Healthy Living Day 5: Create Your Ideal Meal Plan

This is Day 5 of the 14-Day Healthy Living Challenge held in Jan 2015 where we work on improving our diet and fitness for 14 days. The challenge is now over but you can do the tasks in your own time. Visit the overview page for all the challenge tasks.

Healthy Living Challenge

Hi everyone!! :D It’s now Day 5 of our 14-Day Healthy Living Challenge. Let’s get started!

Challenge Tasks to Date

My Day 4 in Pictures

Here’s a recap of my Day 4 in pictures! ;)

Orange carrot soup, Wholemeal bread, Dragonfruit

Brunch to kick off the day: Orange carrot soup, wholemeal bread, and dragonfruit!

My cat eating my bread

YOU KNOW your food has to be pretty yummy when YOUR CAT jumps up the table and tries to nibble on it!!!!!!

QQ Rice Roll

Dinner — had QQRice! For those of you not in Asia, think of QQRice as “sushi on steroids.” You pick a rice type — mixed grain, purple rice, red rice, brown rice, etc. — and then pick 5 fillings. They’ll wrap these fillings with the rice and a plastic wrapper, after which you can unwrap and eat on the go. My pick today: Red rice with pickled vegetables, broccoli / carrots, vegetable floss, braised peanuts, and mock duck!

Orange juice

Freshly squeezed orange juice to complement my dinner :)

Jog: 2.41km, 173 calories burned

Nighttime jog of 2.42km at 7:43 min / km, burning 173 calories. I like that my app shows splits per km which lets me know how I’m doing. I’m personally interested to see how my pace changes as I continue exercising every other day!

Banana and Homemade salad

Supper: Homemade salad using a salad mix kit from the supermarket and adding other ingredients (tofu, chick peas, and grapes). And a banana. Yum! :D (Not in the picture — was still hungry later at night so had a slice of wholemeal bread with peanut butter.)

My 14HLC goals are

  1. Exercise at least three times a week — Second exercise of Week 1, check!
  2. Cut out deep fried / oily food from my diet — Check!
  3. Eat salads more regularly, ideally once a day if I can — Check!

So I got around to doing Day 3’s task on creating a calorie list today based on dozens of items that I normally eat (like fruits, vegetables, nuts, sandwiches, soups, and salads), and realized something I had sort of known all this while but never had the chance to reflect on. I realized that when I follow my regular healthy meal plan, I never consume enough calories to match my TDEE (which should be 1600+ on an inactive day and 1800+ on an active day). Say if I eat a sandwich, salad, soup, and a couple of fruits (what I’ve been eating daily for the past few days), it totals up to barely 1,200 calories a day!

This would then lead me to eat oily/fried food at times, not because I crave for them (this would be true years ago, but not today), but because oily/fried food is calorie dense and a quick way to meet my daily calorie intake. Also, when I go hungry at night, most shops are closed and the only options left are unhealthy eateries with oily/fried stuff. Not good, obviously!

Moving forward, I’ve two solutions to tackle this:

  1. Identify calorie dense foods (that are healthy) to include in my daily meal plan. Avocado is one of them; nuts is another. Starchy foods are okay too but it’s near impossible to get healthy versions of starchy carbs where I live (potatoes always come in the form of fries and sometimes mash potatoes but never boiled, and I’m not interested to cook on a long-term basis).
  2. Stock up on salads, sandwiches, and soups so that I can have them late at night whenever I’m hungry (which I often do since I’m not consuming enough calories in the day).

Check out other participants’ amazing food logs and progress updates in Day 4’s comments section!

With that, let’s move to Day 5’s task, which is…

Day 5: Create Your Ideal Meal Plan

After calculating your TDEE yesterday, today’s task is to create your ideal meal plans — breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks — based on your target daily calorie intake! :D

Orange, notebook

Why is it important to create your ideal meal plan? Well, the truth is that most of us usually eat based on what’s around us rather than what we truly want to eat. Feel hungry? Let’s see what’s in the fridge and whip up something. Need a quick bite? Let’s head to the fast food joint and get something quick. See food on the table? Let’s munch on that — even if it’s unhealthy, eating a little wouldn’t make too much of a difference to our long-term health. Well, at least that’s what we think.

