Eating a healthy diet doesn’t mean every meal has to be romaine lettuce and grilled chicken. There are so many other delicious, healthy meals you can make using this easy formula right here. And now that you know the easy formula for healthier meals (1/2 plate of veggies/fruits, 1/4 plate protein, 1/4 plate grains), I’m sure you’re asking yourself…what kinds of foods should be on your plate?
Truthfully, you can fit all kinds of foods into your diet plan. But if you’re looking to boost the nutrition of your meals (because we know how beneficial eating healthy is, regardless of weight loss), knowing these key elements of a healthy diet can help with keeping your body fueled and happy. These elements came from Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, and author of the book The Sports Nutrition Playbook, who recommends adding the following types of foods to your plate!
High-fiber whole grains
Even if the media or some influencer is telling you that extremely low-carb diets like kept work for weight loss, they aren’t sustainable and they lack a very important nutrient your body needs—fiber. According to Amy, fiber is important for your gut health and digestion. Plus, it can help with keeping you fuller for longer, revs up your metabolism, and helps lower your cholesterol. White bread products (bread, pasta, tortillas, etc) are lacking fiber because that nutrient is taken out, which is why it’s important to look for whole-grain bread products that have a few grams of fiber on the label. Humans should eat around 25 to 30 grams of fiber a day, but the average American only gets around 10 to 15.
Amy points out that lean protein helps to build and repair your lean muscle—so important after a workout! Great sources of lean protein in your diet include chicken, fish, eggs, legumes, pork, turkey, shellfish/seafood, and even lean cuts of beef.
Omega-3 fatty acids are important for your heart health, so finding ways to incorporate these fatty-rich foods are important. Different kinds of fish—like tuna and salmon—are an easy way to get your omega-3’s in. Seeds are also up there (like chia and flaxseed) as well as walnuts and avocados. Even olive oil contains omega-3’s, making it a great option to cook with.
Your best options for calcium and vitamin D will come from dairy foods. Think milk, Greek yogurt, cheese, and yes, the occasional scoop of ice cream.
Colorful fruits and vegetables
Make your plates so colorful, you can’t help but take a picture of your meal! All of the different colors in your favorite fruits and vegetables represent different types of nutrients for your body. For example, orange fruits and veggies provide your body with beta-carotene, which helps with eye health, skin health, skin health, and lung health. Challenge yourself to eat all the colors of the rainbow throughout the week to get a variety of nutrients into your diet!
While these five elements of a healthy diet do break down specific foods, to be honest, if you’re following this easy formula when setting your plate for a meal, I can almost guarantee you’ll be getting these five main elements in. Don’t overthink it!
Fiber, Lipids, and Coronary Heart Disease (American Heart Association)
MyPlate Dietary Guidelines (U.S. Department of Agriculture)
What are the best sources of omega-3? (Medical News Today)
The #1 Thing To Eat Every Day To Lose Weight For Good (Eat This, Not That!)
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