Let’s take a quick mental snapshot of each of the meals you ate yesterday. What did each plate consist of? How did that correlate to the energy you carried throughout the day? How does that energy show up today, the day after your meals?
Just by arranging our daily meals with some of the foods we eat, we can begin to create a sense of balance within our physical body, and even our mental clarity!
Here are ways that you can begin to balance your plate, and it doesn’t have to be difficult!
Start with half to two-thirds of a plate of vegetables. This can be a green, leafy salad, or some of your favorite roasted ones, or something as simple as steamed broccoli or raw carrots. Aiming for a serving of vegetables at every meal provides us with a variety of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) that are bodies crave and need! Often times when we eat more processed foods, we are unable to consume adequate micronutrients from them. Vegetables also provide plenty of fiber to help keep us full, and our digestive tracts moving regularly. Aim for at least 6-8 different vegetables throughout the whole week!
Next up, lean protein! Aim for at least 1 palm size of protein for women, and 1.5-2, for men, at each meal. Lean protein provides us with the nutrients to shape our body’s overall build, repair muscle tissue, and support hormone and immune functions. Protein to save the day! Along with fiber, protein also helps keep us full as well, because the digestive tract takes some time to digest and absorb the protein nutrients. Therefore, having an adequate serving of protein at each meal will help keep us satiated for a few hours before it’s time to re-fuel.
Contrary to old beliefs–fats do not make you fat! Healthy fats are necessary for our daily diet, as they become essential fatty acids that are primarily responsible for providing us with sustained energy, and allow other nutrients to carry out their own jobs (such as protein, and even some other vitamins and minerals that are “fat soluble”). Not only that, but our brain and central nervous system highly rely on the use of these essential fats to function well! Avocados, olive oil and coconut oil, grass-fed butter, nuts and seeds like chia or flaxseeds are all great sources of healthy fats that can help us thrive in our daily grind.
Did you miss last week’s blog on “Should I Cut My Carbs?” Let’s get to the core with carbohydrates: you need carbohydrates. Vegetables are made up of carbohydrates, and that was the first item on your revised plate! And yes, so are Pop Tarts. However, there’s a clear distinction when it comes to which will create the most “balance” for our bodies, and minds. Ever have that 2 PM slump, brain fogginess or “food coma”? That could be a clue that you might’ve eaten a dense carbohydrate meal, or one with a handful of sugar. To keep our hunger balanced, and also our brains cognitively focused, it’s important to eat smart carbohydrate sources for energy. Vegetables, grains, and other starches such as rice or potatoes, are all great ways to fuel up with carbohydrates; fruit can also be a nice treat, but some can pack a lot of natural sugar too. Carbohydrates are broken down to glucose, and when consumed in excess, get stored away as fat in our bodies! Moderation is key, and knowing that a good time to have starchy carbohydrates should be around the most active times of your day, when you need the most energy!
Seems like a lot to swallow, but it’s really quite simple! Lean protein, veggies, healthy fats at each meal, and smart carbohydrates around your most active times of the day (this might be before or after a workout, or when you’re most active throughout your work day). If you are someone who is interested in learning more about how to balance your plate, be sure to schedule a FREE nutrition consultation with our in-house nutrition coach!