Whenever we do any of these, the problem is we no longer eat based on healthy intents, but based on convenience and what’s available. And this will keep happening simply because the environment can be a very strong influence in our goals, especially when it comes to our diets. The pattern of eating based on convenience and what’s available will loop over and over again, hence throwing us our healthy eating plans out of the window.

To put this to a stop, we have to first be aware of what exactly we want in our ideal diet. And that’s what we’re going to do today!

Step 1: Write out your ideal meal plan for a regular day (15 min)

Imagine you are in your ideal day now. What would your ideal meal like, the meal that would bring you to your pinnacle of health and wellness?

  • Breakfast: What would you see yourself eating when you wake up? What would you drink?
  • Lunch: What would you have for lunch?
  • Mid-day snacks: How about in-between meals?
  • Dinner: What would you have for dinner?
  • Supper: Lastly, would you be eating anything in the few hours before sleep? If so, what would that be?

Based on this, craft out your ideal meal plan, including serving sizes where possible (rough estimates are fine, for example, “1 banana” vs. just “banana,” or “1 medium soup” vs. just “soup.” Keep working on it until you’re 110% happy with it and you know that this is a meal plan where you would feel the happiest, the healthiest and most vitalized when consumed.

Feel free to look up recipes of healthy meals online for inspiration!

Step 2: Do a nutritional check with your plan (15 min)

Then, do a quick check on the calories and nutrition level of your ideal meal plan with your needs.

  1. Does it match your calorie needs? You should have already created your calorie list of your ideal foods on Day 3, so use the list to check the total calorie of your ideal meal matches your TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure from Day 4’s task) or, if you have weight loss/gain goals, your daily target calorie intake. If you haven’t created your calorie list, do it now!
  2. Is it highly nutritional? It’s not just about calories — you should have a range of vitamins and minerals in your diet too. (Click on this link and scroll down a little for a chart of important vitamins and minerals and the role each of them play in your diet.)

If you feel your ideal meal doesn’t meet your caloric/nutritional needs, go back and make adjustments until it does.

With your ideal meal plan now set, tomorrow our task will be to follow this ideal meal plan — going grocery shopping for the right ingredients if you cook, planning where/what you eat in advance, and basically being conscious about what you put into your mouth. Stay tuned! :D

Next, Follow Your Plan for Day 5 (Take Pictures Too!)

What tasks have you set for Day 5 of your 14-Day Healthy Living Plan? Do them today!

Take pictures of your healthy meals — breakfast, lunch, dinner, and mid-day snacks if any — and share them in the comments section. :D After all, a picture tells a thousand words, and when you share photos of your healthy meals, it inspires others to eat healthily and gives them ideas on what healthy food they can have too!

Post your initial comment sharing your results for today’s challenge task, then add on throughout the day as you have your breakfast, lunch, dinner, and/or if you’re doing any workouts. Attach photos of your meals by clicking the image icon on the bottom left of every comment box. As you add on to your comment thread, be sure to click on the reply button directly below your original comment so that you reply to your own thread (as opposed to starting a new thread).

Share Your Results (and Photos!)

Share in the comments section!

  1. Your ideal meal plan for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks
  2. Your calorie amount and nutritional value of your ideal meal plan
  3. Your progress with your healthy living plan today
  4. Pictures of your meals
  5. Pictures of your workout (if any)

Do check out the other participants’ comments too and share a word of encouragement or two. We’re all in this together, so let’s support each other as a group! :)

After you’re done, proceed to Day 6: Follow Your Ideal Meal Plan!

(Image: Women runningOrange and notebook)