So what is a healthy balanced meal? In our busy day to day lives we don’t always have the time to be consciously thinking about specific ingredients and foods that you need to create a balanced meal! This blog explains ‘balance’ in more simple terms to avoid that dreaded weekly shop that ends up taking you hours.
Deciding what is the best option for you
Health and nutrition has taken off over the past few years as a trend that is followed and embraced as part of our culture. There is so much advice out there on what we shouldn’t be eating, leading to confusion of what actually is a healthy and contributes to a balanced meal?
Cutting out certain food groups isn’t the answer! Although a healthy balanced meal can be different for everyone, in general it should include a range of different foods to leave you feeling energised and satisfied.
Your diet should include a portion of healthy fats, a lean source of protein, a small portion of slow energy release carbohydrates and a wide selection of vegetables.
The 4 Food Groups
Protein is important for growth and repair of different tissues within the body. Protein in every meal will help keep you feeling fuller for longer, preventing overeating in one meal and/or binge eating on high sugar/fat/salt/ calorific foods.
Protein includes good quality animal sources such as fish, meat, eggs and dairy as well as plant based sources including quinoa, brown rice, millet and chickpeas.
Good Fats are essential for brain structure, with 50% of your brain being made of fat. Adding fat to your meal will aid satiety. Fat also aids the body to absorb important vitamins A, D, E and K (fat soluble vitamins). These vitamins are good for skin health as well as having their own individual functions in the body.
These include oils such as extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, hummus, nuts, seeds and oily fish.
Slow- energy release carbohydrates are the main source of energy for your body and are important for brain function, mood and ensuring good sleep. They are also very important when exercising regularly. They have a high nutrient and fibre content and have a much smaller impact on your blood glucose compared to refined carbohydrates.
These include quinoa, root vegetables and wholegrain carbohydrates.
Non-starchy vegetables make up a wide range of vegetables. These consist of essential vitamins and minerals, important for the normal functioning of different processes within the body, including your immune system. They are often high in fibre, which is important for bowel health.
These include green leafy veg, cruciferous veg and a range of other vegetables.
Your cells require enough salt to function properly. However, too much salt can cause a number of health problems including high blood pressure, increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease and stroke.
Although all these food sources contribute to a healthy balanced meal, it is important to be creative and include variety. Avoid the boredom by keeping it fun and experimenting. Take a look at our Instagram for some food inspiration.
Remember to always listen to your body, think about what it needs and provide nutrient dense foods to fuel it.