Back to Basics: What Makes a Truly Balanced Meal
When talking about healthy living, there’s one piece of advice we commonly hear from the people around us, and that is: “Eat balanced meals.”
They’re not wrong, but what exactly is a balanced meal? How do we get balanced meals in San Diego? And how do we make sure we get enough nutrients daily?
Balancing Your Meal Plate
A quick and easy way to know whether or not your meal is balanced is to make sure the core food groups are properly represented on the plate.
There are six types of nutrients that are essential for our good health and survival. These are:
- Lipids or fats
Among these six essential nutrients, there are three that we should focus on more for a balanced meal: carbohydrates, protein, and fats.
These three are also referred to as macronutrients since our bodies need them in larger amounts. Macronutrients provide our bodies with the energy we need for the day.
Carbs for Energy
A balanced meal should be made up of one-quarter carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are responsible for providing energy to our muscles, brain, and the entire body.
Common carbohydrate-rich foods include:
- Other cereals and grains
Protein for Growth
Protein should make up another quarter of any balanced food plate. However, anyone who is trying to build up muscle mass should increase their protein intake.
Proteins are the nutrients necessary to improve and maintain our muscle tissue. They are also needed for boosting hormone and enzyme production.
Examples of protein-rich food are:
- Red meat
Many protein-rich foods, like meat and eggs, are also excellent sources of fatty acids. Fats are necessary for added energy and absorbing vitamins and minerals.
Veggies for Metabolism
Half of a balanced food plate should be reserved for vegetables, fruits, or other plants. These include nuts, seeds, and herbs.
Vegetables are rich in a variety of nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. These nutrients are important to keep our metabolism and body organs functioning well.
Fruits and vegetables are also our main sources of fiber. Fiber is important in aiding digestion. Fiber also helps regulate bowel movements, cholesterol levels, and blood sugar levels.
Going Beyond the Macronutrients
Just because macronutrients are important doesn’t mean this is the only food we should eat. Another key component of a balanced meal is our water intake. We should all be drinking at least eight glasses or two liters of water per day.
Although known for being “unhealthy” and often called “junk food,” processed food has a place in our diets, too. However, it is essential to eat this in moderation.
Fixing an Unbalanced Meal
Many meals that are known for being healthy are actually not balanced meals. Two prime examples are oatmeal with fruit and chicken and spinach salad.
Oatmeal and fruit are excellent sources of carbohydrates and fiber. However, this meal does not provide us with the fats and protein we need. A quick addition of nuts and seeds can fix this unbalanced meal.
In a chicken and spinach salad, we only get protein, fiber, and fatty acids in the dressing. Adding some grains or bread to the meal quickly balances it out.
Not every meal you eat has to look like the ideal balanced plate we discussed. One or two unbalanced meals can still be balanced out with others across the course of a week. Ensuring a properly balanced meal takes considerable time, energy, and commitment, though. That’s why Lean & Tasty is here to help you achieve a balanced meal without the headache.