Friday, February 29, 2008

Meal Planning

By Courtney Westlake


While it may not be necessary to specifically count calories, it is important to watch what you eat and be aware of your daily intake because it helps maintain your current lifestyle.

"If you don't exercise and you eat more than your body can burn in a day, you start to put on excess weight; that's how we put on five pounds or 10 pounds over the years," said Amanda Jillson, assistant director of fitness and instructional programs at the TRAC. "Watch the amount of calories you're taking in, but also make sure they're the healthy calories, not just simple sugars, candy, sodas."

People have to burn 3,500 calories to burn one pound of fat. While it sounds like a lot, everyone's body is different depending on how much lean muscle you have, Jillson said.

"For instance, just living and standing here, my body is burning 1,400 to 1,500 calories a day without exercising. So if I'm not getting that amount of calories, I'm not doing my body any good," Jillson said. "So I aim for 1,600 or 1,800 calories a day, so when I work out, I can lose weight. It's definitely true that you have to eat to lose weight."

To help members of the campus community with nutrition education and personal wellness, the TRAC offers a great meal planning system through the American Dietetic Association. Using the meal planning system is $10 and to get your body composition, the cost is $5.

During the body composition test, one's body fat is compared to their lean muscle tissue, so it tests how many fat pounds are on the body. A computer is then able to create a proper diet plan, "although I don't want to call it a diet plan," Jillson noted, "because it's more of a lifestyle plan."

Participants can select a certain plan based off of any conditions like diabetes, and put in their food preferences. The computer then prints out a week's worth of meal options.

Meal planning can be very beneficial, not just for certain people, but for everyone, Jillson said.

"It's really hard to make that decision every day about what to eat," she said. "Meal planning gives you several choices of what to eat every single day. And it breaks everything down through percentages, so you don't have to calculate anything; it does it for you if you stay within the meal plan."