The Only "Meal Plan" You Really Need
The internet is lousy with influencers, “nutritionists”, and fitness “experts” offering meal plans. They promise quick weight loss, improved digestion, more energy, better sleep, and feeling better than ever.
These are certainly intriguing promises. They lure you in and make you think, "Maybe this meal plan is 'the one'!"
The problem? Almost without fail, these meal plans are:
Focused on quick-fixes
Not considerate of individual differences
Here’s the truth: Our bodies don’t need us to follow meal plans that consist of a small number of foods and a handful of recipes in order to be healthy.
Trying to achieve health through a restrictive meal plan makes it impossible to sustain any sense of a social life, healthy relationship with food, or mental satisfaction with eating.
There IS another way to go.
Healthy eating is less complicated than these influencers will have you believe. It just takes a basic understanding of how to prepare balanced meals.
The best part about this approach is that you can apply it literally anywhere. It is compatible with all food preferences, dietary restrictions, allergies, cultures, social gatherings, road trips, vacations, dinner parties, and just life.
So without further ado…
4 Steps to Building Balanced Meals
1. Fill ½ of your plate with vegetables and fruits
Whether it’s fresh, frozen, canned, roasted, sautéed, stir-fried, grilled, or raw, aim for half your meal to come from vegetables and fruits. They provide the most micronutrient bang for your buck plus fibre to boost! Ideally, you want to get a variety of colour in throughout the day or week, but work with what’s in season and what you happened to have on hand.
2. Fill ¼ of your plate with protein
Aim to have quarter of your meal be in the form of protein, whether plant- or animal-based. Protein is vital for organs, muscles, skins, and hormone health, and your body depends on protein to maintain and repair tissue.
3. Fill ¼ of your plate with whole grains
Whole grains, as their namesake suggests, have the entire grain intact and are therefore more nutritious than the refined counterpart. These can make a meal more satisfying and provide fibre and B-vitamins, so aim to fill quarter of your plate with whole grains.
4. Incorporate healthy fats
There are many simple ways to utilize healthy fats into your meal, like cooking with olive oil, topping with nuts and seeds, adding avocado, or just choosing a protein that already has healthy fat, like salmon or tuna.
There you have it! This plate method is easy to remember and flexible enough that you can implement it absolutely anywhere, even on vacation or in a fast food restaurant if you really want to!
This isn’t to say that every meal has to be perfectly balanced. Really, at the end of the day, the overall dietary pattern matters way more than any single meal.
But I find these steps are just a great tool to guide eating decisions. If you didn’t get in that many vegetables one day, cool! See if you can add in more the next day. No big deal.
The amazing thing about this guide is that it gives you virtually unlimited options. No more food lists or restrictive meal plans or turning down dinner invitations. Food should fit into your lifestyle, not the other way around. You can enjoy your life and time with your loved ones while still fuelling your body and feeling your absolute best.
Stay nourished my friends,