Use Progressive Meal Planning to Sneak Healthier Foods into Your Diet

With so many food choices to make in a given day, time and time again you may feel overwhelmed to make the best and healthiest choices.

But healthy eating is not about choosing between good choices and bad choices.

Instead, it’s about finding foods that you enjoy and taste good – and then sneaking healthier foods into those meals and snacks.

I call this progressive meal planning which I discuss in my latest book, Six Factors to Fit: Weight Loss that Works for You!

Progressive meal planning allows you to find easy ways to add more nutritious foods to your diet.

Here are some examples:

1 – If you like cereal

Maybe your go-to cereal isn’t high fiber but you love the taste.

Find a high fiber cereal with 5 or more grams of fiber to mix in with your current cereal.

Examples may include Kashi Autumn Wheat, Nature’s Path Flax Plus Multibran Flakes or Kellogg’s All Bran.

Read the nutrition facts labels and take into consideration the calories per serving size and added sugars of the cereals you’re combining.

Topping with heart healthy almonds and nutritious berries can make this meal even more satisfying.

Progressing your breakfast meal to one that is higher in fiber and lower in sugar and calories is the goal.

1 – If you like pizza

Pizza offers many good-tasting options that can be tweaked and enjoyed.

Instead of eating deep dish pizza with meat, try thin crust with vegetables. You can also ask for ‘easy cheese’.

So many advances in convenience-based grocery store pizza crusts allows you to enjoy healthier, thin pizza at home.

Caulipower pizza crust (made from Cauliflower) or Angelic Bakehouse whole grain pizza crust allows you to make a healthy pizza dinner in minutes. Top with your favorite vegetables like broccoli and roasted red onions or mushrooms and green peppers.

2 – If you like sandwiches

Here’s where you can sneak in healthier whole grains in the form of a tortilla or bagel/ sandwich thin as a calorie-controlled way to still enjoy your sandwiches.

Progressing the type of sandwich matters too.

Swap the roast beef for plant-based options such as avocado and hard-boiled egg or hummus and cucumber.

Make Mondays your ‘meatless meals’ day for trying new food combinations that give your health a boost.

3 – If you like pasta

Consider creating a new kind of pasta meal with less pasta and more vegetables.

Vegetables are nutrition powerhouses that have many benefits in the way of more fiber, vitamins and minerals, while also lowering the calorie density of your meal.

You can progress your meal even more by trying zucchini or squash noodles as your pasta alternative.

Make your own vegetable ‘noodles’ using a spiralizer or find store-bought, ready-to-eat ‘noodles’ in the produce section.

Or our new favorite pasta is chickpea pasta which has more fiber and tastes great with olive oil, parmesan cheese and roasted vegetables.

If your go-to pasta sauce is a cream-based or tomato meat sauce, try making a lighter tomato sauce with seared shrimp for added protein and flavor.

Progressive meal planning allows you to make small changes to what you are already doing instead of creating an entirely new plan.

Over time, you can gradually tweak your diet and ease into a healthier way of eating – for you and your family.

Stay safe and be well!


Robert Kushner, MD


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