Setting Up your healthy meal plans

Food exchange system

Each meal plan gives an example of one day’s food intake using the food exchange system. The meal plans provide the recommended amount of food to eat from the five food groups found in MyPlate — Vegetables, Fruits, Grains, Protein Foods, and Dairy.

At the end of this publication, there are seven different meal plans based on varied calorie levels (1200, 1400, 1600, 1800, 2000, 2200, or 2400 calories).  Using one of the meal plans as a guide, you can select foods from the food exchange lists in this document to plan healthful and tasty meals and snacks.

First, decide your daily calorie goal. This may be to maintain your weight or to lose or gain weight. If you want to lose weight, select your calorie goal to lose no more than one to two pounds per week. A calorie deficit of about 500 calories a day will result in slow weight loss for most people. The best approach is to increase your physical activity and decrease your food intake by a few hundred calories each day.
Slow weight loss is best for almost everyone trying to lose weight. Look at the meal plan closest to your calorie level and plan menus for one week using the sample menu as a guide.
Choose foods available on the plan that you enjoy eating. Be sure to include healthful snacks in your meal plan. They will help keep you from getting too hungry during the day. Also, drink at least six glasses of water or other non-sugary drinks every day, such as club soda, unsweetened tea or coffee, or diet soft drinks.
As you begin selecting foods based on these meal plans, think of it as beginning a new way of eating and not a “diet” that will end when you reach your body weight goal. Enjoy your meals, and invite your family and friends to share your new way of eating.
Finally, include physical activity in your healthier lifestyle. Being active will help you maintain or achieve a healthy body weight and keep you feeling fit and strong. Regular exercise also reduces health risks. If you have not been active for a long time, check with your doctor before you start an exercise program.
The following lists will get you started.

1 exchange provides:
15 grams carbohydrate
0–3 grams protein
0–1 gram fat
80 calories
Starch exchanges include breads, cereals, starchy vegetables, crackers and snacks, and beans, peas, and lentils. These foods are found in the Grains, Vegetable, or Protein Foods groups. They provide a variety of vitamins and minerals, and many provide fiber. Beans, peas, and lentils are excellent protein sources.

One starch exchange is:
* 1/2 cup of cooked cereals, grains, or starchy vegetables
* 1/3 cup of cooked rice or pasta
* 1 ounce of bread
* 3/4 to 1 ounce of most snack foods (some snacks also have fat)

A few examples of one starch exchange are:

Bread1 slice (1 oz)
Bagel1/4 large (1 oz)
Cereal (ready-to-eat, unsweetened)3/4 cup
Cereal (ready-to-eat, sweetened)1/2 cup
Cereal (cooked)1/2 cup
Granola1/4 cup (may have extra fat)
Pasta1/3 cup, cooked
Baked beans1/3 cup
Rice1/3 cup, cooked
Corn1/2 cup
Peas, green1/2 cup
Potato, baked or boiled1/4 large (3 oz)
Popcorn (no fat added or light)3 cups
Snack chips (tortilla)9-13 (3/4 oz)
Dried beans and peas (cooked)1/2 cup
Tortilla, flour1 (6 inches across)
Some starchy foods are prepared with fat so they count as
1 starch and 1 fat exchange
Corn bread, 1 3/4-inch cube1 piece (1 1/2 oz)
French fries1 cup (2 oz)
Taco shell, 5 inches2
Waffle, 4 inches square1
Potato chips, regular3/4 oz

1 exchange provides:
15 grams carbohydrate
0 grams fat and protein
60 calories
Fruit exchanges include fresh, frozen, dried, and canned fruits. When you choose canned fruit, select fruit canned in juice or extra light syrup. Include at least one fruit high in vitamin C (oranges, grapefruits, berries, and melons) every day.

