Note: this post was updated 8 November 2021 to include my latest information on quantities
Keeping your metabolic health goals on track is all about consistency. But continually planning your meals to get the balance of food types, combinations, quantities and nutrition right, can be nothing short of exhausting.
To prevent decision fatigue, I have a simple guide that I use to formulate the ideal balanced meal. It ticks all the nutritional boxes for a happy, healthy, energised and less inflamed me.
Although there is never a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to nutrition, there are 7 core principles that I encourage my clients to follow to make sure they’re creating plates of food that will nourish their bodies.
These principles are simple. And I hope you can get what you need to help plan your every meal.
Download my free PDF guide:
7 tips for creating a balanced plate
- Eat real food. This means nothing processed, nothing refined.
- Investing in the quality of your food is paramount. Aim for organic, pasture-raised and grass-fed proteins.
- Eat good fats in their raw state (activated nuts, avocado, olives, fresh coconut, cold-pressed olive oil).
- Add protein in line with your body’s needs, preferences and beliefs. This really is a case of quality over quantity. I encourage eating animal protein with a conscious mind. Be aware of how that animal was treated, raised and fed.
- Fibre and fat balance blood sugar levels, as does protein. When you are not eating protein, eat fibre and fat together, they also keep you satisfied for longer. My favourite fibre-rich foods are berries, avocados and broccoli.
- Keep these off your plate
Sugar – including all forms of artificial sweeteners
Grains and processed foods
All vegetable oils
- Most importantly, eat to nourish and not punish.
WHAT TO EAT…
Here’s my super-simple guide:
All the greens
MAJORITY OF YOUR PLATE
I believe in greens and more greens! Be sure to include herbs and wild plants where possible. Greens are a rich source of fibre, vitamins and minerals, low in sugar, full of phytonutrients and antioxidants, loaded with water and are alkalising. Load your plate with bitter greens like rocket, coriander and other herbs plus cooked spinach, broccoli, asparagus and other non-starchy vegetables. I also love nori (seaweed) – either as a wrap or chopped.
I usually do a salad at lunch and cooked vegetables for dinner.
Protein or plant based alternatives
PORTION SIZE = THE PALM OF YOUR HAND
Whether plant or animal protein, make sure you’re getting the correct balance of nutrients and amino acids. I’m an animal protein eater and always choose high-quality animal protein that comes from animals that are pasture-raised, roam freely and receive no growth hormones or antibiotics.
If you are vegan you can go for tofu, quinoa, beans here
Twice a week I eat low protein, called protein fasting, and have a fruit bowl (more on this below). Protein fasting is great for our health, keeps the body guessing and great for women too, especially before their menstrual cycle.
ADD AS DESIRED
Fats are so important for hormones, brain function, satiety and body composition. Choose a good quality source of fat. I love extra virgin olive oil and avocado oil drizzled over my salads. If you’re cooking with fat or oil, use grass fed ghee or coconut oil. Keep an eye on my posts for the best fats and oils to eat. We all need fat to survive, it’s getting the intake right that’s the important part.
Starchy veg/carbs or fruit
An easy way to remember this is to look for mainly ‘fruits and roots’ – fruits, and low impact starchy vegetables which generally come from roots, and carbs. Good examples are:
- Sweet potatoes
- Cold potatoes (cold potatoes are rich in resistant starch, and have lower sugar impact)
- Legumes, if tolerated
- Fruit as long as its after a meal, as a treat. Pineapple and papaya are rich in natural digestive enzymes, and berries are great too.
A NOTE ON FRUIT IN MY DIET
I rarely combine fruit with other foods like proteins, vegetables and starches. I do however eat a fruit bowl twice a week for some protein fasting. I also generally eat more fruit before my menstrual cycle – it’s great for women.
Here are some more tips for eating fruit:
- Fruit shouldn’t be eaten after a protein-rich meal.
- Certain fruits like papaya and pineapple are the exceptions as they have specific enzymes that assist digestion while melons, grapes and mango ferment easily.
- Berries are versatile and go well in smoothies and even salads.
- The majority of us have digestive issues such as gas and bloating. I recommend not eating fruit unless it is on an empty stomach and at least 30 minutes before tucking into a meal. Alternatively, eat fruit 3 to 4 hours after a meal. You can also avoid fruit altogether and eat high quantities of vegetables instead.
- The best time to eat fruit is in the morning. It’s one of the purest light foods to break your night fast.
A dash of nutrient-dense zing
There are so many deliciously health ways to add flavour to your plate. My favourites are herbs, apple cider vinegar, kimchi, chilli, tahini and lemon juice.
Based on these core principles, I structure my plate wherever I go, knowing that I am providing my body with the right combination of nutrients, every time I eat.
When you start to plan your food in this manner, then you start to feel better and understand that you’re building a healthier and more resilient you, with every meal you eat.
ORDER OF QUANTITIES
These guidelines aren’t based on percentages, grams or calories, but rather emphasise which nutrient quantities to focus on, from biggest to smallest:
- Firstly GREENS on the majority of your plate
- Then PROTEIN about the size of the palm of your hand
- Then, in smaller quantities – FATS and..
- FRUIT or STARCHY VEG/CARBS
Download my free PDF guide: