Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Meal Planning

Since last week I've been planning my meals each day in order to find a balance of protein, carbs and fat that will get me to my new caloric goal of 1,400/day. It's a lot harder than I thought it would be.
  • I already eat 5 times a day -- 3 meals, 2 snacks. I can't seem to fit another full meal or snack into the schedule.
  • I'm already at my max quantity of food for each of the 5 meals/snacks, so I can't just "eat more." I'm trying to figure out how to make the foods I eat more calorie dense rather than just eating larger quantities.
  • I want to increase my calories and still maintain the balance that I know works for me. 40% protein, 40% carbs, 20% fat.
  • I need to avoid the trap of grazing throughout the day to get in extra calories. Eating on a schedule has kept me on track all these months and I don't want to fall into the trap of eating all day long -- which can be the first step in weight regain in the future.
  • Besides all the extra calories I'm trying to add, I'm also trying to increase my sodium - per my doctor's orders - to help combat the low blood pressure issues.
So each morning I get onto www.FitDay.com and do some planning. I guess technically I should do this the night before because by the time I sit down to plan my meals, I've already eaten breakfast and I've already packed my lunch and afternoon snack in my lunchbag. So maybe I really am doing meal planning the night before ... or at 6:30 a.m. ... but seeing all my food in my food journal before I actually eat it seems to help me stay on track for the day.

Because I've been using FitDay for a long time I have a very solid list of Custom Foods and Recent Foods on my list. So this meal planning process literally takes about 3 minutes. Today's eating plan is as follows:

(That snack of protein hot cocoa is not typical and something I'm adding today to see if I can fit it into my day. I've figured out I can't add a bedtime snack because I eat dinner too late... so I'm experimenting with two mid-day snacks instead. We'll see. )

Calories: 1,298 
Fat: 45g -- 30% 
Carbs: 129g (20g fiber) -- 37% 
Protein: 108g -- 33%

Ok... so this is only 1,300 calories which is still short of my daily goal. But it's closer than I was getting a week ago. My percentage balance is also off today. The cheese puts me over my limit on fat content, but I really like cheese and I'm not on a "low-fat diet" so I'm fine with this. The oatmeal appears to put me over on my carb count - kinda. I try to keep my protein grams and net carb grams equal... so once you subtract the fiber from 129, I'm at 109g carbs and 108g protein - pretty much right on track.

I guess the cool thing about this meal planning stuff is that I can play around with the numbers before I actually eat the food. A normal food journal just records what you put in your mouth after the fact. But with meal planning I feel like I have more control of the outcome for my day. If I decide to have a bowl of soup and a salad for dinner but see that my protein count is going to fall short of my goal for the day... I can change my plan and pick something that is higher in protein and lower in carbs instead.

I don't think I'll stick to the meal planning thing forever. But doing it while you're adjusting your eating plan is a good thing. Once I have a solid plan and know the quantities I need to eat to maintain a 1,400/calories day then I won't need to plan as rigidly. But for now, I find it is helping me a lot.



  1. This is such an awesome blog, the details that you have in your dieting is amazing. I need to be as detailed and as disciplined doing this diet. Always stay on top of your nutritional supplements, thats what they always tell me. www.bariatricadvantage.com. check that out you can also buy them there. I think they even send out free samples so you can try them out before committing to bigger bottles.

  2. Do you have a recipe for your chicken & veggie cassrole? I'm doing the meatballs for my dish to pass for Christmas Eve and may have to do a trial run this weekend - they look great.


  3. Is there some way you can get some more calories into your pizza at night? Maybe puree something else into the sauce... Or add some lean ham? Just an idea. :)

  4. @ Nickie -
    My tortilla pizza is actually the highest calorie meal of my day (275 calories). I use a half of a Flat Out Bread, sauce, mushrooms, turkey pepperoni and a bunch of cheese. Sometimes I throw on some pineapple or sliced tomatoes.

    All 3 of my meals range in calories from 200-275. I just need to work on getting all of them up into the higher end of that range and then try to increase the caloric density of my snacks. It's a big juggling act.



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