How to create a balanced meal – an important aspect to consider when living a healthy lifestyle. Below are tips on what a balanced meal looks like, why it’s important, and how to begin creating your own balanced meals.
Have you ever heard the importance of consuming a balanced diet? What does that really mean? Allow me to break it down into simpler terms, starting with defining what a balanced meal is.
A balanced meal will contain all three macronutrients including complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, and lean proteins. When consuming whole foods within each macronutrient group, you are also providing your body with micronutrients your body craves such as vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients.
Complex carbohydrates consist of:
Healthy fats consist of:
Lean proteins consist of:
Consuming all three macronutrients within one meal will help with balancing blood sugars (a concept important for every individual, not just those with diabetes!), provide stable energy, improve body composition, balance hormones, increase optimal athletic performance, and promote satiety.
Incorporating a variety of nutrient dense, whole foods within your meals will promote adequate consumption of a variety of fiber, vitamins, and minerals to help promote proper digestion and gut health.
Consuming all three macronutrients is crucial as each plays a vital role in overall health. Complex carbohydrates are used as the main source of energy in the body and promote proper gut health, healthy fats support heart health and the absorption of fat soluble vitamins, and lean protein supports muscle building/maintenance, healthy bones, and hormone production.
Balanced meals will also keep you feeling full and satisfied until your next meal or snack, due to the slower digestion process. For example, when consuming a meal consisting of salmon, mashed potatoes, and lemon roasted asparagus, you are digesting a good source of protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats that slow down the digestion process and balance blood sugars that may have spiked if you consumed the mashed potatoes alone. The combo of complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, and lean protein is the key to sustained satisfaction until your next meal.
A simple rule of thumb is to include a source of complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, and lean protein within each meal. Do this by adding a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy products, nuts and seeds, and lean meats to your plate. Aim for consuming at least 20 grams of protein and 5-10 grams of fiber per meal.
This can also be done when you are dining out – the key is to choosing whole foods in each macronutrient group that have great flavor and texture you enjoy. Review my recipes for more balanced meal ideas and inspiration!