Following a 1,500-calorie diet can help you meet your weight loss or maintenance goals. This plan should include three meals and two snacks each day. If you're vegetarian, you should include a vegetarian protein source with each meal, as well as whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products. It's always a good idea to consult your physician or registered dietitian for a personalized eating plan.
A smart breakfast meal includes whole grains, protein and either a fruit or a vegetable. Have 3/4 cup bran cereal, 3/4 cup skim milk and half a cup of blueberries with a whole-wheat English muffin with 2 teaspoons of peanut butter. Another smart choice would be a hard-boiled egg and two slices of whole-wheat toast with almond butter. Make an omelet with two whole eggs, one egg white and 1 cup of chopped vegetables. Breakfast should contain 350 to 400 calories.
Lunch is a perfect time pack some vegetables into your meal. Include a protein source, which helps to keep you full until the next time you eat. Have 1 cup of vegetable soup with a grilled cheese and tomato sandwich on whole-wheat bread. Or, make a large salad with 1 1/2 cups mixed greens, 1/2 cup garbanzo beans, .75 ounces of walnuts, 1/2 cup mixed vegetables and a dressing of 1 teaspoon oil and 1 tablespoon vinegar. Lunch should clock in at 400 calories. Check food labels to keep calories within recommendations.
For dinner, include a protein source, a complex carbohydrate and a non-starchy vegetable. Eat 1 cup of whole-wheat pasta, 1/2 cup marinara sauce, 1 cup roasted eggplant and 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese. Have a tossed salad on the side with diced tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, chopped almonds and a light dressing. Try 4 ounces of broiled salmon, 1/2 cup brown rice and 1 cup of roasted asparagus. Another healthy option is a vegetable burger on a whole-wheat bun with lettuce, tomato and onion with a small baked potato with 1 teaspoon of light sour cream. Keep dinner around 400 to 450 calories.
Healthy snacks are an important part of a nutritious eating plan and help keep you full until the next meal. Tasty options include 1 ounce of nuts such as almonds, peanuts or cashews, 4 whole-grain crackers with 2 teaspoons of peanut butter, a small container of nonfat Greek yogurt or fruit. Other options include 1 cup of baby carrots with 1/4 cup hummus, 1 cup celery with 1 1/2 tablespoons of peanut butter or a small apple with a stick of light string cheese. Have two snacks per day with 150 calories each.
Amanda Hernandez is a registered dietitian who holds a Master of Arts degree in family and consumer sciences with an emphasis in dietetics from Western Michigan University. Her work has been featured in "Women's World" and "Women's Day" magazines. She writes for nutritionistreviews.com and has been a nutrition writer since 2010.