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We all know a balanced meal is important but just what is meant by "balanced?"
Balanced meals include a mix of healthy carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables, lean protein and/or healthy fats with each meal and snack.
Sweets are okay too! Just choose them in moderation.
If you are eating healthy foods 80% or more of the time then you have room for to eat less healthy 20% or less of the time. Another easy rule of thumb is to keep sweet treats to 150-200 calories.
Breaking Down Healthy Meal Components
Healthy Carbs: fruits, vegetables, peas, corn, beans, potatoes, sweet potatoes, whole wheat bread, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, high fiber cereal, oatmeal, non-fat milk/yogurt
Lean Protein: chicken breast, turkey breast, pork tenderloin, lean ground beef, fish/shellfish, beans, tofu, soy burgers, eggs, low-fat cottage cheese, non-fat milk/yogurt, low-fat cheese.
Healthy Fats: nuts/nut butters, olives, olive or canola oil, avocado, light vinaigrette, flaxseed, fatty fish, seeds.
Picture your Plate
An easy way to balance your plate is to picture a picnic plate. Fill half of your plate with fruits and/or vegetables, 1/4 with lean protein and 1/4 with whole grains. Now, add a touch of healthy fat and your plate is balanced and ready to enjoy!
Below are some examples of how to balance your plate... or bowl.
Whole grain cereal
Turkey sandwich on whole wheat with avocado, mustard, lettuce & tomato
Low-fat string cheese
Low-fat vanilla frozen yogurt topped with raspberries