One fruit exchange is:
*1 small fresh fruit (4 oz)
*3/4 to 1 1/4 cup of fresh fruit
*1/2 cup of canned fruit
*1/2 cup of unsweetened fruit juice
*2 Tbsp of dried fruit

Banana1 small (4 oz)
Blueberries3/4 cup
Cantaloupe1 cup, cubed
Grapes, small17 (3 oz)
Pear, large1/2 (4 oz)
Plums, small2 (5 oz)
Prunes, dried3
Strawberries, whole1 1/4 cup
Orange juice1/2 cup

1 exchange provides:
12 grams carbohydrate
8 grams protein
0–8 grams fat
100–160 calories
Milk and yogurt are excellent sources of calcium and protein as well as several vitamins and other minerals.
Select fat-free or low-fat (1%) dairy and have 2–3 servings a day. Fortified soy milk is also a good source of calcium and protein; count 1 cup as a milk exchange and 1 fat exchange (light versions count as 1/2 fat exchange).

One milk exchange is:
*1 cup of fat-free or 1% milk (see chart)
*2/3 cup of plain fat-free or low-fat yogurt

Type of milk or yogurtFat (grams)Calories
Fat-Free or Low-Fat (1%)0–3100
Reduced-Fat (2%)5120

Whole milk or yogurt counts as a milk exchange and 1 1/2 fat exchange,  and 2% milk or yogurt counts as a milk exchange and 1 fat exchange.

1 exchange provides:
15 grams carbohydrate
Protein, fat, and calorie content varies
Foods on this list include foods that contain added fat and/or sugar. You may substitute foods on this list for a starch, fruit, or milk exchange. Choose the foods on this list less often because they are less nutrient-rich than foods on the other lists.

Count as 1 carbohydrate (either a Starch, Fruit, or Milk on your meal plan):

Pudding, sugar-free, fat-free1/2 cup
Salad dressing, fat-free3 Tbsp
Frozen yogurt, fat-free1/3 cup

Count as 1 carbohydrate (either a Starch, Fruit or Milk on your meal plan) + 1 fat:

Brownie, small, unfrosted1 1/4-inch square (about 1 oz)
Cookie with crème filling2 small
Trail mix (dried fruit)1 oz
Hot chocolate, regular1 envelope in 8 ounces water
Ice cream, light1/2 cup

1 exchange provides:
5 grams carbohydrate
2 grams protein
0 grams fat
25 calories
Nonstarchy vegetables include fresh, frozen, or canned vegetables. Canned vegetables often contain added salt; you can rinse and drain them to remove some salt or choose low-sodium. Deep green and orange vegetables provide vitamin A and other nutrients. Several vegetables, including peppers, broccoli, and tomatoes, are rich sources of vitamin C. Starchy vegetables like corn, peas, and potatoes are not included here; they are on the starch list. Have at least 2-3 servings a day of nonstarchy vegetables.
One nonstarchy vegetable exchange is:
*1/2 cup of cooked vegetables
*1/2 cup of vegetable juice
*1 cup of raw vegetables

Meat and Meat Substitutes
1 exchange provides:
7 grams protein
0–8 or more grams fat
0 grams carbohydrate
45–100 calories
Meat and meat substitutes are divided into four lists, depending on their fat content and source (animal or plant). Select lean meats and meat substitutes most of the time. Use low-fat cooking methods like broiling, roasting, baking, and grilling to limit added fat.
One meat exchange is:
*1 ounce cooked meat, fish, poultry
*1 ounce cheese
*1/2 cup cooked beans, peas, or lentils (1 Meat + 1 Starch)
*1 egg
*1 Tbsp peanut butter/nut spreads
A typical portion of meat often includes three or more exchanges since an exchange is only a one-ounce serving. For example, 3 ounces of meat is about the size of a deck of playing cards.
Lean meat and meat substitutes include lean cuts of beef, pork, and other meats, chicken or turkey (no skin), game meats, fresh or frozen fish, canned salmon or tuna, egg whites or substitutes, and cheeses with 3 grams or less of fat per ounce.
Medium-fat meat and meat substitutes include ground beef, meat loaf, short ribs, chicken with skin, fried chicken or fish, pork cutlet or shoulder roast, cheese with 4–7 grams of fat per ounce, and eggs.
High-fat meat and meat substitutes are high in saturated fat and cholesterol. Examples are regular cheeses (cheddar,
Swiss, and American), bacon, hot dogs, sausage, spare ribs, and processed sandwich meat like bologna and salami.
Plant-based proteins include imitation bacon, burgers, and sausage; cooked beans, peas, and lentils; hummus; tempeh; tofu; peanut and nut butters.

