What Does a Balanced Meal Look Like?

What Does a Balanced Meal Look Like?

Aiming to eat balanced meals is one of the keys to good nutrition and truly feeling full and satisfied after eating. But what does a “balanced meal” look like? Read this post to find out how to build a balanced meal from a Registered Dietitian!

A balanced meal usually consists of a serving of carbohydrates like grains or starches, a protein, some fat, and one or more servings of vegetables and fruit.

½  of Your Plate Should Be Fruits/Veggies. Not only does adding fruit and veggies to your plate give it a burst of color, but a bunch of fiber, nutrients, volume, and phytochemicals as well! Remember to “eat the rainbow” and include as much variety as possible. Did you know each color provides various health benefits and no one color is superior to another, which is why a balance of all colors is most important?

¼ of Your Plate Should Be Carbohydrates. Opt for complex carbs such as starchy vegetables, whole wheat bread, barley, quinoa, oats, brown rice, or whole wheat pasta rather than refined grains such as white rice or white bread. Complex carbs have more fiber and will help stabilize your blood sugar and energy levels.

¼ of Your Plate Should Be Lean Protein. Animal-based protein includes lean meat, chicken, turkey, eggs, and fish. Plant-based proteins such as beans, lentils, edamame, tofu, nuts, seeds, and nut butters are also great options and they provide the added benefit of fiber, so be sure to give these a try as well!

Use Healthy Fats in Moderation. Healthy fats include avocado, nuts, seeds, nut butters, dark chocolate, eggs, and vegetable oils. Opt for vegetable oils such as olive, canola, corn, sunflower and peanut and avoid partially hydrogenated oils, which contain unhealthy trans fats.

Learning how to build a balanced meal will help you to add more variety to your diet and include lots of nourishing food. Remember that eating well isn’t about being perfect. It’s about what you do most of the time, not all of the time. There is plenty of room for fun foods in addition to taking care of your body.

Maryann Walsh, MFN, RD, CDE
Registered Dietitian/ Consultant