Having lost 50 pounds and kept the weight off for four years, VirginiaLynne seeks to help others reach and maintain a healthy weight.
Creating a Plan that Works
Want to eat healthier? Live longer? Here are some tips for creating your own diet plan that will work for you. Here are the steps (details, charts, and links below will help you do these):
- Find out your correct weight goal.
- Calculate your daily calorie needs.
- Set your weight loss goal.
- Find out how many calories are in different foods (including letting you scan packages or put in restaurant foods)
- Keep track of what you eat daily.
- Help you set your own goals.
- Calculate how many calories you burned in exercise.
- Join in a social media environment for encouragement and support.
Easy Ways to Start a Healthy Diet
1. Start With Small Goals: Looking at weight charts can seem overwhelming. It is important to look at a target, but start small. When I got started seeking a healthy diet plan, I focused on just exercising regularly. Next, I started eating more vegetables. I didn't lose much weight but I started feeling better and looking better. Finally, after about a year, I got enough confidence to finally tackle the weight issue.
2. Make Step by Step Weight Loss Goals: I decided that I would start trying to lose 10 pounds. Then when I had accomplished that, I tried to keep it off by eating more healthy foods rather than eating less. When I did that, I tackled another 10 pounds. After six months, I found I wasn't losing any more weight and I was really busy, so I just decided to make my goal to keep that weight off for one year. I did that, and when my schedule settled down, I was able to tackle the next pounds. Now I've reached my BMI goal and kept that weight off for five years. I feel so much better!
3. Keep Good Health the Priority: I enjoy looking better and getting compliments, but I find that the best motivation is knowing I am going to live longer and healthier and be able to keep up with my kids and, hopefully, future grandkids.
Weight Charts vs. BMI
Confused? You aren't alone. The BMI (Body Mass Index) is supposed to help us target our weight better, but I sometimes think the older weight charts were easier to understand and read. You can find many BMI calculators on the web, but I think it helps to look at charts. Actually, it can be very difficult to find height weight charts, and that is why I give this table along with the BMI chart for comparison.
Finding Your Healthy Weight
Keeping in the right weight range is the most important thing you can do for good health. Yet over 60% of Americans are over a healthy weight. On the other hand, most models for clothes, advertisements and magazines are underweight. How can we know what is healthy?
Check out the tables I've included for BMI range or the weight range from Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. Or you can use the Ideal Weight Calculator created by a doctor based on what most people see as their ideal weight.
Ideal Height and Weight Chart
|Height||Ideal Weight Men (lbs)||Ideal Weight Women (lbs)|
Check Out Your BMI
For a healthy diet plan to work, you need to know:
- Number of portions of each kind of food you need each day.
- Correct portion sizes.
Find Your Number of Servings
The first step is finding out the healthiest number of servings for you. Choose My Food Plate Calculator gives a personalized assessment of how much of each kind of food you need to eat daily based on:
- Physical Activity
Suggested Food Servings for Healthy Diet Plan
|Food Type||1,600 calorie diet||2,000 calorie diet||Sample serving Size|
Grains (1/2 should be whole grains)
(baseball sized serving) Examples:1 slice bread, 1 oz. cereal, 1/2 cup rice or past-
Vegetables (eat a rainbow of colors)
(fist sized)1 cup leafy vegetables, or 1/2 cup raw or cooked
(baseball-sized) 1 medium fruit, 1/4 cup dried fruit, 1/2 cup fresh or frozen or canned fruit, 1/2 cup juice
Fat-free or low fat dairy
1 cup milk, 1 cup yogurt, 1 oz cheese (the size of 6 stacked dice)
Protein (meats, poultry, seafood)
3-6 oz per day (cooked)
6 oz or less a day
(deck of cards size for 3 oz.)
Protein (Nuts, Seeds and Beans)
3-4 servings a week
4-5 servings a week
1/3 cup nuts, 2 TB peanut butter, 1/2 cup dried beans (1 cup cooked)
Fats and Oils
2 servings a day
2-3 servings a day
1 tea. margarine, 1 tea. vegetable oil, 1 TB. mayonaise or 1 TB regular salad dressing
Sweets and added sugars
0 servings per week
5 or fewer servings per week
1 TB sugar, 1 TB jelly or jam, 1 cup lemonade
5 Tips on Portion Sizes
- Measure out or weigh all your food for a week, or until you can estimate a portion correctly.
- Use small bowls and plates. I find it helps me to see a serving as "enough" if it fills up my small bowl or plate.
- Use the same bowl or plate each day. I find that using the same bowl for my oatmeal or salad makes it easy for me to measure the portion size.
- Buy plates that show divided sections of correct portion sizes. These plates are good for anyone, but especially helpful if you are trying to teach kids to eat the right amounts.
