If you want to start the year taking care of your diet, you should start by understanding what your balanced plate should include to have a healthy diet . In addition, e sto will help us to better organize the menu and, likewise, simplify the shopping list. This will make it easier not to stray from the path.
Although to achieve a healthy diet you must eat natural and quality food, it is also important to have a balance in the nutrients that make up your dishes throughout the day . For this it is important that you erase from your head all those incorrect and obsolete concepts that have made us believe that carbohydrates are the basis of our diet, giving even more importance to these than to the vegetables, fruits and nuts that have been the basis of human food for millions of years. We see this in the food pyramids that they have wanted to sell us for a long time.
The new natural food pyramid
In my book ” Change what you eat and you will change the world ” I propose a different food pyramid, in which the welfare of the people prevails and not the interests of an industry that sells the concept of an economically “more profitable” diet at first glance but which in the long run is more expensive for our health.
The natural food pyramid has a solid foundation made up of one of my favorite food groups, vegetables and fruits (in this case the ones with the lowest starch and fructose content, I’ll tell you more about this later); followed by the group of meat, poultry, fish and shellfish, and eggs; the group of nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruits with a higher starch and fructose content; and at the tip the dairy group.
But this post is not to talk about the food pyramid, what I want is to translate this pyramid into a more real and tangible tool, our balanced plate of food .
Natural Athlete’s balanced plate
I thought maybe it would be a good idea to give a general guide on how to structure your dishes so that, at the end of the day, you give to your body the necessary nutrients for its proper functioning. It is not an absolute recommendation, much less a straitjacket. Not all dishes should be like this, nor are we all the same. It is just an idea to keep in mind of what an ideal meal should be like that, like everything else, we must adapt to our reality. At the end of the post I leave you an example menu based on this concept, so that you can see its practicality and understand better how you can apply it both at home and when you eat out .
So how do I go about having a balanced meal? The first thing is to validate that each of its components cover the following functions : to give energy, to build tissues and to regulate our body.
Having energy for the body to carry out all its daily activities is vital, so including this type of food will help improve performance and not force the body to work without the necessary gasoline, as this would only generate exhaustion in the future and it would wear down our muscles. The nutrients that provide energy are fats and carbohydrates; however, fats are healthier since they fill you faster and for longer (ideal for weight reduction and control issues), and do not generate sugar peaks in blood, unlike many carbohydrates (especially the ultra-processed ones), important for the control of blood glucose levels, as is the case with Diabetes.
As energy sources I recommend fats from nuts and flours derived from them, seeds, butter, avocado, and oils such as olive and coconut , always in their organic version. If you want to use a sweetener that is more natural and in line with a more balanced lifestyle I recommend coconut sugar or raw honey , and you always prefer gluten-free carbohydrates and low in starches such as quinoa, buckwheat, tapioca flour and chestnut flour. Although in general I always suggest avoiding carbohydrates , since (especially the ultra-processed ones) they digest quickly and pass into the blood in a short time of ingesting them, which greatly increases glycemic peaks and makes us feel the need to eat again in a short time. It’s a never ending vicious cycle.
In relation to the portions, most of the fatty components are used for the preparation of food, so I am not obsessed with them, the important thing is that my balanced plate always provides a source of energy to my body ; but I could say that I try to be 20% of the plate .
Building (especially in the case of children) and repairing (in cases of injuries or blows) body tissues, such as muscles and organs, is a vital function. For this it is necessary to include in our plate protein source foods such as red meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy .
In the concept of a natural balanced plate, it is important to distinguish between quality red meats such as grass-fed cows, an ultra-processed meat composed of a large amount of sulfites or from hormonal cows or those that antibiotics have been given. With regard to dairy, try to always be organic and without skimming or refining, they are healthier and rich in nutrients. You can also opt for fermented dairy such as kefir or yogurt, which are rich in probiotics that help maintain the health of your intestine and the rest of the body. In my meals, protein usually occupies 30% of the plate .
Regulate the body
The body is made up of many systems (digestive, muscular, nervous…), and ensuring their proper functioning is vital to avoid diseases. The microscopic watchers in charge are vitamins and minerals , whose main source of supply is fruits and vegetables . These should be the basis of our diet, eliminating the consumption of cereals, pasta, rice and derivatives.
In my main meals half of the plate is usually occupied by vegetables, and although sometimes I prepare a salad in which I add fruits, I usually use these more as a snack or to prepare my smoothies because their carbohydrate content is usually higher, so I avoid abusing them. Not all vegetables and fruits are the same, so keep in mind not to abuse those with the highest starch content such as bananas, squash, peas, beans, carrots, and cucumber with peel.
What I like most about this concept of the natural balanced plate is its practicality, since it can be adapted to any situation or place. Whether you eat with what you have in the fridge or go out to eat, this concept allows you to select from many components, according to availability and taste. The most important thing is that you are clear about which foods are in each group in order to cover the three main functions of energizing, building or repairing, and regulating your body.
For example, when I eat a first and second course, what I do is find that the sum of both contributes to the 3 food groups; and if I don’t eat one of the groups in one of the meals of the day, I try to compensate it in the following ones. The idea is that this tool is a guide, not a jail. So it is important to clarify that it is NOT necessary that you portion your plate like the one in the image, here only the proportions in which each group of foods present in our food should be are shown, so they may be even mixed together to form combined dishes such as sweet potato noodles with peanut sauce and quinoa sushi with peanut butter with wakame salad.