Stage 4 will bring new variety with the introduction of fruit to your meal plan. You may be thinking, “But I’ve already been eating berries, how is stage 4 different?” If you are enjoying these tasty carbohydrate sources and have no intention of replacing them, by all means keep them! But stage 4 will also increase your repertoire by adding in the rest of the fruits as well. So, get excited! And if you aren’t, just keep in mind that you can replace the berries in your morning shake with ½ a banana (chocolate shake, ½ of a banana, with one tablespoon of peanut butter… YUM!).
For more comprehensive detail regarding serving sizes, and recommendations, refer to the stage 4 video. Serving size is going to be key when it comes to fruit, specifically that one serving is either half of a cup of cut fruit, or one tennis ball sized fruit. Like the berries in the previous stages, fruit is going to provide your source of carbohydrates in the meal plan. This means that whether it is ½ cup berries with your meal, or ½ an apple, carbohydrates are essential for energizing both your body and brain. So you may keep your berries, or substitute in other types of fruits, or have a combination of both. This is your meal plan, so don’t hesitate to make substitutions to make your meals fit you!
Fruit is the first food group we have added back out of the 20/20 Lifestyles meal that is a “carb.” This means from here on out, all “carbs,” such as fruit, will need to be paired with another food item, specifically a fat or a protein. Carbohydrates will ALWAYS need a fat or a protein buddy, so keep this important tip in mind!
Here are some tips to help you out in stage 4. Limit canned fruits; eat fresh as often as possible. If you do choose to eat canned fruits, focus on items canned in their own juice. Many canned fruits are submerged in heavy syrup, which adds both sugar and calories to the food. If you’re using canned fruits in their own juice, make sure you drain them before eating.
Fruits, paired with a protein or a fat buddy, make wonderful snacks! For example, ½ a banana with 2 teaspoons of peanut butter, an apple with 1 oz. of low fat cheese, ½ cup mixed fruit and 3 tablespoons of unsweetened shredded coconut, are all examples of delicious snack ideas! For more recipe ideas, refer to the stage 4 20/20 Lifestyles Cooking Video! Fresh fruit can make a great salad topper, and homemade fruit salsas are a great summery addition to salmon.
So, moving forward, familiarize yourself with how large a tennis ball is! This will make grocery shopping for fruits such as oranges, apples, or pears much easier. If not, ½ of a regular sized apple or banana is a safe bet when measuring types of fruits we don’t traditionally cut up.
Congratulations for reaching stage 4! You are midway through the stages of the meal plan, and making great strides towards accomplishing your health and wellness goals!