How to design nutritionally balanced meals

24 January 2017

If you think that eating (only) broccoli for a whole week is healthy or that fasting will give you a model’s figure overnight, we’ve got news for you: you’re wrong! Healthy eating is all about striking the right balance, which means making room for everything in moderation.

Your body needs variety: vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Each food group has its own unique and vital role to play—and if you take one away, your body suffers inside and out. That’s why it’s so important to have a good understanding of how to include all these nutrients in your meals and make sure you’re eating healthily.

The first thing is to have at least four food intakes a day (five if there’s a long gap between breakfast and lunch). Each of the three main meals—breakfast, lunch and dinner—should contain at least one portion from each food group: vitamins and minerals, proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Not forgetting liquid intake, preferably water. In between meals, a handful of nuts, a yogurt, some fresh fruit or some bread with cheese or turkey are good options for giving yourself an energy boost so that you’re not ravenous when you get to the meal table.

But how exactly should you combine these portions? Well, you simply need to know where to find them. In general, you’ll find proteins in pulses, eggs, meat and dairy products; carbohydrates in pasta, bread, flour and cereals; vitamins and minerals in fruit and vegetables; and (healthy) fats in olive oil, blue fish, avocado and nuts.

With these basic pointers under your belt, you should now be able to put together a nutritionally balanced meal. Honestly, it’s that simple! Breakfast: toast with extra-virgin olive oil and fresh tomato and white coffee. Lunch: spaghetti Bolognese with turkey, followed by fruit. Dinner: omelette with salad and bread.

The idea is to mix together different foods to make sure your body gets what it needs. There’s no need to go mad, though: your body works in cycles and the alarm bells won’t start ringing just because a meal doesn’t contain something from each and every food group. Other healthy habits include eating three pulse dishes a week, getting most of your energy needs from carbohydrates, always picking healthy fats, eating red meat in moderation, and keeping tempting but unhealthy foods like sweets and fizzy drinks to a bare minimum. What else? Keep active! Walk whenever possible, climb the stairs, go dancing, etc. Physical activity doesn’t only mean sport, you know.

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