You know that feeling… wanting to eat a healthy diet but not knowing where to start.
There’s endless information available, about what you should and shouldn’t chomp on.
And so, you can be forgiven for finding it all a bit too much to handle.
Wouldn’t you just rather someone told you exactly what to eat and when?
Well here you have it… a perfect days’ worth of eating, compiled by a dietitian, for those who want to eat well, boost their health and crucially not have to think about it.
And don’t worry, it’s not as hard as it sounds.
So from waking up to hitting the hay, here’s a step-by-step daily diet…
Blended vegetable juice
The first important step in building a strong diet platform is to eat something early to help get the metabolism going.
Starting the day with a vegetable juice, made using a blender to retain as much fibre as possible means that you get two to three servings of vegetables in one hit.
A great mix is a carrot, celery and beetroot — rich in antioxidants, low in sugars and calories.
Vegetable omelette with a slice of wholegrain toast
A portion controlled serving of wholegrain carbs from toast or oats will help to fuel your muscles and control sugar cravings through the morning.
Meanwhile, the protein-rich eggs will help to keep you full until lunchtime.
Adding an extra serving or two of vegetables is another simple way to add more nutrients and fibre into your day which will again help to keep you full through the morning.
A cup of coffee
A hit of caffeine early in the day is an easy way to boost metabolic rate and while milk is a great source of well-absorbed calcium.
But beware, the sugars can add up and as such as smaller version of your favourite coffee will save you some extra sugars.
Following this aim to drink another 500-600ml of filtered water throughout the morning to help keep you hydrated.
Vegetable soup and half a salmon wrap, 500ml water and green tea
When you have enjoyed a protein and vegetable rich breakfast you should be full until late morning in time to enjoy an early lunch.
Ideally the body needs at least three to four hours in between meals to allow the hormones that control fat metabolism to return to baseline levels.
As such, skipping a mid-morning snack in favour of a filling, early lunch offers potential benefits when it comes to weight control.
Nutritionally an ideal lunch will contain at least two servings of vegetables or salad, a serving of lean protein from fish, chicken, lean meat or legumes and a serving or two of good quality carbs for glucose control.
Meals that offer this mix include a soup or salad with half a sandwich; leftover pasta or brown rice stir fry; frittata and salad or an open warm salad bowl.
While we traditionally turn to sandwiches, crackers or sushi for quick light lunch options, there is a lot to be said for enjoying a hearty, filling lunch early in the day to keep you full and fuelled for several hours after eating it.
Another lunchtime trick is to finish the meal with herbal or green tea to help cleanse the palate and provide some extra fluid and antioxidants.
Nut muesli Bar, punnet of berries and 300ml water
A late afternoon snack serves a number of purposes — firstly it takes the edge of any impending hunger so you are not tempted by sweet treats.
But it also serves an appetite control mechanism to stop you bingeing when you walk in the door after a long day.
For many of us, this part of the day is when we will be the most sedentary and as such as tend to need fewer carbs.
For this reason, calorie controlled, protein rich snacks that contain controlled amounts of carbs are the key — cheese and crackers, nuts and fruit or a nut-based snack bar work well.
On the other hand for those who train after work, a more substantial snack of carbs and protein such as a tuna or salmon wrap, Greek yoghurt and fruit or an energy bar will help to fuel you for another two to three hours to dinner time.
Again sipping your way through another bottle of filtered water will support optimal hydration.
Grilled salmon fillet, roasted vegetables with olive oil, small glass of red wine, 300ml water
In an ideal work, we would eat the last meal of the day by 8pm at the latest to ensure that the body has 10 to 12 hours without food overnight.
For most of us, dinner should be a light meal, to support both weight control and the fact that much of the evening is spent sitting.
A hand size serve of lean protein (150-200g, cooked), along with two to three servings of vegetables or salad is the key to success.
Plain, light dinners in the week also allow for some extra indulgence come the weekend when you are more likely to eat out and consume extra calories.
When it comes to carbs, whether you need any carb rich foods at dinner will largely come down to your dietary goals.
If your goal is weight control, half to one serving of carbs or a small glass or two of red wine will add another couple of hundred calories to your daily intake.
Herbal tea, 20g (2 squares dark chocolate)
Tea and coffee both contain caffeine which is not ideal to consume five to six hours before we sleep and as such herbal tea will offer you fluid minus any calories or caffeine.
A couple of squares of dark chocolate is another way to enjoy small treat after dinner without blowing out your calorie intake, although chocolate does contain some caffeine so watch your portions.