A Healthy, Balanced Plate

For years, the info out there about “nutrition” would frustrate me because I never knew what to believe about health.  I have come to the conclusion that a healthy plate is balanced with protein, carbs (whole grains if I can), fiber (from whole grains and veggies/fruit), and healthy fat.  Some sweetener in moderation.  I try to eat mostly whole foods but I also try not to label foods as good or bad.  Just try to eat balanced!  I go by good/better/best.  Much of what you’ll see here is what is “best.”  These are always possible.  And with Balance 365, I’m working on making these into sustainable habits so that it’ll stick this time!

These are the foods that you will see on my plate:

Whole grains/main source of carbohydrates
Grains are one of the most widely controversial foods right now.  There is much debate about whether or not your body needs grains, whether you should cut them out completely, eat whole grains only, or eat some… I have come to the conclusion that it’s just up to you.  How do you feel your best?  Most people can and should eat whole grains, some can’t.

Whole grains contain fiber, iron, protein, calcium, essential carbohydrates, and minerals.

This includes (better and best):

  • Whole grain breads (I prefer my homemade whole wheat bread, but I also buy it)
  • Whole grain pasta
  • Brown rice
  • Oats (steel cut and rolled)
  • Quinoa
  • Brown rice
  • And more

Sometimes we eat white rice or have white hamburger/hot dog buns, but these aren’t super common.  This would be “good.”

Fruits and Vegetables
You need at least 4-6 servings per day.  This is something I will be working on increasing in my Balance 365 journey.

Fruits and veggies give your body FIBER (most important), countless vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, beta carotene, lutein, lycopene, carbohydrates, and other nutrients. If you can afford it, organic is best because they are not sprayed with pesticides and herbicides.  But if you can’t afford it, you will be okay either way. I buy some organic, but only when it’s in my budget.

Proteins
Protein is necessary for developing the right amount of blood cells, and it gives you more energy!   It also keeps you full longer.  WebMD says,“Your body uses protein to build and repair tissues. You also use protein to make enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals. Protein is an important building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood.”  This is probably the most important thing that you can eat.

It is important to get protein from a variety of sources including:

  • Beef, venison (and other wild animals), pork, poultry, and eggs (high in iron, complete protein and fat, and rich in minerals)
  • Sea food (we don’t eat much seafood, but we’re trying to expand in this area)
  • Nuts (peanuts, almonds, cashews, pecans, etc)
  • Seeds (flax, sunflower, pumpkin, hemp, chia)
  • Dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt, etc)
    • Main sources are Greek yogurt and cottage cheese
  • Whole grains (wheat, spelt, quinoa, oats, etc)
  • Nutritional yeast (this can be found in health food stores; we sprinkle it on fresh, stove-popped popcorn)
  • Beans and lentils

Fats
You NEED healthy fats. Fats provide energy, aid in the absorption of calcium and Vitamin A, help brain function and aid in mental health, stronger immune system, and better eye and skin health.  They also keep you satisfied between meals.

Better and best sources are:

  • Avocados
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Virgin coconut oil (research shows that even though this has saturated fat in it, there are many nutrients in it that counter act the saturated fat)
  • Coconut flakes (I use unsweetened)
  • Coconut milk
  • Butter (same as coconut oil)
  • Eggs (yolk)
  • Meat and poultry (dark meat)
  • Milk (we typically drink whole or 2%)
  • Cheese
  • Heavy cream and half and half

Also, we do eat things like mayo and ranch.  Ranch makes my kids want to eat veggies!  Totally worth it.  Sometimes I make these things homemade, sometimes I don’t.  Good is store bought and better/best is homemade.

Water
Water is necessary for:

  • Hydration
  • Energy
  • Brain function
  • Prevents and treats headaches
  • Prevents and relieves constipation
  • Keeps kidneys healthy (my creatnine levels have been off in my blood work)
  • Helps weight loss

In addition to plain water, I drink La Croix, Bubly (also a flavored sparkling water), decaf iced tea, and herbal hot teas.  I am always drinking some kind of liquid.  I have historically drank a LOT of soda, but that doesn’t align with my goals, so I’m reducing that to only on occasion.

I will also always drink coffee; though, we drink half-caff or water processed decaf.

Sweeteners that we use (in moderation)

Ultimately all sweeteners are just sugar.  I prefer the taste in the less processed forms, and I find that they have some nutrients in them as well instead of just empty calories.

Best:

  • Stevia (I mainly use it in decaf iced tea because I’m not a huge fan of the flavor in anything else)

I say best because it’s a natural, zero calorie sweetener.

Better:

  • Sucanat (SUgar Cane NATural)- evaporated cane juice.  Keeps all of the original nutrients intact because it is just evaporated… not refined or processed at all.  I use this is my baking (things like muffins) and in my homemade Greek yogurt.
  • Raw, unfiltered, unheated, local honey (in my hot tea, homemade yogurt, on toast, in my granola, etc)
  • Molasses (don’t use very often)
  • Pure Maple (mostly for cooking/baking)

Good:

  • Turbinado or Zulka (unrefined sugar, in my coffee)
  • Brown sugar (in baking things like cookies)
  • Powdered sugar (mainly when Karis makes her homemade buttercream icing)

All in moderation.  I have a family history of diabetes so I’m going to focus on reducing sugar over time in my program.

Other Supplements that I use (because let’s face it, 100% perfect diet doesn’t happen, ever):

We only eat out 3-4 times a month (if that).  We live far from town.  If we go to town, we typically eat out because we use the whole day to run errands, etc.  Sometimes we take a lunch.  We do, however, eat in the dining hall a few times a week.  So this is similar to eating out :-).  I try to make sure that I don’t over-eat and that I eat a salad (we have a great salad bar).

Nothing is perfect.  We live life the best that we can, hoping that we will be healthy in the long run.  Because I already have issues with my health (mental, cholesterol, kidneys, thyroid, reflux, etc), I am trying to make better decisions with my food.

I will be updating this as I go through my Balance 365 program.  What’s here is a combo of research I have done over the years, some research I have done recently, things I’m learning in my program, and just things that are common knowledge.  Check back!

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