Want to balance your plate? Getting the most your of your breakfast, lunch and dinner can be as simple as a quick glance and asking yourself a few quick questions.
1. Where is my protein?
High quality proteins are essential to the diet. There is a list of reasons why. Primarily because of the ways proteins offset the effects of stress which these days most people are under. Protein stabilises blood sugar (often dysregulated in times of stress), boosts energy levels, sharpens brain function, improves sleep and stabilises mood swings/ agitation. Those that are chronically stressed (with often taxed adrenal glands) may also experience tissue breakdown, caused by collagen proteins being used up faster than they can be replaced.
So with all that said, a fist-size portion of protein should be included in every meal. It doesn’t matter whether it is plant or animal protein. A good guideline is for protein to make up 255% of your meal.
When it comes to protein, think:
- Eggs in any form. Two a day is the maximum.
- Organic sheep/goat/buffalo dairy products that are always full fat.
- Organic red meats, poultry and fish/ seafood.
- Legumes such as chickpeas, split beans and lentils.
How to include more protein in your meals:
- A dollop of natural yogurt and a handful of nuts and seeds on top of breakfast cereals.
- Eggs on GF toast with butter or avocado.
- Tahini or peanut butter on GF toast.
- Green Protein smoothies with a raw egg or half a scoop of fermented brown rice protein powder.
- A piece of fish/ chicken/meat with salad or any kind of vegetables or in a sandwich.
- Hommus/ tahini on top of vegetables of your choice.
2. Where are my live foods?
Do you ever think about food as being dead or alive? The distinction between the two is unfamiliar to many but it’s an important one. Live foods are foods consumed in their original, vibrant state. They are rich in natural enzymes, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals and contain a vital energy you simply can not get from dead, processed and packaged foods.
When it comes to live foods, think:
- Fresh vegetables
- Fresh fruits
- Fermented foods rich in live bacteria include natural yogurt, miso, sauerkraut and kim chi.
Live foods should comprise at least HALF of your plate. At lunch and dinner this is easy. Think:
- Salads (the greener the better)
- Steamed/ blanched/ boiled/ grilled vegetables
- Fermented foods (described above) as condiments.
At breakfast however, most people need some sort of complex carbohydrate (usually a grain in the form of toast or cereals). Grains are important to eat as they provide bulk to the bowel, which aids elimination. Plus many non-glutinous carbs helps stimulate GABA in the brain, decreasing levels of stress and boosting your overall mood (hence why carbs are often referred to as comfort foods). If you can’t bear the thought of veges in the morning, the ideal is to eat replace your half plate of live food in the morning with a good, gluten-free source. Think:
- Cereals – organic oats, cooked/ rolled quinoa, flaked amaranth, natural corn flakes and any other non-glutinous cereals.
- Toast – gluten-free options or sprouted breads (in the fridge at the health food store- Naturis is a great brand).
3. Where are my good fats?
No matter what conventional medicine said back in the 80s, eating high quality, good fats is essential for optimum health. They keep you feeling full, energetic and are necessary for the absorption of many fat-soluble nutrients (such as Vitamins A,E, K and D). Every plate of food you eat should include a big dollop of fat in some way shape or form. You can either top your meal with a little far or cook with it. whether you are topping a meal with some fat or cooking with it.
When it comes to good fats, think:
- Butter, avocado or olive oil spreads on toast.
- A teaspoon of flaxseed or coconut oil in smoothies or on top of cereals.
- Avocado in salads or on top of vegetables.
- Always to eat full-fat dairy products (preferably organic).
- Organic, grass-fed meats that are cooked in their natural (saturated) fats.
- Eating nuts and seeds rich in omega-3 and and omega-6 fats.
- All-purpose cooking with Avocado, almond, coconut, sunflower, sesame oils.
- Best oils for light sautéing and sauces Black sesame, toasted sesame, olive and coconut oil.
- Frying with Coconut and black sesame oils.
- Topping salads with Extra virgin olive oil, Borage oil and Cold-pressed flaxseed oils.
- Avoid completely Canola, soybean, peanut, palm and cottonseed oils (as they inflame the body).
But what if I like grains for lunch and dinner as well?
As I mentioned before, a moderate intake of non-glutinous whole grains is beneficial to the body in many ways. The ideal is to just eat them at breakfast, but if you want them for lunch and dinner too:
- Avoid white grains when possible. If you want bread, pick a brown bread over white bread. If you want rice, choose brown rice over white rice. Generally speaking, the whiter (or more beige) the grain is the more devoid it is of nutrients.
- Opt for gluten-free options, even if you aren’t intolerant. The gluten molecule is an inflammatory one and your health is better off without it. Good gluten-free options include rice, quinoa, corn, amaranth and buckwheat.
- If you are limiting grains at lunch and dinner but still want something heavier to fill you up, consider starchy vegetables such as pumpkin and sweet potato instead.
- If you choose to have grains in your meal, still continue to include good portions of fat and protein with it.
If you want grains when out at lunch or dinner, think:
- Brown rice sushi rolls with avocado and a protein (salmon is a great option).
- Wholegrain, GF pastas with vegetable sauces and protein (Bolognese is great, or anything that includes seafood).
- Wholegrain and/or GF pizzas topped with meats/ seafood/ chicken and a tonne of side salad.