What is a Well-Balanced Meal?

bowl-of-muesli-for-breakfastThis article is written by Alex Chris.

You may be confronted daily with several nutritional terms, but have you ever wondered what exactly the dietitians mean when they talk about completeness and balance?

If we could give a definition, we would say that a complete and balanced meal is the one that meets your needs in energy, nutrients, satisfy your taste and of course make you feel full!

To achieve the above combination every meal should contain many different foods from the different food groups, such as starch (bread, potatoes, and rice), meat or alternative protein sources (egg, cheese), fruit and vegetables, dairy or an alternative dairy source, and of course some source of fiber.

In other words, you can bring balance to your daily diet when you replace the words “forbidden” or “should have” with “variety” at every meal (from breakfast to snacks and dinner), in terms of taste, nutritional value and calories.

Why fiber?

Dietary fibers are carbohydrates that are not digested, and have an important place in our plate, as they are associated with multiple health benefits. A balanced diet, rich in fiber, promotes the better functioning of our gastrointestinal system, helps the levels of bad LDL cholesterol to be reduced and to better control the level of sugar in the blood.

It is proven that this kind of diet helps in better control of our appetite, as the fibers have the ability to create early satiety and fullness, so that we can control more effectively our body weight.

That is why the dietary recommendations around the world report that we should consume at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily and that 50% of cereals / starches we consume should be of whole grain or unprocessed.

Wholemeal products like cereals and other products in their raw form (like oatmeal, muesli) are a clever way to add fiber to your diet. A way that is consistent with the model of a balanced diet, as carbohydrates form the basis of the Mediterranean pyramid.

In fact, foods that are rich in fiber such as cereals and whole grain pasta, fruits, vegetables, oatmeal, brown rice and legumes usually have less fat content.

The balanced meal

A little bit of imagination is enough to convert your dish to a perfect and balanced meal. Do not forget that you should combine a variety of nutrients and a variety of foods from different groups.

So fill half your plate with colorful vegetables, ¼ with a source of protein (meat, fish, poultry, cheese, eggs) and the remaining ¼ with some source of starch / grain (bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, oatmeal, corn).

Editor’s Note:  If you eat a plant-based diet, you can get your source of protein from plant-based sources.

Be sure to choose whole grains such as brown bread, brown rice or whole wheat spaghetti, as it is rich in nutrients and also contain fiber that will make you fill full.

Salad as a main course!

Salads are an ideal side dish to your meal. But do you know that some small additions and changes can make them complete and balanced meals that will replace the main dish, giving you a lot of nutrients at the same time?

A plain lettuce salad contains a few carbohydrates and no protein. You can enrich it with brown rice, beans, corn or nut and choose as a source of protein tuna, chicken or soy kebabs, turning it into a hearty meal.

Also, a simple tomato salad can completely be changed with some “smart” tricks. The oatmeal would be a healthy choice that apart from energy and fiber will provide you with manganese, a component that helps maintain the bones in good condition and helps the normal functioning of metabolic processes.

You can also add a piece of cheese or a boiled egg and you will have a nutritious and complete meal!

Time for Snacking?

Snacks may be characterized by their small size, but they can be balanced, too. Make sure to choose snacks that are low in calories and have high nutritional value.

A skimmed yogurt with 1-2 tbsp of whole grains, oats or muesli and a fresh fruit definitely will keep you full until the lunch time.

In case you want something sweet in your yogurt, add a little honey or some jam with fructose, choose a chocolate with sweeteners, a small handful of unsalted nuts, or even a pudding with some fruit.

Also, if you are in the office you can combine rice or corn wafers with a piece of cheese that will please you and eliminate your desire for sweet, because of their content in fiber.

Conclusion

Remember, every meal is a special occasion in the day for us to bring our diet into balance! Just keep in mind the different food options that will ensure the variety in taste and nutritional value!

About the Author

Alex is a nutrition and fitness blogger since 2006 and editor at NutritionStyle.net, a blog about nutrition and healthy living. You can also connect with Alex on Facebook and Google+

Image courtesy of Marcus / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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About the Author

Alex is a nutrition and fitness blogger since 2006 and editor at NutritionStyle.net, a blog about nutrition and healthy living. You can also connect with Alex on Facebook and Google+

10 Enlightened Replies

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  1. jee says:

    Informative article. I always make sure that i have a balanced meal. It is essential!

  2. One of my favorite balances meals = butternut squash, eggs and cinnamon/stevia – Carbohydrates, healthy fat (from the yolks) and lots of protein! 😀

    I also adore salmon and spaghetti squash! Nice and balanced!

  3. Hi Evelyn,
    Good to be here again,
    Thanks for this Guest post,
    Great info. here. i like the salad part lol
    Keep inform.
    Best Regards
    Phil

  4. Trinity says:

    Would you please clarify “cereals and their products in their raw form (like oatmeal, muesli)”? Does that mean that these cereals should be eaten raw to benefit the body?

    • Alex Chris says:

      Trinity Hi, No actually it should read “Wholemeal products like cereals and other products ” and not “their products…”.

      Hope this helps
      Alex

      • Aqiyl Henry says:

        All oatmeal is processed in some way, but steel cut are the least processed. I am not a supporter of eating a lot of complex carbs and feel simple carbs from fruits are much better for the body. I minimize my complex carb intake. A balanced meal doesn’t have to include meat for protein, and protein can be gotten form nuts, legumes, seeds, and grains, though I also minimize the amount of grains I eat.

      • Aqiyl Henry says:

        Evelyn, please correct my typos. 🙁

      • Hey Aqiyl,

        Thanks for chiming in. I included an editor’s note about protein for those who eat a plant-based diet.

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