What is a balanced meal? Maybe you have experimented with some kind of ratio of protein, carbs, fats, and calories. Or, maybe you look at your plate and divide it up with some ratio of meat, grains, and vegetables. There seems to be a lot of theories on the proper way to balance a meal and to portion your plate, but you might be missing the most important point
Back when I was 40 pounds overweight, I thought that a balanced meal was a 1/4 of a plate of meat, 1/4 of a plate with grains, and 1/2 a plate with vegetables. And I used to get confused when I would read information about how many grams of food I would need to consume for diets because, well.....I couldn't do any of that naturally without measuring or weighing my food all the time. It didn't feel intuitive.
So there seems to be a lot of theories that only complicate balancing a meal and make it harder to eat intuitively. Here is the #1 aim when you're picking foods to put on your plate:
The aim is to balance your BODY. Not your plate.
[Tweet "Choose foods that balance your BODY. Not your plate."]
Eating for health means eating foods that your body needs to restore it's inner balance. So here's how you can do that:
1) Identify what your body needs - not your plate
You can do this by figuring out what discomforts you're facing and what you would need to counter balance that. Are you constipated? Do you have digestive discomforts? Do you have any chronic issues such as fatigue, headaches, sleep trouble, etc?
If you're constipated, most people recommend eating more fiber. But I actually recommend avoiding foods temporarily that take a longer time to digest, like animal proteins.
If your body feels cold, then you want to eat foods that are warm. So instead of eating raw salads in an effort to lose weight, focus on eating cooked foods that will warm and put less stress on your body.
2) Once your digestive system is balanced, eat what you crave
When your body's digestive system is working properly, then you are more likely to have honest cravings. By "honest", I mean that your cravings are not because your body chemistry is outta whack, but because your body actually needs them for nutrition.
[Tweet "There are 3 kinds of cravings: nutritional, chemical, and emotional."]
Having a balanced meal could just mean eating what you crave to provide your body with what it needs to balance it's nutritional needs.
So, let me give you a few examples, here:
Scenario 1) Emily feels constipated.
She usually has eggs for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, and pasta with chicken for dinner. She only goes to the bathroom every two days or so, and when she does, it's pretty painful. Her stool seems pretty dry and it comes out in thick chunks instead of effortlessly.
Emily could balance out her body's constitution by having more whole grains to help with digestion. She could also have less animal products which take a longer time to digest and contribute to poor transit time. She can do this temporarily until she has regular bowel movements, then start adding back in other foods since her system is stronger.
Balanced meals for her daily menu could look like oatmeal (whole grains), pasta made out of corn instead of wheat, with vegetables and a side of soup, and brown rice with bean curry for dinner. This kind of meal is more hydrating, has more variety, warms up the body, has low stress on the digestive system, and is healing to the inner body function.
Scenario 2) Jessica has cold hands and cold feed. She also tends to need a sweater wherever she goes even though her friends always seem fine.
Jessica's typical day of meals consists of fruit with yogurt for breakfast, a big salad for lunch, and tomato pasta for dinner.
In Jessica's case, she should eat foods that warm up the body. Raw foods such as fruits and salads are cooling to the body (this is based on food energetics, which you can learn in FOODBOSS™). Even though these foods are nutritionally dense, they are not helping Jessica keep her body warm which is really important for health, circulation, and digestion.
Balanced meals for her could look like having a warm breakfast like oatmeal, adding in a warm soup during lunch, and having dinner that contains warming spices such as ginger.
Scenario 3) Tanya went out to a BBQ party and feels like she ate too much.
Since Tanya had heavier foods at a BBQ, she can balance out her digestive system by having something lighter in the morning such as fruit or a green smoothie to cleanse. These are less taxing on digestion while her body is finishing digesting all of the foods she had the night before. For Tanya, balanced meals would mean eating lighter until her digestion is restored.
How have you been balancing your meals? How are you going to balance them differently, moving forwards? Leave a comment!