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Choosing a Meal Plan For Your Wellness Journey


plateBy Eloise D. Keene, MS, MPH, RD, LDN, CDE, Certified Diabetes Educator, Diabetes Management & Supplies

A variety of meal plans can be healthy choices for different people who are exploring avenues to wellness. In today’s world, being bombarded by food and diet plans can make the average individual’s head swim with the vocabulary of high-fat, low-fat, saturated fat or trans fat. Finding which meal or dietary plan is right for you and your family takes research and discernment. Finding your personal wellness eating regimen is key to overhauling your lifestyle. Here’s what our experts have to say about popular diet plans.


A variety of physicians and health gurus have been touting the Mediterranean diet since the early 1960’s when epidemiologist, Dr. Ancel Keys, brought back research from a study on the health of people living in the Mediterranean region of the world.  The diet was designed to help people reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.  It was accompanied by huge amounts of daily exercise by the study participants. The diet was rich in vegetables, fish, seafood, and olive oil.  All choices that have high levels of omega 3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fats that promote heart health.  This meal is nutrient dense yet moderate in daily caloric distribution based on a 2,000 calorie daily intake.

A meal that adheres to the Mediterranean diet plan might include: 3 -4 ounces of baked fish, 1 cup of green salad made from a dark green leafy vegetable, (romaine lettuce, raw spinach or kale) cucumber, tomato, or onion slices, 2 ounces of olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing, a 4 ounce baked sweet potato, a small apple and 4 ounces of unsweetened plain Greek yogurt.


The Healthy Plate Meal Plan is based on a European model, originally used as a tool for those with diabetes. The design uses a 9 inch plate cut into two halves, and then one half is divided into a half. The largest portion of the plate is for veggies that do not greatly influence blood glucose to rise. One smaller section of the plate is used for protein foods, like eggs, tofu, fish, nut butters, poultry and/ or lean meats.  These foods have a moderate effect of raising blood glucose levels.  The other smaller section of the plate is used for starchy vegetables, grains, beans, or pasta.  These are the foods that most affect blood glucose values as carbohydrate sources create the greatest rise in blood sugar.  The “Healthy Plate” method is a tool that can be used for children, young adults, seniors and the chronically ill.  The tool can be used to plan breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack meals.


In today’s world of meal planning and diets the terms fast and intermittent fasting are being used by lifestyle coaches, personal trainers,  health care professionals and the everyday person, who is looking to lose weight. The definition of those words may hold the key to a meal plan that helps an individual achieve his or her healthy body weight. To fast means to abstain from food, to omit to take nourishment in whole or in part and to go hungry.

5/2 DIET

Since 2012, the British meal plan/diet craze that has swept the “Weight Loss World” has been the 5/2 diet.  This plan required people to eat anything they wanted for five days and then going on a fast for two days per week where calories are restricted to 600 calories for males and 500 calories for females.

This plan is considered a non-consecutive day fast, it is also not a true fast as water is not allowed. It is based on the concept that the usual dietary intake for the British population would have been 2,000 calories daily and that dieters are restricting intake to ¼ that amount on a fasting day.  New information has reported the caloric intake has been raised to 800 calories per day.

16/8 PLAN

Another plan for an intermittent fasting diet is the 16/8 plan.  This plan requires an individual to eat for eight hours and restrict calorie intake for the remaining sixteen hours of a 24 hour day.  During the eight-hour period, the amount of food eaten is not limited.

The selection of a meal plan or dietary regimen with food choices for the healthy individual is based on personal lifestyle, philosophical belief systems, economic status, and individual food preferences.  The meal plan or pattern for an individual with a specific health condition may be recommended by a Registered Dietitian or health care provider.

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