Healthy Food – 7 Day Menu Plan
5th April 2012 by SevenSeasLife
Sometimes it is good to be just told what to do, there are enough decisions to be made in life already! With this in mind we have pulled together a suggested 7 Day Menu which will ensure that you meet at least 5 fruit and vegetable servings a day and will also offer you a healthy, balanced week of meals. We also hope that you will find these options delicious. But before you start there are just a couple of points we need to make sure you are aware of:
- We have not accommodated for food intolerances, nor of course your individual preferences or health conditions such as pregnancy and these suggestions are also not for you if you have any illnesses. If you do want to take this further we would advise that you book in with a nutritional consultant or health professional who will be able to tailor a dietary plan to you.
- Also please remember it is important to consult your doctor if you are making significant changes to your diet as these changes may alter your medical needs.
- Also we have not addressed portion sizes here, so it is worth having a look at the recommendation for portion sizes in our article What is healthy food?
The full 7 Day Menu Plan is a Flipbook below and in this supporting article we have also provided you with information on the nutritional benefits of the foods we are recommending during the plan.
You will probably know that a piece of fruit will contribute to your five a day, but its worthwhile remembering that fruit also offers a good source of vitamins and minerals plus fibre and water. We we suggest that you aim to eat at least 2-3 portions per day. Fruit in the 7 Day Plan provides the following nutrients:
- Apples are high in fibre and rich in antioxidants, they can be a useful choice of fruit to avoid high blood sugar.
- Berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries etc) are relatively low in sugar compared to other fruits, they are high in fibre and are a rich source of anti-oxidants such as Vitamin C and are a great group of foods to boost your immune system.
- Bananas are one of ‘five a day’, they are a great source of fibre, potassium, manganese and vitamin C.
- Dried apricots are lower in sugar than other dried fruits but sweeten enough to avoid the temptation of added sugar, they are also a great source of iron.
Vegetables are rich in fibre, health-promoting antioxidants, minerals and are low in fat. Adding a wide variety of vegetables to your meals and snacks is a great way to achieve your ’5 a day’. We would suggest that you aim for at least 3-4 portions per day.
Choosing to steam cook vegetables helps to retain as many nutrients as possible and using a flash frying method, such as stir frying, is a great way to ensure that vegetables are not over cooked and retain many of the nutrients that they contain in raw form. Vegetables in the 7 Day Plan provides the following nutrients:
- Baked or grilled tomatoes taste great; they are full of anti-oxidants and help you avoid the use of sugar and salt filled tomato ketchups.
- Vegetable soup is another great way to help you achieve your 5 a day, as it provides a filling, high in fibre and low in fat meal. If you are unsure which to buy, and what “health food” actually means you might find it helpful to use the ‘traffic light system’ which appears on food labelling as its a great way to quickly identify healthier options.
- Green vegetables are high in fibre, low in fat and are an excellent source of immune boosting antioxidants.
- Celery is very high in fibre and water and low in energy and it can help you to feel full.
- Vegetable based sauce will be higher in nutrients, lower in fat and calories but it is a good idea to add more vegetables in for example cooked broccoli or courgettes.
- Also did you know that chives contain fibre and antioxidants?
Diary & Cheese
Two portions of diary are recommended per day – so look to have one pint of milk or half a pint of milk and cheese and/or yoghurt per day. Remember diary products are a great source of calcium and vitamin D for healthy bones and teeth. Diary and Cheese in the 7 Day Plan provides the following nutrients:
- Low fat dairy products contain protein, vitamin D and calcium, choosing a live low fat yoghurt can also offer health-promoting bacteria, such as probiotics for the immune system.
- Cheese is a good source of calcium, contains protein and is also a good source of phosphorous, vitamin A and some B vitamins. Be aware that it can also be high in saturated fat and salt.
- Lower fat dairy products are a good source of calcium, needed for healthy bones.
- Cottage cheese is rich in B vitamins, calcium, high in satiating protein and low in fat. But be aware that it can be high in salt – so it’s worthwhile checking the label.
