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Healthy Meals

The healthiest diets are those that both achieve balance between carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats and are nutrient-rich with vitamins and minerals from a variety of whole foods including whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. There are numerous diet plans that provide the nutrients needed for those with particular medical needs, such as a diabetic diet, the DASH diet, or gluten-free celiac diet. However, the majority of people benefit from healthy meals that balance the food groups and provide your body with an array of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients (Berkeley Wellness, n.d.).

Balancing Your Plate

When assessing the health of your meals, take a look at your plate. Dividing your plate into sections can help you visualize the types of foods you should eat. For example, fruits and vegetables should take up half of your plate (United States Department of Agriculture, 2016). A person who needs 2,000 calories per day should aim to get 2 cups of fruits and 2 ½ cups of vegetables every day. This may include fresh, frozen, canned, or dried produce. Whenever possible, eat fruits and vegetables from across the color spectrum. This ensures that you get an array of beneficial vitamins and minerals to support health.

Just under one quarter of your plate should consist of protein (United States Department of Agriculture, 2016). The best protein sources are lean proteins, such as skinless chicken breasts, turkey, eggs, or deli meat. Opt for non-animal proteins whenever you can. Beans, soy products, and lentils make excellent non-animal sources of protein. This keeps saturated fat levels in check and improves cardiovascular health (Szeto, Kwok, & Benzie, 2004).

Finally, the remaining quarter of your plate should be filled with grains. Aim to get 6 ounces of grains each day, with at least half of those coming from whole-grain sources (United States Department of Agriculture, 2016). Whole grains include buckwheat, whole-wheat toast, whole-wheat pasta, millet, oats, quinoa, amaranth, and barley. These foods are high in fiber and help you feel fuller for a longer period of time.

Although oils, butter, and other fats add flavor to food, it is best to limit these as much as possible. When choosing fats, opt for heart-healthier olive oil, safflower oil, or flaxseed oil over butter and animal fats. These oils contain unsaturated fats that decrease cardiovascular risk and may ward of certain chronic diseases (Schmidt & Dyerberg, 1994).

Beyond Meals: Thinking in Days, Not Plates

While the aforementioned advice of balancing plates is a great way to stay healthy, it is not always tenable. Additionally, many of us prefer certain tastes at certain times, and not all foods fit into this selective schema. The guidelines do, however, offer a great way to balance your diet throughout the day- so keep them in mind as you contemplate a dinner that balances the plate provided by breakfast and lunch.

To this effect, we’ve also explored a variety of individual needs and considerations to offer suggestions for keeping a balanced diet throughout the day. Take a look at the selections we’ve provided below.

Dinner Ideas »

The word “dinner” doesn’t need to inspire dread- but it should make your make your mouth water! Making meals for the family is made easy with these recipes, ingredients, and tips for a healthy dinner dish.

Healthy Breakfast Ideas »

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so it’s essential to have an arsenal of healthy foods available each and every morning. Prepare for the day ahead with these healthy breakfast ideas from Nuts.com.

Healthy Desserts »

A sweet treat at the end of your day is often well-earned, but the wrong confections can cause the your diet to crumble beneath the weight of that caramel-covered six scoop Sundae. Find a balance between healthy living and indulgence with these delicious dessert suggestions and recipes.

Healthy Grocery List »

Trying to eat healthy can be a difficult adventure. The first step is finding foods that encourage a balanced diet. While there are certain staples from which any kitchen could stand to benefit, the majority of items will vary depending on tastes and proclivities. Learn what to look for on your next outing to the market here.

Lunch Ideas »

Lunch can make or break your afternoon, as the nutrients you get during this pivotal meal either provide the fuel you need or slink you into a fat-, salt- or sugar-spurred sedation. Discover the perfect plate to power you through the post-lunch lethargy that so often pilfers the last productive hours left in your day with these tips and recipes!

Quick Meals »

Lack the time needed to prepare elaborate plates and dishes? Preparing a healthy meal doesn’t need to eat into your busy schedule to be both wholesome and delectable. Discover strategies and recipes to get you through the day in great health here!

Vegan Meals »

A lot goes into preparing a vegan meal that is both nutritious and delicious. While it may seem like no easy feat to create great plates without butter, meat, or any other animal products- a little practice and some insider tips can go a long way. Check out our tips for preparing a palatable vegan meal and discover the joys vegan cooking can bring!

References

Schmidt, E.B. & Dyerberg, J. (1994). Omega-3 fatty acids. Drugs, 47(3), 405-424.

Szeto, Y.T., Kwok, T.C.Y., Benzie, I.F.F. (2004). Effects of a long-term vegetarian diet on biomarkers of antioxidant status and cardiovascular disease risk. Nutrition 20(10), 863-866.

United States Department of Agriculture (2016). MyPlate daily checklist. Retrieved from http://www.choosemyplate.gov/sites/default/files/myplate/checklists/MyPlateDailyChecklist_2000cals_Age14plus.pdf