I talk about balance with clients a lot. I’m sure you’ve heard mention that eating a “balanced diet” is a good thing, but do you know what eating balanced really looks like? Keep reading to learn how to incorporate balance in your eating to better nourish and feel good in your body.
What is Balanced Eating?
Balance in eating can go a long way in providing our body the fuel, nutrients, and nourishment we need to promote health and have the energy we need to do life. When I talk about balanced eating what I mean is…
Balance = Carbs + Protein + Fat
We have a tendency to want to make one or another part of this equation the hero or villain, but it’s actually all of these components working together that provides the most benefit, pleasure, and satisfaction. Eating whole foods (most of the time, not always!) with a balance of nutrients has many health benefits including helping us feel fuller and more satisfied longer, as well as helping to better control blood sugars, appetite, and cravings.
When we don’t eat balanced, say we grab a pack of crackers or a candy or protein bar here or a bag of chips there, those foods don’t last long and leave us feeling hungry not too much later. It is when we combine foods to create balance that we can get the most out of our food and not be left constantly wanting more.
The Impact of Balance
Balance is also important to help us give us the energy and fuel we need to move our bodies and increase performance during sports activities. I’ll use the example of a tennis friend. For breakfast before we play, she eats a regular pre-match breakfast of a boiled egg. Usually about a set in she is feeling hungry and in need of something to boost her energy.
We got to talking about it and I told her I was going to prescribe her a few good balanced breakfasts that would give her the energy she needs to make it through the match without crashing. She is already getting some good quality protein in her egg, but if she combined it with some complex carbohydrates and beneficial fats, eg. some oatmeal with blueberries (both complex carbs) and a few walnuts (beneficial fats and fiber), that would be a better balanced breakfast and would likely give her the energy she needs.
I’ve seen it time and time again with clients I work with. When they begin to understand the importance of eating in a more balanced way they are pleasantly surprised at the impact that it has.
Lately I have been really going back to basics with people I meet with and trying to emphasize this concept of balance. It may seem simple or elementary, but many of our plates look nothing like this. There are many reasons for this. For some of us it is because diet culture has convinced us that one or another part of this plate is “bad” and for some we are just not aware that eating in this way can be so beneficial.
It doesn’t mean that every time we eat it has to be colorful or have all these components, but the more you can incorporate balance, you will begin to feel the difference in your satisfaction level and the impact it has on your overall eating.
As you plan meals, try to take into consideration the different components of a satisfying and balanced meal – some carbs, some protein and fat, and maybe a fruit and/or vegetable. Here are some examples to give you some food for thought ;0
Bringing Balance to Snacks
As you begin to incorporate balance into meals you may also want to bring balance into your snacking too. Snacks can be an important piece of nourishing our bodies. Making them more balanced can provide more satisfaction and sustained energy. Instead of just an apple or banana (both complex carbs), combine either with a tablespoon or two of peanut butter (protein and healthy fats). Instead of just a handful of baby carrots or a handful of Triscuits (complex carb), combine them with some cottage cheese or yogurt (protein). Here are some other examples…
Think… Carb + protein = a satisfying snack.
Eating in a balanced way doesn’t have to be perfect or super complicated. You can start by becoming aware of what you are eating now and try to add balance to it. We can’t make chance without first become more aware. What do your meals and snacks look like? Are they balanced? If not, what are they most often missing? Do you include fruits and vegetables often throughout the day? What is one small way you could change your plate to incorporate better balance? You’ll be amazed at the impact this simple, but often missed, way of eating can change the way you feel.