Carbohydrates are a good source of fibre and carbohydrates in the 7 Day Menu Plan provide the following nutrient benefits:
- Oats contain soluble fibre which can increase bowel flow and absorb cholesterol to avoid it re-entering the body from the bowel. Oats are a great source of minerals including zinc, manganese, selenium, magnesium and phosphorous. Oats keep you fuller for longer and help to balance your blood sugar – so porridge oats offer you a great start to the day!
- Whole grains are high in fibre, slow to release energy keeping you full for longer and your blood sugar more stable, they contain B vitamins and vital minerals.
- No added sugar muesli contains whole grains which are high in fibre and slow-release energy, plus an excellent source of B vitamins and health-promoting minerals - check out the Wholegrain Council for more information.
- Be aware that some breakfast cereals can be high in salt and sugar and can be low in fibre, however wholegrain breakfast cereals are a great alternative and as we have already said they are higher in fibre, lower in sugar and are also fortified with vital nutrients that can help with a balanced diet. If your family like to have breakfast cereals for quickness in the morning use this to your advantage and buy healthier versions of these cereals.
- Bread sticks make a good alternative for dipping and are even less effort. They are also less tempting to cover in salty butter that is full of saturated fat.
- Potatoes are filling, rich in fibre and are a good source of Vitamins B6 and C. They are high in calories but low in fat. Jacket potatoes are a good option over chips. Potatoes are a good source of tryptophan and could be used as one of the foods to help beat depression.
Protein – Meat, Fish, Eggs & Pulses
Protein like chicken, eggs and pulses slow the release of the sugar and carbohydrate into the bloodstream and is more slowly digested by your body. Protein in the 7 Day Menu Plan provide the following nutrient benefits:
- Adding protein to salads make it a realistic, filling option for lunch and helps you to avoid feeling hungry before your afternoon snack and might help you avoid that lack of energy.
- Lean steak is a good source of protein, is rich in iron, and contains B vitamins.
- Fish options contain health-promoting oils and we should aim to eat at least 2-3 portions of fish a week, one of which should be oily. For guidance on eating fish during pregnancy its worthwhile checking out the NHS website. If you need to know more about the health benefits of oily fish check out What is Fish Oil?
- Salmon is a good source of protein and as an oily fish is rich in omega 3, vitamin D, B vitamins and Potassium – its an excellent choice to reach the government target of eating at least one portion of oily fish a week.
- Prawns are an excellent source of protein, omega 3, iron, selenium, tryptophan and zinc. They are low in saturated fats and are excellent for your health.
- Tuna is an excellent source of protein, and fresh tuna is a good source of omega 3 fish oil.
- Eggs are a great source of protein and if you buy the Omega 3 rich eggs they offer a source of health-promoting oils and they are a rich source of choline, a vital nutrient that can be lacking in the diet. Boiled eggs are easy to prepare, fun to eat and require no skill at all and eggs are a great way to fill you up too!
- All pulses are low in fat, high in fibre, filling and contain protein, they are packed with nutrients and slowly release energy into the blood stream and are a great food source to help with lack of energy.
- Houmous contains chickpeas and sesame seed oil. Sesame seed oil is rich in health promoting oils. Houmous is high in calories, but make sure that you do not eat too much of this. Chickpeas are high in fibre, protein and slow release energy.
Drinks & Smoothies
- Aim to drink 6-8 8oz glasses of water per day.
- A good way to help reduce your caffeine intake is by drinking herbal teas.
- A smoothie or one glass of fruit juice contributes to your five a day and contains immune boosting antioxidants, mixing fruitjuice with water reduces the overall sugar content of your glass and helps to rehydrate you after night-time water loss.
Nuts, Seeds & Oils
- Omega seed mixes offer an important source of vital health-promoting essential fats.
- Sesame seed oil is rich in health promoting oils.
- Nuts are an excellent source of health promoting oils, they contain satiating protein. Nuts are high in calories and so a handful will suffice. Nuts and seeds can be added to muesli and are great for slow release energy.
- Nut butters contain protein and slow release energy, they are a good source of healthy oils and are lower in saturated fat than normal butter. They are also delicious. Be aware that these are HIGH CALORIE and so should be spread lightly, do not over indulge!
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