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4 steps to a balanced meal

There are 4 basic steps to any balanced meal, whether you are on a tight budget or not. How will knowing these 4 steps help you?

4 steps to a balanced meal 1
This is what should be in a balanced meal

You want to lose weight except all you know about dieting is that it is expensive. You don’t have time to go to the dietician or nutritionist. You are not on a medical aid so a dietician or nutritionist is not possible.

Banting and Paleo are not options if you are like me and enjoy your carbs and sugar in your tea.

Your new year’s resolution was to get healthier and eat better.

I am not a dietician or a nutritionist. I am an old fashioned nurse who has kept up with the trends in food and health.

My family is made of different people with different needs. I feed between 6-8 people every meal. We are made up of pre diabetic, some wanting to lose weight and get healthy (only 2 go to gym and I am not one of them), one wants bulk up, 2 who don’t eat a lot by way of fruit and veg but 1 will eat fish and meat and the other will only eat certain meats and then I have 1 who is a vegetarian and lactose intolerant.

With just the basic knowledge of what a balanced meal is composed of, anyone should be able to improve their eating habits. While a dietician or a nutritionist is able to create an in depth eating plan for you, you have the ability to change your own health.

Food pyramid
Daily food choices for balance meals. Servings are per day not per meal

Obesity worldwide is on the rise and is creating a scenario where our children’s life expectancy is shorter than our own. That is why a healthy balanced meal is vital and it can be done on a budget.

Step 1

Fat is allowed in a diet; however, it should be the smallest part of your meal and should consist of a healthy fat.

If you use oil to cook only use good quality oils not blended and only use about tablespoon for cooking, obviously depending on how many you are cooking for. Another change you could make is using avocado instead of butter on your bread.

I know that avocados are costly but so is butter and spread thinly you would only need a little. Choosing margarine over butter should really only be a choice if you are lactose intolerant. Even then you should look carefully as some margarines contain dairy and are also not suitable for cooking or baking.

Salad should also not be dressed before serving as we all tend to over dress them, rather serve individually and pour a tablespoon over each serving.

Nuts and peanut butter are also good healthy fats to use in meals.

Step 2

Your protein in your meal should be roughly the size of your palm, it should preferably be a lean protein such as egg, fish or low fat cheese or chicken breast.

Red meat should only be once a week. If you are eating chicken it is best to remove the skin. You can cook the chicken with the skin on and then remove it before serving. Season your chicken under the skin if this is what you will be doing.

Step 3

To simplify let’s say that there is healthy carbohydrate and unhealthy carbohydrate. A healthy carbohydrate is one which is easily digestible and therefor e your body is able to make use of the energy from the food immediately.

White bread, white rice, a normal potato and sugar are a few examples of unhealthy carbohydrates.

On the other hand brown rice and couscous, sweet potatoes and baby potatoes as well as Durham wheat pastas are example of healthy carbohydrates.

Step 4

Half your plate should be filled with colour which you get from varying your vegetables or fruit. Peas, carrots and cauliflower give you colour. The colour however, can come in the form of your salad or fruits.

Remember when planning you meal, sweet potatoes, corn and baby potatoes are both a vegetable and a starch/carbohydrate, this means you should have less of these and more of the broccoli and gem squash.

Food should look enticing and colourful, try and avoid foods that have the same basic colour on a plate.

This mince pie is filled with bright colours making it more enticing to eat

There is also nothing wrong with using frozen vegetables as opposed to fresh vegetables.  If you do want fresh choose quality, in season fruit and vegetables. Buy smaller amounts rather than large quantities of cheaper vegetables that you will soon get fed up eating.

We eat first with our eyes, then our sense of smell and only lastly the taste. So if you food looks and smells good, chances are it will taste good too.

While the food was delicious and smelled fantastic, it had no colour

Another way to trick ourselves into eating smaller portions is by serving on smaller plates. A large dinner plate with food in the correct portion size is not going to satisfy you visually as much as a smaller plate filled with the same amount of food.

Carb Heavy
This plate of food is not only nearly monochromatic, it is also pure starch, not a single veg in site

What kind of eating habits do you have?


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