Fitbit's Guide to a Balanced Diet
This easy-to-use guide aims to bring balance to your plate without the need to pull out measuring cups or a scale. The goal is simple: fill half your plate with vegetables, a quarter with healthy carbohydrate-rich foods, a quarter with lean protein foods and a dollop of healthy fats. Throughout the day, snack on a couple of pieces of fruit and sip on mostly water. When you approach each meal with this mindset then no matter your dishware – bowl, plate, lunchbox or three-course meal – you’ll be able to build your own healthy, balanced meal.
Wondering which ingredients fall into which portion of your plate? It’s simple when you understand that foods with similar nutrients – like macronutrients, vitamins, and minerals – can be grouped. Let’s look at each portion of the plate in more detail.
Fill half of your plate with colourful, non-starchy vegetables
Vegetables are an important source of nutrients including potassium, dietary fibre, folate (folic acid), vitamin A and vitamin C.
- Choose: Go for fresh, frozen or canned vegetables, making sure to include a variety of colours, particularly dark greens, reds and oranges.
- Ideas to try:
-Green = dark leafy greens, cabbage, asparagus, broccoli, cucumber, herbs and spices
-Red = tomatoes, radishes, peppers, beets, rhubarb
-Purple = cabbage, eggplant, red onion, kale
-White = mushrooms, cauliflower, parsnips, turnips, garlic
-Yellow = bell pepper, spaghetti squash, summer squash, turmeric, ginger
Fill a quarter of your plate with carbohydrate-rich foods
- Choose: mostly whole grains like whole wheat, rolled oats, barley, farro, millet, quinoa, brown rice or grain products like whole-wheat bread, breakfast cereals, tortillas and pasta. Starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes, potatoes, green peas, sweet corn and acorn squash also work well.
- Limit: refined grains like white bread, rice and pasta, and other products made from white flour.
Foods that provide high levels of protein include animal products like meat, eggs and dairy, and plant proteins like beans, lentils and soy. These foods provide not only protein but B vitamins (niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, and B6), vitamin E, iron, zinc, magnesium and calcium.
- Choose: a variety of animal protein foods including fish, seafood, eggs, lean meats, poultry and low-fat dairy. Also try plant-proteins like beans, lentils, edamame, tofu, tempeh and soy milk.
- Limit: fatty cuts of meat and processed meats.
Add a dollop of healthy fats
Oils derived from plants and fish provide essential fatty acids, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and vitamin E.
- Choose: healthy plant oils found in avocados, olives, nuts and seeds. Cook with plant oils that are liquid at room temperature, such as extra-virgin olive oil, avocado oil and nut and seed oils.
- Limit: fats that are solid at room temperature including lard, butter and coconut oil – all of which can raise your bad LDL cholesterol.
Eat some fresh, whole fruit
Fruit is packed with several essential nutrients including potassium, dietary fibre, vitamin C and folate. Have a piece of fruit as a part of your healthy carbs, as a snack or a nutritious dessert.
- Choose: fresh, canned or frozen, and eat fruit whole, cut-up or pureed.
- Limit: your portions of dried fruit and fruit juice – they’re higher in calories, deliver more sugar and are easy to overconsume.
- Ideas to try:
-Green = kiwi, grapes, apple
-Red = strawberries, raspberries, watermelon, pomegranate
-Purple = blackberries, plums
-White = bananas, white nectarines, white peaches
-Yellow = cantaloupe, grapefruit, mango, pineapple
Drink mostly water
Stay hydrated throughout the day with water and low-calorie beverages.
- Choose: tap, sparkling, carbonated or still water, unsweetened tea and coffee.
- Limit: sugar-sweetened drinks like soda, energy drinks, sports drinks, sweetened coffee and tea.
Try one of these healthy recipes to help build a balanced plate easily:
- Courgette veiled salmon
- Baked green eggs
- Mixed tomato and bulgur salad
- Raspberry and banana smoothie
Source: Adapted from an original article by Jamie Wise, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Fitbit health coach
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