Équilibre alimentaire

What Does Eating a Balanced Diet Really Mean?

Are you always hungry? 

It’s 3:00 p.m. and you realize that your stomach is crying out for food? Are you suddenly tired? Hurry up and do something about it. Snack? Coffee? What would give you energy before your 3:30 meeting? This is the third time this has happened to you this week: it’s enough! The solution lies in a balanced diet and in rearranging the quantities of your macronutrients! But what exactly is a balanced diet?

What is a balanced diet?

According to the Larousse dictionary, balance is a “fair proportion between opposing elements, between antagonistic forces, resulting in a state of stability, of harmony”.

If you apply this definition to food, your meals should theoretically be composed of foods from all food categories… And thanks to which you will be able to reach a state of stability: satiety.

To begin with, you need to make sure that you eat enough calories to get all the nutrients your body needs to live at full capacity. Here’s why it’s important to eat healthy, but also to eat enough.

If you don’t have a specific condition, you should eat everything, because all foods provide different nutrients.

  • At the end of the day, the goal of a balanced diet is really to prioritize a variety of nutrient-rich foods!

What are the basic principles of a balanced diet?

First of all, you need to take the time to plan your meals for the week. In short, you need to know what you are going to eat and when in the next few days! The where is optional, but can allow you to include meals away from home, such as at the office or in a restaurant. Good planning will allow you to avoid ready-to-eat and often non-nutritious snacks (you know, the ones from the vending machine!).

Also, you need to have fun planning your meals for the week! If you like to cook, we suggest you look for new recipes. If you’re more of a “the less I cook the better I feel” type of person, start with quick and easy recipes.

In the same vein, take the time to taste and enjoy what you’ve cooked. Homemade is much better!

  • The key word: variety!

    So, eat everything: fruits, vegetables, grain products, dairy products, meats and alternatives, but also little treats sometimes!

Finally, don’t deprive yourself and stop feeling guilty as much as possible. All your life, there will be birthdays, summer vacations, events… So, the best thing for you to do is to learn right away that balance includes all those events and good cakes!

How to know if a meal is balanced?

But how do you eat well? Is your meal healthy? To answer all these questions, take Canada’s Food Guide for example.

Healthy eating is all about having lots of color on your plate. It’s having everything in a certain proportion:

  • Look for these proportions

    ¼ of your plate = grain products
    ¼ of your plate = protein-rich products
    ½ of your plate = vegetables/fruits

If you follow this easy plan, you’ll make sure you have enough energy and nutrients to have a great day!

You can find lots of recipe ideas here for healthy breakfasts, lunches and dinners!

Macronutrients

What does this beautiful word mean? Macros (short for macronutrients) include carbohydrates, proteins and fats.

Depending on your overall diet and preferences, the proportion of each macronutrient may vary. For example, in Canada, the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) recommend the following proportions:

  • Carbohydrates: 45 to 65 %
    Proteins: 10 to 35 %
    Fats: 20 to 35 %

These figures are exactly the same as those recommended by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies in the United States. In Europe, the European Food Safety Authority recommends 45-60 % carbohydrates, 20-35 % fat and has no formal recommendation for protein.

Popular diets

DietRecommended percentage of carbohydrates (%)Recommended percentage of proteins (%)Recommended percentage of fats (%)
Balanced502030
Mediterranean40 to 50 12 to 18 30 to 42
Keto5 to 1010 to 2070 to 80
Paleolithic303040
Flexible40 to 4525 to 3030 to 35
Intuitive eatingVariableVariableVariable
Atkins5 to 1020 to 3060 to 70
Low carbohydrates< 4025 to 3530 to 55
FODMAP30 to 4030 30 to 40
Montignac35 to 40 30 to 35 30 to 35
Weight Watchers45 to 6520 to 3510 to 35
Minçavi502525
Dash55 to 6010 to 1520 to 30
Portfolio40 to 5015 to 2530 to 35

All in all, having a balanced diet is not rocket science! You just need to add variety and have fun eating! The best way to eat is the one you can follow in the long term, simply, without having too much pressure!