We all crave balance. Whether you know it or not, balance is essential to you feeling your best and being able to accomplish all that you have set out to do each day. And eating a balanced meal is part of finding that overall balance each day. Today I’m going to share with you how to create a balanced meal in four easy steps.
What does a balanced meal look like? I’d venture to say that oftentimes, women who struggle with fatigue and decreased energy are dealing with that because of a lack of balance in their diets. A balanced diet means balance at each meal as well as balance in when and how they eat. Without balance, as you can imagine, it’s so much harder to feel well in your everyday tasks.
So why is balance in a meal so important? You may readily raise your hand to say that yes, we need balance with our meals. But what does that mean?
Balanced meals are created when you include 4 main food groups in each meal you sit down to eat. Many diets and weight-conscious programs encourage eliminating one of these food groups to promote weight loss. But what they don’t reveal to you is what you’ll have to give up with eliminating food. And that is, you’ll find yourself giving up that balance you need to stay energized.
Four Essentials to a Balanced Meal
Carbohydrates. Carbs are oftentimes feared. We hear that as we get older our bodies can’t tolerate carbohydrates. We hear that they are non-essential. We hear advertisements for low-carb items and low-carb meals that further our fear of eating carbohydrates. But carbs are necessary for your body. They are needed for brain and overall nervous system function, and without them your body will begin to break down muscle (not fat as so many people claim). I love this example from Intuitive Eating which compares a lack of carbohydrate consumption to pulling wood from the framework of a house for fuel in your fireplace. Eventually the house will fall. The best option when it comes to adding energy-giving carbohydrates to your meal is choosing those that are whole grains as often as you can. These include brown rice, oatmeal, wheat, quinoa, and corn (as well as others not listed). A quick rule of thumb for determining if something is whole grain or not is asking yourself how processed was this or that before I eat it.
Protein. Protein is next because it’s essential as the building block for most body functions. Protein is also beneficial in making a meal lasting and satisfying your hunger. Including some form of protein at each meal will give you more energy and mental stamina until you eat again. Some great forms of protein include meats, fish, beans, and nuts. People today oftentimes try to compensate a decrease in one of the other four essentials with increased protein. But most of us get way more than adequate protein in our diets. Protein should be viewed more as a side item instead of the main item.
Fat. Fat is overlooked or frowned on a lot with diets and even health advocators. But fat is essential for healthy skin, hair, and organs. It’s benefits stretch from strong nails to regular menses and even to a regular bowel regimen. But not only that, fat is needed to add that extra savory aspect to a meal that leaves you happy with eating.
Veggies. Vegetables are great for adding fiber, vitamins, antioxidants, and iron to a meal. Think of filling in all the holes in your balanced plate with veggie nutrition. And an added bonus to adding vegetables is the vibrant color, the beauty and visual satisfaction, that comes with piling on a variety on your plate.
Building a Balanced Plate in 4 Steps
Start with your carbohydrates. Shoot for making these complex carbs (meaning made of whole grains) for the majority of your meals. But there’s room for white rice and plain bagels when the occasion calls! Layer some whole grain or brown rice pasta on a plate, or a bed of brown rice or quinoa. Maybe for breakfast start with two slices of sprouted toast. Carbs, as stated above, are your essentials. Use them as the base for your balanced plate.
Next pick your protein of choice. Maybe you enjoy a chicken breast, or some slices of steak. Or maybe your preference is some black beans or tofu. Whatever you’re craving, choose that!
Then choose your fat. My absolute favorite way to add fat and that delicious savory factor to a meal is with a yummy sauce. Maybe it’s a pesto topped on pasta or a tahini sauce on a grain bowl. Avocados are another great way to add healthy fat to a meal. Be generous with your fat, giving yourself an amount that will satisfy you when you finish eating.
And lastly, layer on the veggies. Use these as a beautiful garnish to your otherwise colorless dish. Vegetables have a beautiful way of making a dish eye appealing…and when meals are more appealing we enjoy eating them more! Layer on some fresh sliced tomato or spiralize some zucchini into a pasta dish. Get creative with this and try different combos to your liking!
Notice an Increased Energy When Your Plate is Balanced
Once you begin regularly adding in ingredients to make your balanced meals, you’ll notice a rise in energy. You’ll also feel good about what you’re feeding your body and confident in your choices.
So give it a try and let me know how it goes? What do you notice changes with regularly eating balanced meals?
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