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The Healing Power of Food: Conscious Eating
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Meal Planning ~ Nutrition Course

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"My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four. Unless there are three other people."
~ Orson Wells

Energizing Through Meal Planning

by Julianne Koritz

Many people suffer from energy slumps in the mid-morning or afternoon not realizing their food intake may be to blame. Changing meal times, as well as the size, color, and texture of your food can vastly improve your energy level and overall health. Meal planning is an important step in energizing your body and creating a healthier body, a healthier you! Consider meal planning that incorporates the following:

Meal Planning Tip #1
Eat 4-6 small meals containing about 500 calories each, including dinner. Begin to eat more often, but less food at each meal. This is the most important way to increase your energy level.

Meal Planning Tip #2
Each meal should be made up of at least two different food groups to offer a variety of nutrients and be satisfying but not make you feel stuffed. More variety in your daily food intake increases nutrients that benefit your health.

Meal Planning Tip #3
Each meal should not be more than four hours apart to help control blood sugars and hunger level. Eating small meals more often helps control your blood glucose levels. Blood glucose levels become too high when we eat very large portions of food at one time.

Conversely, the blood glucose levels become too low when there is longer than 3 hours between meals. The blood glucose levels are controlled by insulin, which is released from the pancreas.

Insulin is increased after a meal to take glucose to the brain for energy, to the liver or muscles to be stored as glycogen and any extra stored as adipose (fat) tissue. Small meals help keep your blood glucose levels more consistent.

Meal Planning Tip #4 Make a written plan of your menus and snacks; then stick to it. Write down a list of all the dinners you currently make at home. Now, write down what you eat for breakfast, lunch and snacks. Review this list and choose what you to eat on a daily basis as you prepare your weekly menu.

Here are some meal planning suggestion for the week:

Breakfast (meal planning)
Whole wheat English muffin with peanut butter and orange juice OR
Oatmeal with fruit or raisins and OJ OR
Low fat yogurt and granola with fruit

You don't need to eat something different for breakfast every day, just eat a meal that's nutritious, simple, and tasty - not overwhelming. Avoid convenience foods such as donuts, cookies, and breakfast treats. Complex starches that include fiber, B-vitamins, iron and calcium are the best foods in the morning.

Lunch (meal planning)
Lentil soup/crackers/apple OR
Tofu enchiladas/salad/orange OR
Yogurt/granola/blueberry OR
Tuna fish sandwich on whole wheat bread/apple OR
Pasta salad/fruit smoothie (small)

Lunch can be leftovers from dinner. Preparing enough food the night before saves time and money. If you get into the routine of eating 500 calories per meal and fewer calories for snacks, then having leftovers works to control your caloric intake and is a good way not to over eat tomorrow.

Lunch should have some protein source. Instead of cold cuts, try beans, lentils, tofu, cheeses, and/or yogurt to increase the energy level in your blood.

Fresh fruit, yogurt, nuts, cheese and crackers

Avoid caffeine, sodas, candy or any sweets as "pick me ups" during mid-morning or mid-afternoon slumps. Avoid foods of high glycemic index: white breads, cookies, doughnuts, and foods from vending machines. This only serves to perpetuate the cycle of daily energy slumps.

Dinner ( meal planning)
Tofu enchiladas/salad OR
Spaghetti & marinara sauce/whole grain bread/broccoli OR
Rice and Beans with avocado slices on top/fresh green beans OR
Grilled tuna/mango salsa/couscous OR
Tofu & vegetable stir fry/short grain brown rice

Front Loading ~
It is important to eat breakfast every morning to give your body an energy boost after essentially fasting through the night. Many people are running on empty when they don't eat breakfast in the morning and have a huge loss of energy by mid-morning. Some people mask this energy loss by drinking coffee. I enjoy coffee too, however, caffeine is not a nutrient you need in the morning.

Some Final Thoughts on Meal Planning
Dinners may be more difficult to change since most people sit down to a large meal at night. But remember, you are working towards changing both your appetite and your eating habits by eating 4-6 small meals daily. So, if you had a snack or small meal right after work, your appetite will not be as great at dinnertime, however, your desired to eat a large meal will be present due to habit. So by preplanning what you will eat for your meals will help control the amount of food eatens at meal times.

Remember to concentrate on implementing meal habit changes one day at a time. You will soon see that the days add up to new eating habits and a healthier attitude towards nutrition and food. You will also one day realize that you no longer have those mid-morning or mid-afternoon slumps. In fact, you are energized and full of vim and vigor!

Copyright © 2003 Julianne Koritz. All rights reserved. If you are interested in publishing this article, please email .

Julianne Koritz
Julianne Koritz is a registered, licensed dietitian in private practice in Chapel Hill, N.C. She presents programs in low-fat cooking, diabetic and cardiac diets, weight management and nutrition. In her practice, she counsels corporate and private clients in developing personalized nutritional programs. As a clinical dietitian at the University of North Carolina, she helped athletes and students to reach their nutritional goals. She is a member of the American Dietetic Association. She developed the Self-Healing Expressions e-course The Healing Power of Food: Conscious Eating. Her web site is

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  • Learn behavior modification techniques for changing eating habits.
  • Understand the role of comfort foods, processed foods, and important foods.
  • Revisit and expand the old food pyramid that you learned about in school.
  • Rediscover the nutrients you need in your daily diet for optimal health.
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