Building Blocks of Healthy Meals
Healthy eating means that you need to feed your body with all nutrients it needs to function properly and remain healthy. That is why it is all about eating a variety of foods every day in order to get every good thing your daily meals can offer. Although healthy eating does not require you to follow any strict instructions, there are some recommendations that will help you to get the best results. The most important recommendations are associated with the building blocks of your healthy meals.
Healthy eating includes a great variety of foods and it is up to your taste preferences how to combine them. Nevertheless, if you want to provide your body with all the essential elements it needs, it will be wise to learn what combinations are the fullest in terms of nutrition. So let us see what are the building blocks and proportions of healthy eating.
Recommendations on Daily Meals
The first thing we recommend you to do is to imagine an empty plate that will hold all the food you eat during your day and to divide it into six parts. Each part of your plate is to be filled with different foods and, what is more important, these parts have to come in different sizes.
- The biggest part has to take about 35% of your plate. It has to be filled with green vegetables of your choice. You can fill it with spinach, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, lettuce, cucumbers, zucchini, kale, chard, green beans asparagus, argula, watercress, etc.
Choose a variety, mix vegetables together and feed your body with an array of nutrients. In an ideal scenario, all the vegetables have to be locally grown or even homegrown. When it comes to the division of these vegetables between your meals, they have to make a half of every main meal you eat.
- The second largest part has to take about 25% of your plate. This part is to be filled with proteins needed to build muscle and stabilize blood sugar. Note that it is exactly proteins that create all of our necessary hormones, enzymes, and antibodies, so it is recommended to include them in every main meal you eat.
Depending on your preferences, you can choose from animal and plant proteins. In terms of healthy eating, animal proteins include organic meats, cold-water fatty fish and other seafood, eggs, and dairy that comes from grass-fed animals. Plant proteins include nuts, nut butters, beans, legumes, plant milks such as coconut and hemp mil and grains with the high level of proteins such as quinoa.
- The third part that takes about 20% of your plate has to be filled with antioxidants. Antioxidants help the body to fight free radicals that can cause such diseases as heart disease, cancer, and some others. The best sources of antioxidants are plant-based foods. So when it comes to the list of foods, you can choose between fruits, vegetables, berries, or even treat yourself with two squares of dark chocolate.
Fruit antioxidants include apples, mangoes, oranges, grapefruits, bananas and some other. Vegetable antioxidants are tomatoes, red peppers, sweet potatoes, eggplants, etc. Berries antioxidants are blueberries, cherries, cranberries, blackberries, elderberries, and mulberries. When it comes to making your choice, note that nearly all dark red, blue or purple fruits are considered to be a great source of antioxidants. Do not forget to mix them up and always try to choose locally grown ones.
- The fourth part of your plate, comparatively small one, has to be filled with grains. Grains have to take about 13% of your daily food or no more than a quarter of your main meals. You can choose between amaranth, millet, corn, whole-grain brown rice, bulgur wheat, buckwheat, oats. There are also two grains (actually seeds) that can provide your body with both fiber, protein and minerals – quinoa and wild rice. While choosing grains for your meal, always focus on organic ones and GMO-free ones.
- The fifth part of your plate takes about 5% and has to be filled with fermented foods. Although the amount of fermented foods in your daily meals is not so big, it is exactly how much your body needs to keep digestion working properly and the immune system stay strong.
You can choose some dairy products such as kefir, yogurt or raw cheese. Just note that all the dairy products you eat have to come from grass-fed animals. You can also choose from such fermented foods as sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, tempeh, miso.
The last one, the sixth part of your plate which makes about 2% of your daily food, is to be filled with fats. In terms of healthy eating, not just fats but healthy fats stored in such foods as olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, butters and lards from grass-fed animals.
There are a lot of people, especially those who want to lose weight, who think that fats have to be avoided. While it is true for trans fats, healthy fats are crucial. As you can see, you do not need to eat a lot of fat, and such small amount as 2% of your daily food will provide you with a lot of benefits. It is worth to mention, that higher fat intake is needed during pregnancy and lactation.
While choosing foods with fat, note that you have to avoid hydrogenated ones as hydrogenated olis and fats always come with trans fats.