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.
|Protein||Complex Carbs||Healthy Fats||Low starch vegetables|
Dairy – cheese, milk, yoghurt
Chicken, turkey, duck
Beef, lamb, veal, pork
Legumes (also contain carbs)
Nuts/seeds (also a fat)
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 noodles
Wholemeal cous cous
Legumes (also a protein)
Wholegrain cereal – bran flakes
Wholegrain crackers – Ryvitas
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
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:
Breakfast – not 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)
- 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)