Low-Calorie Whole Foods Meal Ideas

Whole foods fill and satisfy.

Are you ready to cut calories but want a low calorie whole food diet rather than a calorie restricted diet filled with artificial sweeteners and processed foods? Experts agree that whole foods are the healthier choice, but they tend to have more calories. So how can you eat a whole food diet and cut calories?

Whole Foods Satisfy Longer

One of the problems people often face when following a low calorie diet such as a 1200 calorie diet or even 1500 calorie diet is that they get hungry. There is nothing wrong with feeling hunger, but when you eat a bowl of cereal for breakfast and it costs you 300 of your precious 1200 calories for the day and then you feel like you're starving two hours later, that is a problem. It makes it hard to stay on your diet. That feeling of hunger is a response to the type of cereal you ate. If you take a peek at the ingredients on the package label, you probably won't find the word "whole" included.

Instead of a processed breakfast cereal, opt for a whole grain breakfast made from old fashioned rolled oats. One serving is 150 calories. For a whole food sweetener, add 6 grams of seedless raisins for another 18 calories and top it off with the 1/2 cup of milk of your choice and total the calories. If you want to make the oatmeal breakfast last all the way to lunch, add a small handful of nuts. The protein and fat helps keep hunger at bay and you can still stay within 300 calories.

Low Calorie Whole Food Diet

If you plan to follow a low calorie whole food diet, you'll have to change your thinking in a number of ways. First is the fact that whole food calorie counts are often higher than the amounts found in manufactured diet foods, but that's okay. They satisfy for longer. You can eat less, feel satiated, lose weight, plus reap the nutritional benefits associated with whole foods.

Low Calorie Whole Food Lunch Options

Lunch can be one of the most challenging meals of the day when it comes to sticking to a low calorie diet and even more so if you want to eat whole foods, especially if you eat out. Some restaurants do offer whole food options, but many times dishes are filled with fat grams and sugar from sauces, dressings and other elements of the recipe. These added ingredients boost the calorie count. If you do eat out, learn to ask for sauces and dressings on the side.

A better idea is to limit eating out and to bring your lunch most days. When you make it yourself, you can easily eat a whole food lunch that's still low in calorie. Many of these foods are available through Whole Foods Market.

Sample Whole Food Lunches

The following sample lunches are 350 calories or fewer:Whole Food Low Calorie Lunch Sample One:

  • Whole wheat pita: 80 calories
  • Raw veggies chopped or shredded: ½ cup 25 calories
  • Cheese: 1 oz. 110 calories
  • Chicken cubed: 1/4 cup 83 calories
  • Small apple: 77 calories (2 3/4 inch diameter)
  • Water or herbal tea: 0 calories

Total calories: 298

Heat the sandwich just long enough to melt the cheese. You can add a little salsa or low-fat salad dressing for extra flavor and just a few more calories.

Whole Food Low Calorie Lunch Sample Two:

  • Chipotle Black Bean Soup: 290 calories or Hearty Lentil Soup: 280 calories
  • 1/2 serving of Whole Foods Market French Baguette: 70 calories
  • Water or herbal tea: 0 calories

Total calories: 350

Whole Food Low Calorie Dinners

As with any diet, designing a menu gets easier with experience. How many calories are in different foods can be learned by using an online calorie calculator or you can find calorie content for specific foods such as those made and sold by Whole Foods Market. They offer a large selection for those who want to buy whole food entrees to save time in the kitchen. Otherwise, if you make your own from scratch, cook larger amounts and store them in the freezer to have on hand.

Meat calories add up fast. Another way to trim calories is to consider eating vegetarian at least three days a week.


Lastly, plan your snacks. Fruits make an ideal whole food snack. The following list is based on ½ cup servings:

  • Apricot - 17 calories
  • Watermelon - 23 calories
  • Strawberries - 26 calories
  • Apple - 26 calories
  • Papaya - 27 calories
  • Cantaloupe - 27 calories
  • Plums - 30 calories
  • Honeydew - 30 calories
  • Blackberries - 31 calories
  • Peaches - 33 calories
  • Pineapple - 37 calories
  • Grapefruit - 39 calories


Low-Calorie Whole Foods Meal Ideas