A balanced meal is something that focuses on providing all the nutrients that our body
needs, without going over the recommended daily calorie intake. At the core of a balanced
meal are macronutrients like protein, carbohydrates and fat along with micronutrients, which
include vitamins and minerals. Each of them plays a vital role in maintaining various body
functions. To meet the nutrient requirements essential for good health, we need to eat a
variety through a combination of the five major food groups-

  •  Fruits,
  •  Vegetables,
  •  Whole Grains,
  •  Lean Meat and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds,
  •  Dairy

While planning a meal, try to include “five of five”
To keep your body work effectively, you should include three main meals coupled with
healthy snacks to curb cravings. To curate a balanced meal, you need to follow this phrase,
“Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper.” 

Breakfast should be the largest meal of the day. It should combine dietary fibre or low GI
carbohydrates with protein. Include some healthy fats, fruit and/or vegetables as well. It
should be something that keeps you feeling full and satisfied until lunch. You can have-

  •   Wholegrains such as oatmeal or multigrain toast,
  •  Eggs,
  •  Sprouts,
  •  Nuts or nut butter,
  •  Greek yoghurt or soy milk,
  •  Fruits like bananas, blueberries, strawberries etc.

Avoid high-fat and high-calorie foods. This sort of breakfast will help you eat fewer calories
for the rest of the day.

Lunch, like other meals of the day, should be nutritionally balanced. Your ideal lunch should
be a mix of high-fibre whole grains, starchy carbs and some good source of proteins. You
may also add on some probiotics and fibre to complete your meal. Here are some examples
of a balanced meal for lunch-

  • Brown rice, barley or jowar,
  •  Cottage cheese, pulses, chicken or fish,
  •  Yoghurt or buttermilk,
  • Some fresh salads. 

Your dinner should include foods with a high satiety value as that will help in curbing
midnight bingeing. Divide your dinner plate into four quarters. Fill one-quarter with a lean
protein source, one-quarter with a starch, and the last two-quarters with greens to load up on
vitamins and minerals. One should limit carbs but don’t cut them off. Lets have an example-

  • Brown rice or pasta.
  • Chicken or fish or an egg or tofu,
  • Non-starchy vegetables like zucchini, green beans, broccoli, cabbage, asparagus,
    tomatoes etc.

Don’t give up on snacking in between main meals. Just keep it low in calories and replace all
junk food items with fresh fruits, nuts or a salad.

By Dr Seema Nanda