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Building a Balanced Plate: Healthy Meal Composition Guide


 

Last week we spoke about meal preparation tips to make eating well-balanced meals easier, this week we will be discussing meal composition. Keep reading for tips and tricks to make well-balanced and healthy meals!

 

What should you include in your meals?


Vegetables – Aim for variety and colour with every meal, this is a great way to get enough vitamins minerals, and fibre. Fibre will help to keep your digestive tract healthy and functioning smoothly.

Fruit – It is recommended to get your daily fruit intake from fresh fruit rather than juices, this allows for more fiber and vitamin intake. 

Whole Grains – Whole wheat, barley, quinoa, brown rice, and oats help to keep blood sugar levels low. Rises in blood sugar can cause cravings, and overeating, and chronic high blood sugar can increase the risk of health concerns.  Whole grains are also a great source of carbohydrates, which are the body's first choice as an energy source.

Protein – Poultry, fish, eggs, Greek yogurt, beans, and legumes are all great sources of lean protein. Protein has several functions in the body, the main one being to build and repair tissues. This includes muscle, bone, ligaments, and even your hair and nails! Protein will also help to keep you full and satiated, especially if you are in a caloric deficit. 

Healthy fats – Include healthy fats in your meals such as olive oil, avocado, cheese, nuts, and seeds. Our bodies need fats for hormone production, brain function, and vitamin absorption. 

 

How much should I be eating?

Everyone will have different caloric needs based on their body and goals, however, there are a few great rules to follow to create balanced meals. 

·       Include at least one handful of vegetables with every meal, to get a minimum of 4 servings of vegetables daily. 

·       Include at least 2 pieces of fruit daily, if you are opting for something like berries use a handful for your serving size. 

·       Include a minimum of one serving of protein at every meal, your palm size is an easy way to see a portion size. Aim to eat at least 4 servings of protein daily. 

·       Include at least 1 serving of whole grains with each meal, an example of one serving is a cupped handful. 

·       Include at least 1 serving of healthy fats with every meal, you can use the size of your thumb to easily portion a serving size.

 

What should I be limiting or avoiding?

There are not inherently “bad” foods, however, there are foods that are less nutritious and should be eaten in moderation. The foods below should be limited:

·       Foods high in saturated fats and sodium such as fast food, chips, and some crackers.

·       Highly processed meats such as hams, sausages, and lunch meats.

·       Meats high in fat such as red meat, lamb, and veal. 

·       Processed, sugary foods such as baked goods.

· High-fat dairy items such as ice cream, heavy cream, butter, and cream cheese. 

 

As you can see, there is no specific food to eat that equates to eating healthy; eating whole, fresh foods with lots of colour and variety will give you a well-balanced diet!

 

If you have questions or want more tips on creating well-balanced meals, contact one of our Health & Fitness professionals today at personaltraining@heavensacademy.com

 

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