Healthy Eating - How to easily balance a meal?

Eating is an habit, pleasure,… But also a need. And like any need, some criteria has to be respected to ensure a good function of our body. In this article, I would like to tell you more about how to balance meals and have an healthy way of eating.



What is a balanced diet?

According to Professor Serge Hercberg, it means: ‘to combine pleasure and health’.


A lot of people forget about the psychological processes engaged when eating. Eating isn’t just filling a need anymore, since there are so many temptations everywhere. It is impossible to ignore the constant marketing hype: appetizing posters, tempting video spots, smells in the street,…

It’s not about eating to fill our body, it’s all about finding a meal which makes us happy (psychological side).


To put it clearly, the psychological side prevents us from listening correctly to our needs. What your body needs to function are:

  1. Macronutrients which are essential energy vectors (the ‘big bricks’): lipids (fat), proteins and carbohydrates (sugars).

  2. Micronutrients which are in charge of basic functions (the ‘little stones’): vitamins, minerals,…

A balanced meal must therefore contain these essential elements. Psychology adds that a balanced meal should also give pleasure.

How to easily balance a meal?

First thing first, you need to select the right ingredients.


1. VEGETABLES

Vegetables is the most important part of a balanced meal: source of fibers, vitamins, minerals, trace elements and antioxidants. It is better to eat them raw, whenever it is possible, as it will help your body to retain a maximum of micronutrients.


Note: not all vegetables are suitable for raw consumption, like eggplants.


Some specialists stress the emphasis on macronutrients first. I personally think that micronutrients are the priority. They regulate a lot of functions within the body.


And what about fruits? Simply because their fast digestion makes their consumption more suitable as a snack. That said, if you still want to eat them during meal time, consider to cook them lightly in order to prevent them from disturbing the digestion processes.



2. A SOURCE OF PROTEIN

Once you decided on the vegetables you will eat, let’s find a good high protein food to pair with. There are several sources of proteins:

  • Meats: red meats (beef,…), white meats (poultry, pork,…).

  • Fish and seafood: fatty fish (salmon, mackerel,…), white fish (hake, cod,…).

  • Eggs: chicken, quail,…

  • Dairy products: milk (cow, sheep, goat,…), cheeses (cow, sheep, goat,…), yoghurts.

  • Legumes: beans (red, white, black,…), peas (chick, split,…) lentils (green, coral, black, pink,…) soy (seeds, tofu, tempeh,…).

  • Nuts and oilseeds: walnuts (cashew,…), peanuts, almonds, hazelnuts,…

  • Seeds: squash, sunflower, sesame, flax, chia,…

  • Fruits: avocado.


3. FAT

It is important to add some fat. I usually recommend seasoning your dish with a quality vegetable oil such as olive, rapeseed, linseed or hazelnut oil.


Note: some protein sources may already contain fats (like meats, fishes, egg yolks, cheese, nuts, oilseeds and seeds). They can be substituted for or added to your fat source.


Note that there are several fat sources that are to be balanced. I personally take omega-3 as supplements. It all depends on your needs.

4. CARBOHYDRATES

It is optional, depending on hunger and level of physical/intellectual activity. Depending on these, you may need to add a source of carbohydrates. Their consumption is at your discretion.


A source of carbohydrates includes all that contains a good amount of sugars:

  • Cereals: wheat (pasta, bulgur, semolina, bread, breakfast cereals, cookies,…), rye, oats, barley, buckwheat, millet, rice,…

  • Fruits

  • Seeds: quinoa

  • Tubers: potato, sweet potato, cassava, yam, carrot,…

  • Squash: butternut, pumpkin,…

Note: some protein sources may already contain carbohydrates such as milk, legumes, oilseeds,… which can replace or add to your carbohydrate source.

Also note that all industrial sweet products are included to this category.



How much to eat for a balanced meal?

To perfectly balance a meal, it is also important to put the right amounts of food on your plate.


Here is a dietitian’s technique to know very easily how much to eat. This technique allows you to balance a meal easily. It is very efficient! Your reference: your hands.


We don’t all have the same hands… And that’s the point! A person with large hands will naturally have higher caloric requirements than a person with small hands. Here is how it works (apply at lunch and dinner):


  • For the quantity of vegetables (with or without fruits), eat as much as your two joined hands (forming a bowl) can contain.


  • For the amount of protein, eat as much as the area and thickness of the palm of your hand.


  • For the amount of fat, eat as much as the area and thickness of the circle formed by your thumb and index fingers together.


  • For the amount of carbohydrates, eat as much as the volume (area and thickness) of your closed fist.



That’s it! Easy, isn’t it? Now you have all the keys in your hands to balance a meal and start a food balancing process, which will allow you to boost your health and regain your ideal weight.

 

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