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1,800-Calorie Lunch Meal Plans

by Michael Brent

It's important to ensure your children stay healthy, but it's just as important to keep yourself healthy. One way to lose weight is to embark on a diet plan, but it's a good idea to stay away from fad diets and turn to a plan you'll actually be able to maintain. One plan that can be successful for a busy mom is a diet that restricts you to 1,800 calories a day.

1,800-Calorie-a-Day Diet

By restricting yourself to 1,800 calories a day, you'll take in enough calories to stay active and energetic without excess calories. If done properly, an 1,800-calorie-a-day diet won't leave you feeling hungry. The most common way of divvying up this caloric intake is to eat three 500-calorie meals and three light snacks of 100 calories each. By splitting the calories up, this prevents overeating and will ensure your metabolism is always working so you burn more calories. To get the most out of this diet plan, it's a good idea to plan your meals in advance to ensure you're eating nutrient-rich foods that will supply all of your nutritional needs while restricting your intake of calories.

Planning Lunches

When planning lunch time meals, make sure they contain low-fat sources of protein, complex carbohydrates, including those found in whole grains, plenty of fiber and, ideally, some "good fats," such as Omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish, like salmon and tuna. Because the meal is restricted to only 500 calories, portion control is a key factor in keeping to this limit. A good way to do this is to cut down on portions of meat and grains while increasing the portion size of vegetables.

Variety

It's a good idea to plan seven days of meals in advance, which allows you to do the shopping and any preparation beforehand. The goal is to ensure you stick to the diet without cheating, and one way to help with this is to keep variety at the forefront when planning meals. For lunches, keep things interesting by including some of your favorite foods -- just less of them. To avoid cooking two separate lunches -- one for you and a different one for your child -- try to include some of the same foods in his lunch as in yours. If your lunch plan includes tuna salad and fresh-cut vegetables, make your child a tuna salad sandwich and cut veggies, and let your child pick his favorite salad dressing as a dip.

Sample Lunch

A sample lunch could include 1 cup of beef vegetable soup and half a turkey sandwich, with 2 ounces of sliced turkey on a single slice of whole-wheat bread, including 2 tsp. of salad dressing instead of mayo and some lettuce, tomato and mustard. Add a low-calorie flavor punch to soup or a sandwich with a sprinkle of dry dressing and seasoning mix. For volume, add 1 cup of raw carrots or celery sticks and a small apple for dessert. When embarking on an 1,800-calorie-a-day diet, it's important to drink plenty of water throughout the day. According to the Sports Medicine department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, an active adult should drink between 5 and 10 liters of water on a hot day. If you are sedentary, you need at least 2 1/2 liters daily.

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