Quick Tips to Make a Healthy and Balanced Meal

Photo of a salad as a healthy and balanced meal

Pizza, tacos, spaghetti and French fries… it’s 2022 and time to step up your game! What’s on your plate and how do you make it a healthy meal?

This seems simple, but with so many options out there, it can be confusing to determine how to build a healthy meal that meets your needs. What do you put on your plate?

Protein First

Your body needs protein! This body-building nutrient in food is made up of amino acids and is necessary to both cell structure and function. It also keeps you feeling full between meals.

There are many protein-rich foods you can add to your diet. Lean beef, chicken and fish are the usual favorites, but don’t forget about other sources such as low-fat dairy, yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese and beans/legumes.

The recommended protein requirement is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. Certain things can change this recommendation, such as strength-training, kidney disease or bariatric surgery. A general rule of thumb is to fill a quarter (1/4) of your plate with lean protein sources.

Add these to your plate:

  • Marinated lean grilled steak
  • Air fried chicken strips
  • Spicy ground taco meat
  • Turkey pepperoni and cheese
  • Ham and cheese lunch meat roll-ups

Fill up on Fruits and Vegetables

There are so many choices! Choose a variety of colors each day to get different nutrients that your body needs. Fruits and veggies are lower in calories, high in fiber and packed with nutrition.

How much do you need? According to MyPlate.Gov, aim to fill half (1/2) your plate with fruits and vegetables. This can be easy to remember, but can you fit them all in? Here are some ways to add more vegetables to your day.

  • Add a side spinach salad to your dinner
  • Put some broccoli slaw in your lunch box
  • Make steamed carrots as a sweet side dish
  • Use fresh fruit salad as an addition to your breakfast
  • Chop some watermelon for a quick snack

You Still Need Carbs

Despite what some of the trendy diet plans claim, your body needs carbs for energy and daily function. There are many choices to consider, but they aren’t all created equal. For example, instead of choosing white pasta, white rice and processed foods, choose whole grain pasta, brown rice and quinoa.

As a general rule of thumb, aim to full a quarter (1/4) of your plate with whole grain carbohydrates. It’s important not to overdo your portions. Carbohydrate-rich foods tend to be many people’s favorite, so it’s easy to eat more than you actually need.

Let’s Recap

A full and balanced meal consists of protein, fruits, vegetables and healthy carbohydrates. There are some things that don’t need to be on your plate such as sweets, desserts and fried foods. While you don’t need these foods, however, it doesn’t mean they are never to be eaten. Choose them more sparingly and balance them into a healthy way of eating.

All foods can fit into your diet plan/lifestyle. Just work on ensuring the majority of your food choices are balanced and packed with nutrition.

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