Eating a balanced diet is your ticket to feeling good, looking good, and preventing the onset of a chronic dis-ease. Eating a balanced diet consists of eating the right portions while eating a variety of healthy foods that fuel the body to heal itself and perform. There are exceptions to this such as celery and cucumber which I will go over in this post.
I am going to give you the guideline to eating a balanced diet, and I’m not talking about lean cuisine microwavable meals, or brown rice as your only carbohydrate. I’m talking about foods that fuel the body, keep you healthy, and yes, that you can enjoy.
This is going to be a series that takes you from the basics of eating a balanced diet down to how to calculate your own macros and understand what foods work for your body.
First, let’s go over all the food groups. It’s important that you understand what foods are in which food groups. It will help you decide when you should and should not eat certain foods. It will also help you effectively pair foods together without causing an imbalance in the gut.
The goal here is to eat the right quantity and quality of food so that your gut can give you the energy you need without compromising the pace of your immune system. The more you overeat, the harder your gut has to work to digest food which compromises the function of your immune system. We want them both to work in sync with each other.
There are six food groups. They are bread, fruit, vegetable, meat, dairy, and fats.
The bread group includes rice, potatoes, pasta, noodles, cereals, grains, and of course, bread. The bread group is your source of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates contain sugars, starches, and fibers. Contrary to what trending diets believe, carbohydrates are macronutrients and are very important to the body as they are one of its main sources of energy.
Everyone’s goal for carbohydrates will be different which means that the way they consume it will be different as well. If one is working to get lean, they may carb cycle, which means they eat 150 carbs on one day and only 80 on the next, for example. If one is trying to gain mass, they may eat a higher number of carbohydrates daily.
The next food group is fruit. Fruit contains many vitamins, minerals, and fiber. It is a good idea to consume them in moderation or as a snack. This is because they are also carbohydrates. Fruits are considered healthy carbohydrates because of their nutrient content. However, if you are on a low-carb diet or diabetic, it is important to keep track of how many you are eating to maintain your progress and overall health.
Vegetables also provide lots of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. In most cases, they don’t need to be consumed in moderation and can be included in every meal and snack. They can be eaten raw, cooked, or dehydrated. Vegetables are separated based on the nutrients they provide.
The five subgroups of vegetables are dark green vegetables, starchy vegetables, red and orange vegetables, beans, and peas. Studies show that individuals who eat more vegetables than fruit have a lower risk of developing a chronic disease. This is because vegetables have little fat and calories. They provide dietary fiber which reduces the risk of developing heart disease while enhancing gut and colon health.
The meat group includes red and white meat, fish, eggs, nuts, legumes, and tofu. Red meat sources include beef and lamb. White meat sources include pork, chicken, and turkey. These are your protein sources. Individuals who practice a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle tend to use nuts, legumes, and tofu as a meat replacement.
The dairy food group includes milk, butter, whey, yogurt, and cheese. While I don’t recommend eating dairy, I do believe that if it is consumed, it should be consumed in moderation. Dairy products are touted to be a major source of calcium, vitamin D, vitamin A, protein, and vitamin B12. While they may contain these nutrients, they are also a contributing factor in heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, type 2 diabetes, and prostate, breast, and ovarian cancers because of their high saturated fat content.
The fat food group includes oils, butter, nuts, fish, avocados, meat, and even some dairy products. Fat is another macronutrient and is used by the body as fuel. They provide energy storage for the body which is the opposite of carbohydrates. They provide energy that releases throughout the day. Fats should be eaten in moderation as well.
Now that we understand the different food groups we can get into eating a balanced diet.
Now Let’s Get Into The 7 Rule For Making Eating A Balanced Diet Easy
One One One Rule
The One One One diet is a simple way to eat a balanced diet. With this diet, you eat one serving of carbohydrates, one serving of protein, and one serving of fat. This gives the body all the nutrients it needs while helping you maintain a balance that will keep you healthy and managing your weight. Remember, the goal here is to give the body the fuel it needs without compromising the gut and immune health. This diet accomplishes that. It also avoids overeating.
Think about a burrito. It’s one of America’s favorite foods. But it is ineffectively portioned. It has beans and chicken which are two sources of protein. Let’s not forget about the rice, tortilla, and corn. That’s three sources of carbohydrates. And last, the sour cream, guacamole, and cheese. That’s three servings of fats. This may not seem like a big deal if you only eat burritos every now and then. But those who eat them regularly probably still have another meal or two throughout the rest of the day.
Cut The Processed foods
Processed foods not only give your body empty calories or foods that have no nutritional value, they add unnatural fats, salts, and sugars. Aim for raw vegetables that you can prepare yourself. IF you buy canned vegetables, read the label to ensure there is no added salt. The same goes for fruit as many canned fruits are packaged in syrups and have added sugar. Make sure that the fruits are in their own juice or water.