1 exchange provides:
5 grams fat
0 grams carbohydrate
0 grams protein
45 calories
The Dietary Guidelines recommend that 20%–35% of our calories come from fat. The meal plans included in this publication provide about 20%–25% of calories from fat.
Whether solid or liquid, all fats are concentrated in calories. For this reason they need to be measured carefully.
One tablespoon of oil, margarine, butter, or mayonnaise contains 100 calories. However, different fats have different
health impacts. It is important to limit foods that contain saturated and trans fat. Solid fats, like butter, vegetable shortening, and lard, are high in saturated fat. Foods made with hydrogenated oils including stick margarine and snack foods contain trans fat. Use these fats sparingly, if at all.
Use oils like olive, canola, and peanut oil in cooking and for salads. Get some daily fat from nuts, seeds, and fatty fish
like albacore tuna, herring, salmon, and sardines. Read food labels to avoid foods with more than 2 grams of saturated fat per serving and foods that contain any trans fat.
One fat exchange is:
* 1 teaspoon of margarine, butter, oil, or regular mayonnaise
* 1 tablespoon of regular salad dressing

A few examples of one fat exchange are:

Avocado2 Tbsp (1 oz)
Almonds or cashews6 nuts
Ripe (black) olives8 large
Peanut butter1/2 Tbsp (1 1/2 tsp)
Salad dressing, reduced-fat2 Tbsp
Sour cream, regular2 Tbsp
Cream cheese, reduced-fat1 1/2 Tbsp
Bacon, cooked1 slice
Seeds (flaxseed, pumpkin, sesame)1 Tbsp

Free Foods
Foods on this list contain less than 20 calories and 5 grams or less of carbohydrate per serving. When no serving size is given, you can eat the food as often as you desire. However, eat bouillon, pickles, and other high-sodium foods in moderation.
Free foods are divided into 5 groups:

Low Carbohydrate Foods
Hard candy, sugar-free1 pc
Gum, sugar-free1 pc
Sliced cucumber1/2 cup
Jam or jelly, no sugar added2 teaspoons
Modified Fat Foods with Carbohydrate
Cream cheese, fat-free1 Tbsp
Salad dressing, fat-free or low-fat1 Tbsp
Margarine, reduced-fat1 teaspoon
Catsup1 Tbsp
Lemon or lime juice
Salsa1/4 cup
Club soda
Diet soft drinks
Unsweetened tea
Limit seasonings that contain salt.
Wine, used in cooking
Worcestershire sauce

The Healthy Meal Plans
The meal plans range from 1,200 to 2,400 calories. Even when trying to lose weight, women need at least 1,200 calories a day and men need at least 1,600 calories a day to get all of the essential nutrients. The number of calories you actually eat will depend on several things:
* the exact foods you choose (for example, the cut of meat or type of bread)
* how you prepare the foods
* the exact amount of each food you eat
In these meal plans, the higher calorie menus build on the foods in the 1,200 calorie meal plan. This way you can see
which foods were added to increase the calorie level.

The Traditional Meal Plans

The Traditional Meal Plans include foods from all food groups.

1200 Сalories meal plan
1400 Сalories meal plan
1600 Сalories meal plan
1800 Сalories meal plan
2000 Сalories meal plan
2200 Сalories meal plan
2400 Сalories meal plan

The Vegetarian Meal Plans
The plans omit meat, poultry, and fish. These meal plans include meat substitutes and dairy products, so they are appropriate for lacto-ovo vegetarians (those who eat milk products and eggs).

1200 Calories vegetarian meal plan
1400 Calories vegetarian meal plan
1600 Calories vegetarian meal plan
2000 Calories vegetarian meal plan

This entry was posted in Diets.