A Healthy Meal Template For Real Life

Eat healthy. Eat healthy. Eat healthy. That’s all anyone ever tells us.

Well I don’t eat healthy, I eat food. And food needs to be healthy. I expect the meals I eat to contain the nutrients and energy that I need to get through my day, and I need it to be delicious and satisfying.

Our bodies are biological machines. They require you to ingest a lot of different chemicals in order to sustain themselves. Rather than list them all here, I want to focus on some general principles for quickly identifying and building healthy meals without a degree in biochemistry.

The Three Segments

Potatoes, chicken and vegetables. Remember those?

That’s a healthy meal. In at least one way – it contains all three of the segments we want in a healthy meal. It just gets the segment sizes totally backwards. In order of size from largest to smallest the segments of a meal breakdown as follows.

Segment I – Vegetables

Segment II – Proteins

Segment III – Carbs

With that in mind, let’s explore the three segments a little further below.

Segment I – Vegetables

This portion is the largest of all three portions on your plate. It will consist of vegetables in one form or another, perhaps as a salad, or fried vegetable dish, etc.. Helpfully, your options for this largest segment are the broadest, and hold the most culinary potential, as there are so many different vegetables and vegetable dishes to choose from.

Segment II – Proteins

The second largest portion on your plate consists of a much narrower category of food that doesn’t reliably appear in vegetables, but which is incredibly necessary. This protein segment of your meal will be composed of poultry, eggs, fish or red meat dishes. This meal portion segment increases in size relative to the amount of physical activity a person does.

Segment III – Carbs

This is the third and final segment of a healthy meal. This stuff is the jet-fuel in your gas-tank. So you won’t need much unless you’re highly physically active. Dependent on your physical goals you may want to consider increasing your carbohydrate intake for meals. This meal segment consists of rice, potatoes and quinoa.

Combining The Segments

Healthy food gets eaten, but simply including all the segments on your plate might not be enough to get your food the respect it deserves. Making all those segments work together as a meal requires two extra considerations using this Healthy Meal Template.

The first is a unifying ingredient. A flavor that can exist across the spectrum of all three segments of your meal that makes them all feel predestined to join up and meet each other in your mouth. Salt is a very obvious unifying ingredient, as is ketchup. For healthier choices try some cold-pressed-extra-virgin-olive oil drizzled over your food, or a dash of paprika and garlic powder, or some home made gravy, etc…

The second thing you’ll need to make all the segments work together is an aesthetic presentation. This does not mean nothing – this has a really powerful impact on the taste of a meal. Take the few extra moments that it invariably requires to ensure that some care is taken to consider the way the food you’re about to serve actually looks on the plate.

Additional Factors

When determining the healthiness of a meal there are two additional variables (beyond any prevalent medical conditions) that will determine the finely tuned perfection of your own meals, using this template as a guide.

Lifestyle is one of those things, as it will affect the size of the various segments of a healthy meal. If you’re camping in the wilderness you’ll need more carbs and more protein than if you’re driving to work and back. Similarly, if you’re trying to lose muscle mass you might reduce the size of your protein segment. Therefore, think of The Healthy Meal Template as a starting point from which to fine tune your perfect fuel intake by taking the time to consider your energy needs specifically.

Thereafter, consider the volume, or size of a meal itself. How big should it be? Are you eating too much, or too little? Follow this link to my article on Meal Portion Sizes to find the simple answers to those complicated questions.

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