The basics of a balanced diet
“Let your food be your only medicine” said Hippocrates and this proves how central nutrition is to our health. That's why Sarah Marin-Maire, co-founder and dietician Make Me Healthy, explains to you today the basics of a balanced diet.
Ideally, a day should consist of 3 main meals and 1-2 snacks. Fractionating your diet is important, whether it is for the regulation of glycemia (blood sugar level), to avoid snacking or to avoid meals that are too large and difficult for our stomachs and intestines to digest.
Breakfast is important, after spending a night on an empty stomach, it puts fuel back into the body. If you don't have an appetite when you get out of bed, it is quite possible to take it with you and consume it during your morning break, for example. It can be made up of a whole grain product, fresh fruit, a vegetable or animal dairy product and oilseeds (whole or mashed). Depending on your energy and nutritional needs, a vegetable or animal protein source can also be added. Thus, breakfast could be a bowl of natural yoghurt with muesli without added sugar and a fresh seasonal fruit cut in it, an avocado-toast with fresh goat cheese, pancakes with red fruits and peanut butter, a salty porridge accompanied by seasonal vegetables… There are many variations!
Lunch and dinner should consist of whole grain starches, vegetable proteins (tofu, tempeh, seitan, dehydrated soy proteins) or animal proteins (meat, fish/shellfish, eggs), vegetables and a portion of vegetable oil . The amounts are different for each of us since we are all different. Only a dietician can calculate your needs in terms of energy and nutritional intake so that you know how much of each food family you need to consume to be healthy. However, if you had to imagine the overall distribution of a plate, it would be like this: ¼ of proteins, ¼ of whole starches, ½ of vegetables and a portion of vegetable oil.
The family of cereals/starches is large and it is important to vary your dishes as much as possible in order to benefit from the nutrients of each cereal. You will thus find wholemeal pasta, spelled, small spelled, chestnut, lentil pasta, brown rice, black rice, wild rice, millet, whole semolina, buckwheat, bulgur, quinoa … But also legumes such as green/coral/beluga lentils, red/white beans, chickpeas, split peas. Without forgetting potatoes, sweet potatoes and wholemeal bread, spelled, kamut, rye, small spelled… be curious!
As for vegetables, they change every season. Thus, each month of the year we can buy different vegetables and vary our dishes. Pleasure on the plate depends, among other things, on variety!
It is preferable to consume seasonal vegetables because, picked when ripe, the taste and vitamins will be there and you will be able to benefit from all their benefits! When we eat in season, we also often eat locally, so your vegetables will be fresher and therefore tastier and contain more nutrients while supporting local farmers. Choose them if possible ORGANIC to avoid ingesting pesticides, chemical fertilizers and GMOs. ⠀
And finally, the snacks. When calculated by a dietician, they are not an addition of calories contrary to what one might think, but simply a better splitting of food. Instead of splitting, for example, 2000 calories into three meals over a day, we will divide them into 4 to 5 meals. Thus, this will prevent us from snacking in the morning or afternoon, snacking while preparing meals or even being hungry at lunch/dinner time and eating too quickly.
In addition, snacks also have the advantage of regulating blood sugar and thus allowing a stable blood sugar level throughout the day. In this way the insulin will be less solicited and the storage of fats, limited.
Thus it will be possible to make a snack with a portion of fruit and some almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts or a banana and almond puree or even a mini sandwich with cheese and raw vegetables, again there are many variations.
Finally, in all your dishes, both savory and sweet, consider herbs and spices: cinnamon, turmeric, paprika, vanilla pod/powder, coriander, parsley, chives, etc. But also onions, shallots and garlic . They are essential to spice up your dishes, allow you to salt them less and above all delight your taste buds!
Article written by Sarah Marin-Maire, co-founder and dietician Make Me Healthy