Here’s how to create a healthy and balanced diet that supports your overall nutritional needs and heals your body at the same time.
You need to start by making a list of allergies, ailments, diagnosed diseases, or health conditions you may be predisposed to. From here you can assess what ‘gaps’ need to be filled alongside building health.
So, you want to look at it from a health-building and healing perspective – as opposed to just seeking to ‘eat healthily’.
What is a balanced diet and why is it important?
Eating healthy in general is good, but targeting areas that need attention or extra nutrition and care is a more proactive approach in creating a balanced diet.
Having a targeted approach can have more long-term benefits in terms of creating a body that is balanced in all areas – ensuring no area gets neglected, which can lead to nutritional imbalances.
To read more about imbalances in nutrition, click here.
How can you create a balanced diet – one that supports your overall nutritional needs?
- Consider your health conditions
- Include the right foods that build health
- Include the right foods that can heal your health conditions
- Include exercise for physical and mental fitness
- Practice smart meal planning
- Practice efficient meal prep
Aim for balance and alignment.
Don’t forget that physical fitness and exercise are important. Everyone’s version of exercise is different and that’s ok.
If you want to know how to align physical fitness with eating healthy, read my 8 Tips for building a sustainable Exercise plus Eating routine‘ here.
Sometimes your health might not allow for rigorous exercise either. So, I encourage you to incorporate a moderate amount of movement every day to complement a healthy diet. Even a brisk 1/2 mile walk is enough.
How can you support your health with nutrition?
A plan of action:
- Once you know what your deficiencies are you can target that with healing foods.
A balanced diet example: if you’ve discovered that you have an iron deficiency, you know that your eating plan needs to include foods rich in iron.
But, you also need to consume foods rich in Vitamin C to help with the absorption of that iron. So you need to think along those lines.
- Then you need to think about balanced diet nutrients ie. macro and micronutrients.
I highly recommend you first read my article on Micronutrients and Macronutrients here.
Understanding what kind of nutritional ingredients certain foods have will guide you to what kind of eating plan is best for you. You need to consider how much macronutrients like Carbs, Fats (good fats), Protein, and Fibre you need per meal and per day.
The next thing to consider are micronutrients like vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids, and what each one can offer you. Then it’s a matter of locating which foods have it.
If you want to learn more about nutritional deficiencies, click here.
What types of food should you include in a balanced diet?
- First you need to learn about the cooking potential of certain fruits, veggies, adaptogens, and superfoods. This will help you with meal prep and planning. It will guide you as to what you can and can’t cook with depending on your kitchen setup.
Then you can make a list of all the foods you need to include in your balanced diet because you’ll know how to cook with them.
Bear in mind that some healthy foods are more potent in raw form and others will give you more nutrition when they are cooked.
For example, Kale is best served cooked or lightly sautéed than raw. In its raw form, it contains a compound called Goitrogen which can interfere with Thyroid function. When it’s cooked, the heat destroys that Goitrogen.
- Next, think about your goals.
Everyone wants overall good health. But, perhaps you’d like to be more physically fit, then you’ll need to consume more to fuel up.
Or perhaps you’d like to slim down a little or improve your gut health, in which both cases, you would need to consume more alkaline and anti-inflammatory foods.
Remember, you don’t have to be sick to improve anything. You can improve just for the sake of being proactive.
- Lastly, consider your lifestyle and be honest about it.
How much time do you have to meal prep and cook?
How much time do you have to sit down for a healthy, conscious meal?
If you’re committed to eating a balanced diet, you must consider these factors.
- You can eat healthy no matter where you live, what you do for a job, or how much time you have. Just take it into consideration.
For example, if you’re tight on time and budget (because that’s just how it is for most of us these days), that’s ok.
All you need is to develop an eating plan, meal prep schedule, and eating style that allows you to meal prep with minimal healthy ingredients.
And you want to cook with healthy ingredients that ‘stretch’, increasing the value of your grocery budget.
Plus adopt an eating style (not extreme diet) that allows for multiple ingredient and meal rotation ie. maximize everything.
A food list for a balanced diet
Here is a general balanced diet food list that includes all macro and micronutrients as well as healing foods like adaptogens.
Some adaptogens don’t always make the list of common healthy foods to eat every day.
It’s often overlooked and that’s why I make a point of emphasizing it with my clients.
Adaptogens are fantastic for stress and fatigue.
Here’s an example of what a balanced diet should include across all meals:
Note that you will swap and choose ingredients according to your recipes and meal prep. All these food categories are designed to include a macro and micronutrient for a balanced diet.
Xylitol | Stevia | Coconut sugar | Date sugar | Maple Syrup | Dates
Vanilla extract | Maple Syrup | Cinnamon | Agave | Dark Chocolate (70% or more) | Dates
Ghee | Coconut oil | Avocado oil | Flaxseed Oil | Olive Oil (Extra Virgin)
Soy | Tofu | Nuts | Chia seeds | Pumpkin seeds | Flaxseeds | Lentils | Beans | Chicken (grass-fed/free-range) | Red Meat (grass-fed/free-range). Keep Red meat to a minimum – it increases LDL (bad) cholesterol because it’s high in saturated fat.
Red lentils have the same amount of protein as red meat and it’s cheaper
Banana | Carrot | Beets | Coconut | Walnuts | Sunflower seeds | Beans | All Herbs | Cabbage
This list includes gluten-free flours and bread
Oats | Quinoa | Chickpeas | Pears | Sweet potato | Apple | Cauliflower | Zucchini | Carrots | Broccoli | Sweet Potato | Parsnips | Brussel Sprouts | Corn | Beets
Creating and eating a healthy balanced diet is not just about loading up on foods that are presumed healthy. It’s about knowing what certain foods can offer you in terms of nutrition. And remember those nutritional constituents need to add value to you specifically – it’s different for everyone.
Healing should be a big motivational factor in the way you choose your foods, how you consume them, and when. Allow this to dictate your eating style, meal planning, and meal prep, it’s a good thing!
If you’re feeling motivated after reading this article and I hope you are, download my FREE guide to Healthy Swaps.
And for extra motivation, here’s another FREE Guide to Nutritional Pantry Essentials specifically geared for eating healthfully.
Download them now.
If you liked this blog post, you’ll love this article about healthy eating on a budget.
Would you like to see another blog post about creating a balanced diet?
Let me know in the comments section, I value your feedback.
*cravenutritionalcooking.com does not give medical advice. Where there is a reference to it, the phrasing is used to illustrate a point or give context to food and cooking for nutrition. It is not related to a specific condition or any specific individual. Always consult your healthcare professional for medical and dietetic advice before embarking on any type of eating plan or ingesting nutritional supplements.
See our Policies page for more details