Balanced meals 101

When we eat in a ‘balanced’ way, we are more likely to be satisfied by the foods we eat and feel energised. If you aren’t familiar with the concept of balanced eating, it essentially means that at each meal, we should consume a serve of each of the macronutrients – protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats in addition to low starch vegetables.

To take this one step further, the ideal meal make up is as follow:

  • ½ plate low starch vegetables
  • ¼ plate protein
  • ¼ plate complex carbs
  • 1 serve health fats (approx. ½-1 tbsp)

The portions of each macronutrient, which make up the components of your plate, will depend on your individual requirements and activity levels.

In case you aren’t aware which foods fall under each type of macronutrient, please see below. Please note, the below list is not exhaustive, it just provides an idea of healthy choices under each category. Use this list as a guide to make sure you are having a source of each macronutrient at meal times.

ProteinComplex CarbsHealthy FatsLow starch vegetables
Eggs
Dairy – cheese, milk, yoghurt
Chicken, turkey, duck
Beef, lamb, veal, pork
Fish
Tofu
Legumes (also contain carbs)
Nuts/seeds (also a fat)
Protein powder
Falafel

Tip: If using legumes or nuts as a protein source you may choose to also have cheese to make up a full serve of protein. Or you may choose to have ½ serve of fish and add some cheese etc.
Brown rice
Quinoa
Wholemeal pasta
Buckwheat
Freekeh
Brown rice noodles
Sweet potato
Sourdough/grainy bread
Wholemeal cous cous
Oats
Wholegrain wraps
Legumes (also a protein)
Corn
Banana/fruit
Wholegrain cereal – bran flakes
Wholegrain crackers – Ryvitas
Green peas
Avocado
Olive oil
Nuts/seeds
Tahini
Nut butter
Olives
Dressings like pesto

Tip: if your protein choice already has a fair amount of fat eg salmon, and if trying to keep calorie intake low, you don’t need to add extra fat.
Leafy greens – lettuce, spinach, rocket, kale
Capsicum
Cucumber
Tomato
Green beans
Broccoli
Cauliflower
Cabbage
Eggplant
Zucchini
Snowpeas
Bean sprouts
Brussels sprouts
Onion
Celery
Mushrooms

Example meals using the balanced meal guide above

To give you an idea of what meals should look like when eating in a balanced way, please see the examples below:

Breakfastnot many of us consume vegetables at breakfast so if you are missing out here, try to include some vegetables at snack time

  • Wholegrain toast (carb) topped with eggs (protein) and avocado (fat) + handful rocket/spinach leaves (veg)
  • Omelette using eggs (protein) and tomato/spinach/herbs (veg) + toast (carb) cooked using a drizzle/spray of olive oil (fat)
  • Wholegrain cereal with banana/berries (carb) using milk (protein) and topped with LSA/flaxseeds (fat)

Lunch/Dinner

  • Wholegrain wrap (carb) topped with canned salmon (protein), avocado (fat) and salad of choice (veg)
  • Ryvitas (carb) topped with canned tuna (protein), avocado (fat) and salad (veg)
  • Brown rice (carb) tossed with leftover diced chicken (protein) and steamed broccoli (veg) and pesto dressing (fat)
  • Grilled steak (protein) served with mashed sweet potato using olive oil (carb/fat) + steamed greens (veg)
  • Stir-fry chicken and vegetables (protein/veg) served with rice (carb) and cooked with a drizzle/spray of olive oil (fat)
  • Parcel baked fish (protein) served with salad (veg) and steamed potatoes (carb) topped with pesto (fat)
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