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Putting Together Healthy Meals: Kendra's Tips

Today's guest post was written by Kendra Chow, one of our barre instructors and a registered dietitian.

Although it may seem like it should be simple, eating healthily can be quite tricky. As a Registered Dietitian, I’ve worked with many people who know the health goals they want to achieve, but find it difficult to figure out how to get there. I find that simple guides are often a great way to help you get started on working towards achieving a health goal.

Whether you’re paying more close attention to the types of nutrients you’re eating, are working on weight management, or simply want to eat more healthfully, these are three of my favourite guidelines that give you a great place to start. I’ll use my Mexican Rice Bowl With Beef recipe as an example of how to put these tips to use!

1. Follow the Healthy Plate model for easy-to-measure portion sizes.

The healthy plate model is an easy way to measure portion sizes of each food group. By using it, you make sure that you’re getting a variety of nutrients in a healthy amount. When putting together your meal, make sure that your plate is:

-   ½ Vegetables (and fruit)

-   ¼ Protein (meat, meat alternatives)

-   ¼ Whole grains (rice, pasta, etc.)

Dairy products can make up a side portion of your meal (i.e.: a bit of yogurt, or a glass of milk).

This method is easy to use when making up your plate and can even be used at social outings (like BBQs or buffets), where this can sometimes be more difficult. The Mexican Rice Bowl recipe is a great starting place to practice these proportions, with its mix of vegetables, legumes, meat, rice, and a bit of dairy and healthy fats. And remember: the size of the plate matters! Try to aim for a plate that is at most 9 inches (23 cm) in diameter; bowls will be a bit smaller because of their depth.

2. Eat a variety of food types at meals and snacks.

To give you enough fuel for your day, aim to eat foods from a few food groups (vegetables and fruits; grain products; milk and alternatives; meat and alternatives) in each of your meals and snacks. This will help keep you feeling full, add variety to the types of nutrients that you eat, and provide you with enough energy to get through your day (and barre class!).

Aim for 3-4 food groups at meals, and 2-3 food groups for snacks. For example, this rice bowl has all four food groups, and is great for a meal. A snack with two food groups could be apple slices and a bit of nut butter; make it 3 with a glass of milk (or alternative) as a side!

3. Eat colourful meals.

One of my favourite nutrition principles comes from Japan, where it’s believed the more colourful the meal, the more nourishing it is. This makes sense: different types of nutrients present themselves in different colours in nature. So… think bright! Eat meals with a variety of colours to get your best mix of nutrients. For example, this rice bowl offers a splendor of colours—many other meals can be made to provide the same. Colourful meals are also more visually appealing, making them all the more satisfying. Yum!

4.  Most importantly, take time to enjoy your food. You’ll feel more nourished, mindful, and satisfied when you do.

Happy eating, folks!

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