Why Is Balance Important?

Food is complex. There are numerous bioactive compounds in food that have physiological effects in our bodies. Creating a balanced plate helps to ensure that we get a mix of healthful nutrients without an excess of any one nutrient. Using the concept of balance allows us to translate complex nutritional science into a simple food message. Balance means: fill half your plate with colorful vegetables and/or fruit, one quarter with high-fiber carbohydrate-rich foods and one quarter with health-promoting protein-rich foods.

When your plate lacks colorful vegetables and fruit, your plate becomes heavy in carbohydrates, protein, fat and calories and light in fiber and antioxidants. This leaves us feeling unsatisfied and susceptible to overeating. Plus, you are missing out on beneficial, positive nutrition. Most of my clients are motivated by the impact that eating more vegetables has on weight loss. There are few weight loss strategies that encourage eating more and this is one of them. When you increase non-starchy vegetables and decrease the amount of carbohydrate- and protein-rich foods on your plate, you will decrease calories but increase the volume of food that you eat. Check it out:

Here’s a stir-fry made with brown rice, chicken, broccoli, bell pepper, carrot, onion, garlic, ginger powder, and pineapple.

Here are all the veggies that went into the stir-fry.

Here is my plate with baked sweet potatoes, roasted broccoli and cauliflower, grilled salmon (grilled in a foil packet with garlic, lemon juice and olive oil-delicious and SO easy!), with an arugula salad. Tons of food here.

A balanced plate is also great for kids. It exposes them to multiple foods, which promtoes acceptance to a wider variety of foods. Plus, you are able to introduce multiple foods at each meal, so that if your child doesn’t care for broccoli, they’ve got other options on the plate that they do like…and this keeps you from becoming a short-order cook.

Here’s breakfast with scrambled eggs, black beans, avocado, orange segments and blueberries. If your child doesn’t feel like eating one of those options, it’s okay, there’s probably something on the plate to satisfy them.

Here’s a pasta dish with, again lots of veggies to off-set the carbs and protein from pasta and chicken. Pasta and stir-fry dishes tend to be high in carbohydrates and low in protein and fiber. This leaves most people susceptible to overeating, since fiber and protein have a significant impact on the sensation of fullness and feelings of satiety. Decrease the pasta, increase chicken and veggies and viola, a better balanced plate that leaves you feeling more satisfied with fewer calories.

It’s All About Timing

You know that you are eating balanced meals and snacks when you feel physically hungry every 3-5 hours. For most people, that means eating breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus one snack. This snack is often in the afternoon between lunch and dinner. Some people will do better eating three meals only and others prefer eating 6 times a day. There’s no perfect pattern but, when you are hungry more often than every 3 hours, you are likely not eating enough and/or not eating balanced meals. You may also be confusing physical hunger with thirst, fatigue or emotions. When you aren’t hungry and it’s been more than 5 hours, then you probably ate too much overall or your previous meal was unbalanced with too much fat or protein.

Want more ideas? Watch my KVOA segment from last week by clicking here. I show three delicious snacks and talk about balanced dinners.

Material on this blog is provided for informational purposes only. It is general information that may not apply to you as an individual, and is not a substitute for personalized nutrition or health advice or healthcare. Never disregard medical advice or delay seeking medical care because of something you have read or accessed through this website.

 

One thought on “Why Is Balance Important?

  1. A friend asked for the recipe for the stir-fry above. I didn’t write up a recipe, but here’s the basic formula:
    1-2 cups any veggies, 1/2 cup cooked brown rice, 1/2 cup diced chicken and 1 can cubed pineapple sauteed with canola oil; seasoned up with soy sauce and ginger powder…That would make about 1 serving.

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