Your “Get Back on Track” Meal Plan 11 February 2014

Tired of complicated meal plans to lose weight? If you can count to three and know your food groups, you will quickly be able to follow this 3-2-3-2-3 meal plan which I developed for my weight loss clients. Of course, portion control is important; however, by choosing foods from all five food groups (fruits, vegetables, grains, meat and meat alternatives, and dairy) each day you can lose weight without developing any vitamin or mineral deficiencies. For a quick review of the different foods in each food group, click on this link

Think of the 3-2-3-2-3 meal plan as a game with a few basic rules but many choices of foods you like.

Game Rules

  1. Eat at least three food groups for each meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner).
  2. Eat at least two food groups together for a snack.
  3. Each time you eat, one food group must be a fruit or a vegetable.

Step 1: Print out this 3-2-3-2-3 Meal Plan Hand Out

Step 2: Start with breakfast (3).

If you do not eat breakfast because of time, ask yourself, how long does it take you to drink an 8 oz. glass of low-fat milk and 1/2 cup of orange juice? Less than 5 minutes? You have time!

78% of people who lost weight and kept it off for one year ate breakfast

Write down what you ate and drank for breakfast. How many food groups do these foods represent?

If you ate peanut butter on whole grain bread, you have eaten two food groups. Tomorrow challenge yourself to add a cut up apple on the side so you have three food groups, with one food group a fruit.

Step 3: Morning Snack (2)

Try to pair a fruit or a vegetable with a food that contains protein for a snack. I like to eat red peppers and carrots dipped in hummus (great protein source!) or the delicious combination of an apple with a low fat mozzarella cheese stick.

Step 4: Lunch (3)

Write down what you ate and drank for lunch. Again, try to eat at least three food groups, with one food group being a fruit or a vegetable.

Step 5: Afternoon Snack (2)

Matching a fruit or a vegetable with a food that contains protein helps control blood sugars and gives you longer lasting energy. Try a low fat Greek yogurt with blueberries on top!

Step 6: Supper (3)

For supper most people easily eat at least three food groups. Look at your proportions of foods. Make sure that vegetables fill half the plate. With my family, I try to divide the vegetable section so that 1/4 of the plate is raw vegetables (for example, a colorful salad, carrots sticks, cucumbers) and 1/4 of the plate is a cooked vegetable (such as roasted broccoli, kale chips, Swiss chard).


  1. Try the 3-2-3-2-3 meal plan for a few days and then make changes that fit with your busy lifestyle.
  2. Maybe, you are not hungry for a morning snack, then skip it. One of my weight loss clients added the number of calories she ate at supper plus the calories from her afternoon snack. When she compared these total calories to the calories she ate one day at supper without the afternoon snack, the number of calories for just that meal was greater. She said, “My planned healthy snack helped me make wiser choices of foods and portion sizes at my next meal.”
  3. Where are the 5 C's you may ask in this meal plan? Chocolate, Cookies, Cola, Cake, Candy. The 5 C's can be included in a healthy meal plan, just make sure they make up less than 10% of your calories. Thus, if you are eating 2000 calories, the 5 C's should be less than 200 calories for the day.

One of my weight loss clients said last week,

“The 3-2-3-2-3 meal plan is easy to follow using every day foods that I like.
The snacks prevent me from overeating at meals.”

Martha Henze, MS, RD, Traveling Taste Buds, LLC,
Martha is an instructor at a community college, avid tennis player, and tries to attend cooking school in every country she visits.

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Disclaimer: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit your healthcare provider or medical professional.

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