There are literally thousands of recipes on the internet or in cook books if you get stuck for ideas. As a general rule any meal with lots of vegetable or salad and a portion of lean protein is an ideal foundation for your meal. Look for low fat/low carb recipes if you feel like experimenting.
For a balanced meal you should aim to eat a protein portion along with a selection of healthy vegetables and/or salad. The protein portion should be approximately the size and thickness of the palm of your hand. You should also aim to select lean meats in order to control fat intake.
Steamed, baked or grilled is better than fried, if you must fry use good quality oil preferably the spray type to reduce the amount used. Remember you should consume 800 calories for women and 1000 for men a day to stay within the limit of the VLCD. So if you are on the shake only diet your healthy meal including any snacks in the day should total around 400 calories for women and 600 for men.
For recipe ideas try our recipe section or the BBC Good Food site.
Watch those carbs!
Remember we are trying to keep carbs to a minimum, so try to make a satisfying meal by using more vegetables in place of things like potatoes bread pasta and rice.
Sources of protein include
- Beef, lamb, pork or veal – mince is ok if using lower fat brands
- Chicken and turkey, breast is best steamed, grilled or oven baked on a trivet to drain any fat
- Fish and other seafood – salmon, fresh tuna, mackerel and sardines (source of omega 3 fatty acids)
- Tinned fish such as salmon or tuna (not in oil)
- Eggs (2 per serving)
- Tofu, soya products and low fat cottage cheese or ricotta cheese
These should be included with your meal as they provide essential vitamins and minerals in their most natural form whilst adding minimal calories and a host of health giving benefits
Suggested vegetables include
Broccoli, Spinach, All leafy greens, Cabbage, sprouts, Cauliflower, Leeks, Onions, Mushrooms, Tomatoes, Carrots,
Snowpeas Peas (not with sugar), Mange tout, Sweetcorn, Celery, Courgettes
Why not try a stir fry with a selection of vegetables and a portion of lean protein. Use a light oil spray and experiment with different spices and seasonings ( if using a prepared sauce do check the label and try to choose the lower calorie/fat/sugar varieties)
Healthy Eating Tips
Substitute your sauces and condiments for low carbohydrate options such as soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and low fat salad dressings, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice and tomato paste or puree.
Most herbs and spices are fine in normal quantities used for cooking and could include garlic, ginger, chilli, curry powder, cinnamon, and paprika and pepper
Artificial sweeteners in tea and coffee are preferred instead of sugar if you really can’t do without the sweetness.
Olive oil provides the monounsaturated fat linked with health benefits, but to get the highest levels of the protective compounds, choose “extra virgin” or “virgin” oil, the least processed form.
Cut out bread with evening meals, Have more vegetables! You really don’t want the extra carbs that bread contain.
Don’t use bottled sauces for stir-fries. Make your own from natural ingredients like garlic, chilli, ginger, other herbs, soy sauce as most bought sauces are high in sugar- check the labels.
Substitute Potatoes for pumpkin or sweet potatoes that have a lower G.I value, but better still reduce the carbohydrate by choosing cauliflower or simply more green vegetables
Choose fruits with skin where possible as this adds fibre to your diet and keeps you feeling fuller for longer; Apples, pears, stone fruits such as peaches, nectarines and plums etc.