Eating regular meals can help to prevent over indulging at any one sitting. When following a 2,000-calorie diet, eating three meals per day helps you take in all the calories and nutrients you need. Emphasizing healthy foods, practicing portion control and minimizing discretionary extras helps you stick to your 2,000-calorie goal and manage your weight.
Break your calories up evenly over your three meals. Make breakfast, lunch and dinner each contain about 650 to 700 calories. Each meal should consist of healthy carbohydrates, such as produce and whole grains, and lean protein. Accent the meals with servings of dairy and unsaturated fats.
A 2,000-calorie diet should include about six 1/2-cup servings of grains, 2 cups of fruit, 2 1/2 cups of vegetables, 5 1/2 oz. of meats or beans, 3 cups of dairy and 6 tsp. of oils, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Guide Pyramid. Of the six servings of grains, strive to make three of them whole grains, such as brown rice, oatmeal, bran cereal, whole-wheat pasta and whole grain breads. Go for a variety of vegetables and fruits, aiming for richly colored varieties. Low-fat or non-fat milk products and proteins low in saturated fat, such as poultry, fish and beans, help keep your unhealthy fat consumption in check. Much of the 6 tsp. of oil comes from foods you incorporate into your meals, such as in meats and dairy. If you do need to add additional fats to your diet to reach 25 to 35 percent of calories, choose unsaturated fats such as olive oil, nuts and avocados.
A 2,000-calorie diet leaves some room for extras such as sweets, added fats, additional helpings from the food groups and alcohol. Keep these discretionary calories to less than 15 percent of daily calories, or about 265 calories, or about 90 calories per meal. Butter, non-dairy creamer, cakes or cookies and sauces all count toward this allotment.
If you find three meals per day leaves you hungry or unable to hit nutritional targets, consider decreasing the calories you consume at each meal slightly and adding small snacks. Snacking is a strategy that can help you fit in extra nutrients and prevent uncontrollable hunger at meals. Healthy snacks such as fruit, 1-oz. servings of nuts, yogurt and cut up vegetables are good choices on a 2,000-calorie plan.
A three-meal, 2,000-calorie plan may begin with a whole egg scrambled with two egg whites with a whole-wheat English muffin. Have 8 oz. of orange juice and an 8-oz. container of low-fat, plain yogurt with ½ cup of blueberries and 1 oz. chopped walnuts on the side. At lunch, make a sandwich with two slices of whole grain bread, 2 oz. of lean ham, mustard, sliced tomato and baby spinach. One cup of baby carrots and red pepper strips with 2 cups of low-fat cottage cheese and 2 tbsp. of salsa makes a filling and nutritious side. At dinner, have 1 cup of whole-wheat pasta mixed with 2 oz. ground turkey, ½ cup low-fat ricotta cheese, ½ cup broccoli and ½ cup marinara sauce. Have a small 100-calorie cookie for dessert.