Boston University Sargent Choice Nutrition Center

Meal Planning as Easy as 1+2+3

Once you understand basic nutrients and how your body responds to them, you can plan what you eat according to when you’ll eat next.

Let’s say you have a 3-hour lab every Tuesday afternoon at 3:00. Last week, you had a Sargent Choice vegetable and hummus snack pack before class. Afterward, you felt satisfied until dinnertime. Today, you chose another healthy snack that filled you up—an apple. But by the time class ended, you were so hungry that you couldn’t even wait to get back to the residence hall. Instead, you gulped down a burger and fries at the nearest fast food place. How come?

The nutrients in the two snacks differ in the way they relieve hunger, now and later. But you don’t have to be a nutritional wizard to choose the right foods at the right time. All you need are a couple of simple charts.

The 1 + 2 + 3 solutions

We’ve worked out an easy way to choose the right combination of nutrients for any meal or snack: simple charts that list a wide variety of healthy foods in three categories.

  • Energy you need right now. Whole grains and starchy vegetables give you the quick energy you need when you’re hungry because they provide a concentrated source of carbohydrate.  We’ve listed nutritious whole grain breads, cereals, cooked grains and starchy vegetables.  But if you let yourself fill up on them, you’ll probably eat more than you need so you will want to add…………
  • Filling power. Fruits and non-starchy vegetables also contain carbohydrate but they fill you up because of their high water and fiber content.  They will help you feel satisfied with the right amount of starchy carbohydrate.  But since carbohydrate energy doesn’t last more than an hour or two, you will want to add………..
  • Protein to make it last. Just when carbohydrate energy is running out, protein kicks in.  We’ve listed heart-healthy protein sources that will make your energy last 3–4 hours.

If you’re hungry now and will eat again in an hour, all you need is some short-term filling power. The apple or any other piece of fruit will do that. Two hours to go?  Add some protein to your fruit or vegetable.  But if your next meal is 4 hours away, the most satisfying meal or snack will include all 3 kinds of foods.

The charts are easy to use. Print them and keep them handy. Soon you won’t even need to refer to them any more.

For More Information

Not sure how to keep the right foods on hand for meals and snacks?  In the video below Sargent Choice Nutrition Center director, Stacey Zawacki, explains how to  stock your kitchen for success!  You can also check out a handy copy of our Healthy Shopping List.


Video by Alan Wong.  Originally featured in BU Today.