Cooking for one is hard to do, and doing it healthfully makes a daunting task even more difficult. For a single man, trying to find a nutritious, tasty and easy-to-make meal can be tricky. However, by following basic food guidelines and watching out for added fat and salt, you can have healthy and easily prepared meals whenever you need them.
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Food Chart Breakdown
For an adult man who maintains a healthy, weekly exercise routine of 150 minutes per week of physical activity, a 2,000-calorie-per-day diet is generally considered sufficient. However, if you regularly engage in intense physical activity, you may need to increase your calorie intake accordingly. Aim for a total of 6 ounces of grains and 5 1/2 ounces of lean protein per day. Include at least 2 1/2 cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruits in your daily diet. Eat no more than 6 teaspoons of added fats and oils per day.
Grains, Vegetables and Fruit
Make half of your total grain serving whole grains, such as brown rice, millet or barley. Vary the type of vegetables you eat to include a mix of dark green, red, orange and starchy vegetables, such as beans, peas and potatoes, each week. Include fresh fruits more often than canned fruits or fruit juice. A balanced meal plan would be one slice of multigrain bread in the morning with butter and a banana, and lunch could be a large, mixed-vegetable salad or a bowl of chunky vegetable soup. For supper, consider brown rice with sauteed mixed vegetables, with a cup of fresh fruit for dessert.
Dairy Products and Proteins
You need a minimum of 3 cups of dairy per day. Include 1-cup servings of yogurt or a 3-ounce serving of cheese three times a day to meet your dairy needs. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends consuming fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products instead of whole milk. Include a variety of protein choices such as legumes, nuts and seeds as well as poultry and lean red meats. Twice a week, have seafood be the primary protein source. Building on the same meal plan, include a boiled egg or a serving of low-fat cheese with your lunchtime salad. Adding beans to a vegetable soup or a bean dip with vegetable sticks as a side will also help you meet your protein requirement. For supper, a broiled salmon filet or a baked, skinless chicken breast alongside the brown rice and vegetables will provide the protein you need.
Sodium and Dietary Fiber
The American diet is generally high in sodium and low in dietary fiber, both of which can cause health problems in the long term. The upper limit of sodium per day is 2,300 milligrams for men, and 1,500 milligrams for those who have a history of heart disease, are older than 51 or are African American. To reduce your sodium intake, season your foods with dried herbs and spices, and avoid seasoned salt products and prepared and processed foods. The recommended amount of dietary fiber for men is between 30 and 38 grams per day. Eating enough fruits and vegetables and including more whole grains in your diet will help boost your dietary fiber intake. A diet high in dietary fiber can help prevent and treat constipation, diverticulitis and hemorrhoids.