Do your best to prepare your own food and if you can’t, use a healthy meal prep service. Avoid fast-food restaurants at all costs. Even the salads at McDonald’s have added salts. It is your responsibility to know what you are eating. But I am going to make it easier for you with this trick….. if there is something on the nutrition label that you can’t pronounce or that has 14 letters, avoid it.
Here are some examples of foods that have empty calories:
- processed meat
- energy drinks
- fruit juice with added sugar
- junk food of all types no matter how healthy they claim to be, they still are and will always be JUNK FOOD
- ice cream
Control Your Portions
Eating the right foods at the wrong portion can undo your progress with weight management and getting healthy. Use a scale to measure meat. Use a measuring cup to measure carbohydrates and vegetables. This will help you avoid overeating. If you don’t have these things, use the hand method. The size of your protein portion should be the size of the palm of your hand. Your carbohydrate portion should be the measurement of your cupped hand. Your thumb should be the measurement of your fats.
Extra Vegetables Please
When in doubt, fill half of your plate with vegetables. I had a client once who figured out she enjoyed how protein and vegetable meals made her feel. She had more energy and didn’t get sleepy after her meals. If you want to fill your plate up with anything and weight loss and energy are a major concern, go with the vegetables every time.
Fats To Consume
Fats get a bad rep because people think that eating more fats is going to make them…..well you know….fat. But that is so far from the truth. In fact, eating the right fats in the right portions will not only help you digest your food better but give you energy and support cell growth and regeneration. They also aid in helping the body absorb nutrients from food and helping produce hormones.
Here are some fats that you should eat regularly:
- dark chocolate
- nuts such as walnuts, almonds, and macadamia nuts
- fatty fish such as trout, salmon, mackerel, and sardines
- chia seeds
- olive oil
Fats that should be eaten in moderation or avoided in my opinion tend to be solid at room temperature. Here are some fats to eat in moderation:
- heavy cream
- coconut oil
- beef (beef fat solidifies at room temperature)
- palm oils
- hydrogenated oils
Here are fats that should be avoided as much as possible:
- trans fats such as pizza, microwavable popcorn, baked goods, fried foods, and non-dairy coffee creamer, and donuts
Try the 80/20 Rule
The 80/20 rule is for those of us who are having a hard time balancing eating healthy foods more than unhealthy foods. The 80/20 rule is a simple approach to eating as well. 80 percent of the time eat healthily. When you eat healthy 80 percent of the time, you get a 20 percent allowance.
Let’s say you eat 3 meals per day. That’s 21 meals per week. If you multiply 21 by 20 percent you will get 4.2. That means that out of the 21 meals you have during the week, 4 of them can be foods that are outside of your healthy diet.
Before you go ordering that extra-large pizza, I’d like to clarify something.
You still need to follow portions. If you order a pizza, that doesn’t mean pig out on it and eat 7 slices. It means you can eat two possibly three slices. You should still work not to overeat or eat over your allotted calories. Portion control can be one of the biggest challenges when it comes down to eating healthy. This is a great start.
The 80/20 rule is very helpful in eating a more balanced diet because it lowers the chances of binge eating. It lets you enjoy your favorite foods while still keeping you on a positive track of practicing a healthy lifestyle.
Time Your Meals
It is important to give your body at least 3 hours between meals because your body can only absorb a certain amount of nutrients at that time. It is also important to time your meals to ensure that you are eating enough. Not eating enough each day can be as big of an issue as eating too much. Apps such as Itrackbites and my fitness pal allow you to set timers for your meals each day.
So let’s recap
- The six food groups are bread, fruit, vegetable, meat, dairy, and fats.
- You should eat everything in moderation. The only exception is vegetables.
- The easiest way to eat a balanced diet is the one one one diet which means that you eat one serving of each of the three macronutrients: carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. This will also help you control your portion sizes.
- Cut the processed foods. They have empty calories that provide no nutritional value and cause weight gain.
- Be mindful of the fats that you eat. Eat healthy fats. Limit how much you eat fats that become solid at room temperature. Avoid transfats.
- Practice the 80/20 rule and time your meals for success. Your body will thank you later.
- Watch your portions. Undereating is just as bad as overeating.
- Time your meals so that your body is able to absorb as many nutrients from the foods you eat as possible.
This is a positive start to eating a balanced diet. For information on how to use foods to heal the body inside out, check out my new book Fight Back With Food: 40 Recipes That Will Help You Fight For Life.
This work includes 40 recipes catered to bone, brain, gut, and immune health. It also includes a mineral dictionary that lists the minerals contained in the book and their benefits, as well as their food sources so that you can replace the foods that you don’t like with foods that you enjoy.
This book really reflects my dedication to helping and encouraging everyone to healthier living.
That’s it for this post. Don’t forget to enter your email below to subscribe to the Transitional Fitness Coach Blog for new recipe ideas and fitness advice.
And remember, Don’t Play With Your Body. You Only Get One!