Updated: Mar 21, 2018
We are always striving for balance. While sometimes it may seem like a figment of our imagination (especially around the Holidays when we are all pulled in a thousand directions), it really does exist, and it helps us to feel more at peace with our lives and our health. Balance is a funny thing. You may not know exactly when you’ve found it, but you certainly know when you’re NOT using it. To me, balance means knowing your limitations, sleeping and eating well, exercising and bringing my “A” game to work, but not overdoing it in any one area.
Being my “whole” self is important to me being a good spouse, parent and employee. Here’s the great news, balancing your plate is sometimes much easier than balancing our life (and can be a great contribution to our overall balance). While in one short article I can’t help you achieve this mythical Zen that some people discuss, I can assist you in making wiser choices when it comes to making all foods fit.
The goal is to keep the most nutrient-dense foods in the greatest portions on your plate. Many people may be familiar with the classic food pyramids “upgrade” to MyPlate in 2011. The goal was to help people reconfigure the way they view the food groups when using an actual plate as guidance. Fruits, vegetables and whole grains make up three-fourths of the plate, whereas the protein portion is one quarter, which is contrary to the way many people set up their current portions. The amount of the grain group consumed and the quality of the grains on the plate, isn’t discussed explicitly. However, the whole grains council recommends at least half our grains are whole grains every day. In addition, as a dietitian, I recognize that the more active my clients are at both aerobic and resistance training, the greater proportion the grain group needs to occupy to provide energy for both training and everyday life.
Replenishing the body’s carbohydrate stored energy is critical for both health and for helping athletes to function at their best. Whole grains are extremely important to becoming your whole self, and finding ways to incorporate them into the diet is critical for health and longevity! Balancing your plate means finding the most colorful fruits and vegetables to fill half your plate, along with lean sources of protein (beef, eggs, turkey, fish, tofu, beans and chicken) and grains that include all three parts (bran, germ and endosperm) like quinoa, barley, spelt, amaranth, whole wheat pasta, bread and tortillas. Ultragrain® flour can help make transitioning your plate to the guidelines so much easier by adding nutrients, fiber and a “whole” lot of goodness to dishes you already love!
Best of luck finding balance by “being your WHOLE self” this season! Give yourself permission to consume some family favorites and still retain balance and ENJOYMENT of the pleasures of spending time with family and friends!