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Get Healthier Weekly Menu Structure: Lose Weight, Eat Healthy, Feel Better

With Snapware, you can cook, serve and store your precut veggies with ease
With Snapware, you can cook, serve and store your precut veggies with ease
Linda Talbott Brewer

You have been my faithful readers for more than four years now, so I thought it was about time for me to tell you a bit of my history and why most everything I write, whether articles, recipes or reviews of products all have one thing in common: Good Health. So, a bit about why eating healthy drives my column:

I started out in the fitness industry as manager of For Women Only Fitness Center. Trained as a fitness trainer, then later as a personal trainer, with classes in our protein powered diet plan, I learned so much about fitness, with a side of healthy eating. Then I moved on to be manager, then regional sales director, of Jenny Craig Weight Loss Centres. There, I learned all about healthy eating, the right foods to fuel your body and portion control, with a side of staying active.

I've taken those two different ways of focusing on good health, whether fitness or diet centered and put them to use in my own life, in a combination of the two. That's how, after losing my son and gaining one hundred pounds, I pulled myself together and put my weeks and weeks of fitness and diet training I've had and lost 120 pounds. Hard to imagine, isn't it? I now live life at a healthy 129 to 139 pounds.

Why the 10 pounds range? I believe you have to give yourself a break every now and then - but then, you always have to get right back on that health-driven wagon after jumping off for a break. Now, that doesn't mean jump off the wagon and right into binge eating or bad food choices, it just means let up the reins a bit, have a treat, a snack, a sinful indulgence. But, the next day or week or even month, eat healthy again.

I'm up a bit right now, at about 137 and my healthiest BMI is at 130 pounds, says my doctor. So, I've decided to create a fun weekly guideline to help myself - and you- stay on track. I hope you enjoy the fun way I've laid your week out.

With the below menu plan, you have the autonomy to eat whatever you like within the parameters set. That being said, you must remember that you can "eat anything you want, but NOT everything you want". Moderation, even in the healthiest of foods, is key. Fried, sweet,, simple carbs and creamy foods should be eaten on Sunday only, and in moderation.

Eat on a small plate, make 1/2 of your plate a dish that once grew in the ground. Proteins and fattier foods should take up no more than 1/4 of your plate, with the other 1/4 left for whole grains like whole wheat or high fiber pasta, brown rice, cous cous, quinoa or even fruits.

Dairy and fruits can be eaten as asides, so to speak, small additions to your day or your meals. Snacks should always consist of a protein and carb, one for strength, one for energy and no more than 100 to 150 calories each. Eating protein with your carbohydrates helps your body metabolize that carb more efficiently. And it keeps you full longer.

Also, eat FIBER, FIBER, FIBER. It is believed that for every 1 gram of fiber you eat, your body burns up 7 calories. Do the math. There are many food products now made with added fiber. Popcorn is a good snack, just only use spray butter!

Living Healthy Tip: Wash and cut your veggies and fruits, precook pastas, grains and proteins, the day you grocery shop, storing them in Snapware Containers (pictured) for meals on the go later in the week. You can cook them right in the container (minus the lid), and even serve and freeze them in that same container. Think of all the time and dishwashing you'll save.

Try this menu guide and see how much better you feel:

Vegetarian or Vegan dishes only. Heavy on complex carbs like sweet potato "fries" with a huge portabella mushroom burger.

  • Turkey or YouChooseDay Tuesday:

Tuesday is someone else's choice of what's for dinner, with turkey as the protein, if you want a protein. Turkey burgers, turkey meatloaf, turkey meatballs, turkey pasta, etc. Add a whole grain pasta, brown rice or cous cous and steamed veggies or a sweet potato.

  • Windy Wednesday:

Perhaps my favorite; It's bean day! Black bean burritos, turkey tacos with "refried" black beans, hummus and pita chips, pinto bean soup with salad, Four bean chili, etc. The weather man is calling for a windy evening.

  • Throwback Thursday:

One of two things; leftovers if you have them - repurpose your leftovers and create a brand new dish. OR a dish that is from your past, like meatloaf (vegan, turkey or chicken), Coq au Vin, Tuna Casserole or Chicken pot pie. Fun.

  • Fishy Friday:

Back to our roots with fish on Friday, just like in elementary school. Swai burgers, salmon patties, salsa baked Tilapia, serve over whole grain rice or pasta, cous cous or quinoa.

  • Souper Salad Saturday: Start the meal off with a huge, high protein salad, with edamame, chick peas, spinach or other high power foods. For the entree, it's soup day! Make a roasted red pepper soup and serve with red pepper hummus and pitas, or veggie soup served with a whole grain bread for dipping, chili over a baked sweet or white potato, or tomato soup with a low fat grilled cheese sammy.
  • Suit Yourself Sunday:

Also known as Serve Yourself Sunday for those cooks who need a day off. It's a moderate "free eating" day. Cook and/or eat healthy, but what and how much you want. Just stay clear of adjectives like fried, creamy, buttery, if you are trying to stay on course. But, should you choose to have a "bad" food, eat it in moderation and remember, tomorrow is a new day for you to get right back on plan.