- Take one portion of each food you are going to eat on the plate, and then go back for seconds if you are still hungry. When I'm hungry, I'm often wanting to pile on more food, but if I take just one portion size to eat first, I often find that it is enough. However, if I pile on two portions, I'll often eat all that just because it is there on my plate!
Plan Your Fruits and Vegetables First
One easy way to fill up your stomach faster and get better nutrition is just to make sure you eat enough vegetables, fruits, and fiber. Most of us need at least 5 servings of vegetables and fruits. Many doctors urge us to have more vegetables. The U.S.D.A. Calculator for Healthcare Professionals told me that as a 52-year-old woman who has 30-60 minutes of exercise each day, I need 2.5 cups of vegetables and 1.5 cups of fruit every day. What does that look like?
- Breakfast: 1/2 cup blueberries
- Snack: 1 small banana
- Lunch: 1 1/2 cups of lettuce and vegetables in a salad
- Dinner: 1 cup cooked vegetables and a small apple.
Shop for Good Foods
You will eat what you have available and when you are busy (which is most of us most of the time) you need to have something quick to grab. You will find a healthy diet plan is a lot easier if you make healthy shopping part of your routine. Here are my tips:
Spend a morning examining choices at the grocery store to find healthy choices by comparing labels. You may be very surprised to find that products which seem identical can have a wide variety of calories, fat, sugars and fiber. My favorite great grocery finds?
- Nature Valley Breads (low sugar and low calorie with whole grains).
- Brown rice and whole wheat pasta.
- Jimmy Dean Turkey Sausage, and Butterball Turkey bacon.
- Canola Oil and margarine made with Canola like Imperial (contains Omega 3 oils which are heart healthy).
- Kashi Lean Cereal (great filling snack with 10 grams protein and lots of fiber)
- Frozen Blueberries (very reasonable price compared to fresh and are low in sugar and high in antioxidants)
- Cooked frozen chicken breasts (for low-fat and low-calorie fast meals).
- Spring salad mix (for a rainbow salad!) with grated carrots or chopped salad mixes with Brussel sprouts and kale.
- Newman's Low Fat Balsamic Dressing (and other Newman Dressings).
Tips for Healthy Eating Out
Everyone knows that going out to eat can be dangerous. Lots of times you really don't know what you are eating and often the servings are more than you need (not to mention the calorie count!). Sometimes you can choose something that seems healthy, like a salad, only to find out it is served with fried noodles and full-fat dressing which makes it have more fat and calories than the steak and potato your neighbor is eating. What can you do? Here are some tips I've learned from my naturally skinny friends:
- Plan eating out before you go, and check out the restaurant choices online. Some restaurants offer a lot of good, healthy meal choices. It pays to locate the ones available in your area and go there when you can.
- Check online for nutrition information menus: when you can try to look up this information before you end up inside the restaurant. I find it helps a lot if I've already taken the time to think about what I want to eat and chosen my order. For example, at Panda Express, you can actually put together a meal online and find out the whole nutritional information of your choices. I love that!
- Ask for the nutrition information at the restaurant. Some restaurants offer this in the menu and sometimes I've had to fight to get it but been glad when I did. Often there is an item which I would not know is a good, healthy choice. Moreover, when you ask for this information, it lets the restaurant know people care about what they are eating and that can help encourage them to make this information more easily available.
- Plan to share a meal with a friend or only eat half and take the rest home for tomorrow. Most restaurant choices are really about twice what most of us need to eat at a meal. So save some money and your health by eating just half!
- Order from the sides menu. Although this can sometimes be more expensive, it can also help you to eat more vegetables or to avoid the temptations of eating too much.
- Order a salad with dressing on the side, or ask for butter and sour cream on the side, so you can decide how much to put in.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Sonia Sylart from UK on May 28, 2017:
I really like what you say about eating out whilst on a diet - particularly the ones about eating half and taking the rest home and also the one about ordering from the side menu.
Lilly Burgess on September 02, 2013:
This was really helpful! I've been looking for an easily accessible BMI chart like the one in the article to see if I'm at a healthy weight or not, and so it was very useful to me.
Libby Lemley on August 27, 2013:
This is very insightful! Thank you so much for sharing such beneficial information!
Virginia Kearney (author) from United States on May 15, 2013:
Thanks so much Rose!
rose-the planner from Toronto, Ontario-Canada on May 15, 2013:
Very insightful article for anyone looking for a healthier lifestyle change! Thanks for sharing. (Voted up)
Virginia Kearney (author) from United States on May 15, 2013:
Thanks so much Kathryn--I have had such a hard time finding some of this information on my own that I wanted to pull it all together for other people. It should not be so hard to find out how to diet! Or how much we are really supposed to weigh!
Kathryn from Windsor, Connecticut on May 15, 2013:
This is a spectacular article on preparing for a diet! Great job. It includes so many useful things to plan for a diet, and make goals. I'm sharing this.