The good news is that whether an individual wants to lose or gain weight, the principle dietary strategy centers around one thing- quantity. Other than individual taste preferences, there really isn’t any reason why you and your spouse can’t enjoy all the same foods with the simple difference of portion size.
Sizing It Up
All of us have a unique caloric level based on gender, age, height, weight and body composition that determines the amount of calories we need to maintain our current body weight. ACE has a tool for approximating that value offered in the Healthy Living section called the Daily Caloric Needs Estimate Calculator which may offer you a starting point for determining the estimated number of calories needed for each of you to simply maintain your current body weight. Standard fitness equations use the notion of 3,500 calories equaling 1 pound. Healthy weight change happens gradually-usually about 1-2 pound per week. Taking the 3,500 calorie formula and extending it over seven days in a week would mean that an individual would need to simply increase their intake by 500 calories each day beyond what is required to maintain their weight to gain 1 pound per week or decrease daily intake 500 below equilibrium to lose 1 pound (DHHS, 2005).
Whether gaining or losing weight is your goal, it’s always a good idea to ensure that you eat at least every 3-4 hours to help boost nutrient availability and metabolism. You’ll want to aim for snacks that have a combination of healthy carbohydrates for energy, along with protein to help stave off hunger till your next meal. A few examples to try may be:
• Low-Fat Cheese & Whole Wheat Crackers
• ½ Sandwich with Lean Meat-such as deli-style turkey or ham
• Light Yogurt & Granola
• Low/Non-Fat Cottage Cheese and Fresh Fruit
Portions in Proportion
Once you have an idea on your individual calorie levels, you’ll want to ensure that you each make choices that are healthy and incorporate the concepts outlined in the MyPlate program developed by the USDA. This is a program used by Registered Dietitian Nutritionists and the general public alike to help individuals make good nutritional choices and ensure that meal components are in the appropriate proportion to each other: fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy. Regardless if you are trying lose or gain weight, eating a balanced diet is easy once you understand the path you will both follow.
Your medical provider may be a great place to begin this journey together. There you may formulate a plan of action, discuss weight goals, as well as address the possibility of referring you to a Registered Dietitian who can help design a meal plan to fit your specific caloric needs.