We know that a meal should be “balanced” – it should have portions of starch, protein, fat and fruit/veg. We have the general idea – but most of us are actually doing it wrong.

The above is a picture of a secretly balanced meal and we’ll tell you the 3 things why this meal is MORE balanced than the average – and how you can do it too for your own meals.

(Click here for a guide on intuitive eating – and learn to listen to your body’s real hunger signals)

1. Carbs

Of course, we have to have some STARCH. We have emotions about this macronutrient – often a component of comfort food, some call it the “cause of all weight gain”, others rely on it to function (athletes/runners).

They are often the food staples of all around the world – eg rice, maize meal, sorghum, potatoes etc. They are quite often, the stable component of any meal.

So here we have some regular ol’ carbs – some pasta.

But this carb is unlike any other regular pasta.

This is chickpea pasta. It’s made from 100% chickpeas. It’s packed full of fibre – way way more fibre. Let’s compare our usual pastas in terms of fibre:

normal pasta – 3.2g fibre per 100g,

wholewheat pasta – 7.4g fibre per 100g

chickpea pasta – a whopping 15g fibre per 100g

A balanced meal is higher in fibre, and keeps you full longer. Aim to swap your regular starch for the higher fibre version of it.

2. Protein

Beef mince is a simple common meal to many, easy to make, and convenient for a quick meal.

There’s not that much to comment on here, just how its almost 90% protein because its made from extra lean beef mince and NOT ground mince.

This is helpful especially on a weight loss or maintenance phase because you get more protein for the same calories because there’s less fat. More muscle food to retain lean mass plus more filling.

Win – win. Aim for your protein sources to be lower in fat.

3. Veg + Fat

This is a simple rather plain Greek salad  – only made with cucumbers, lettuce, cherry tomatoes and black pepper feta cheese, with dashes of lemon juice and salt.

Why it’s more balanced is because there is INTENTIONAL and careful use of fat sources. NOTE: no oil was added here or dressing, because the feta covers the fat portion and adds flavour too (its a black pepper feta cheese).

The biggest pitfall to salads everyday all over the world is the slobbering of hundreds of calories of salad dressing until it looks like leaves swimming in a pool of 1000 island sauce.

Aim for your salads to be as flavourful as you want without extra fats (unless you have a very lean protein source, then you could have extra fats in your salad eg dressing,cheese,mayo etc).

This meal would qualify as a high protein, high fibre, healthy meal. Why healthy? Because its full of foods that are known to increase satiety, increase food volume, and is nutrient dense. BONUS – It was was made in 25minutes total.

How To Make It Work For You

Easy, swap your staple foods for more filling ones. This creates a 1% change for the better. Do this everyday over a period of weeks, you’ll have made a massive difference without much sacrifice.

Small changes lead to big results over time.

Practical examples

Swap your regular pasta for your wholewheat pasta, or if you can get your hands on some – legume pasta (lentil pasta/chickpea pasta/ mung been pasta etc) – simply because you can feel fuller with eating less, and because they give you extra nutrients.

Switch out your regular beef or ground beef for leaner cuts and extra lean beef mince. Ground beef is typically much higher in fat – which is what accounts for the difference in taste but also means its much much much higher in calories, and lower in protein.

You can flavour up your mince meat with all the herbs, garlic, tomato pepper etc and pair it with a great starch and have a WONDERFUL quick meal.

(Psst – spices and herbs are always your super duper best friends – get generous with them in all your meals. Mind the salt though.)

Have your greens/salads. The biggest tip is to be mindful of the dressings and oils – a drizzle becomes an extra 200 calories – which could be up to 10% of your total calorie intake! Unless, that’s the plan of course.

Keep this in mind the next time you’re constructing a “balanced” meal – and see how it can change everything for you.

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