How to Have Balance with Food

by | Mar 11, 2022 | Nutrition Articles

Learn how you can have more balance with food and stress less about nutrition and your eating habits in today’s post.

We all want to strive to nourish our bodies regularly, but how do we have wiggle room and welcome more balance into our lives so we can enjoy all kinds of foods without feeling stressed or bad about it?

There was a time where I had very little balance in my own life regarding food and nutrition. I was rigid, stressed, and chronically obsessive about every little thing I ate, which I talk about in my blog post here. And the truth is, no matter how nutritiously we eat, if our mental health is being sacrificed as a result, then it’s not really healthy after all.

So today I want to share with you 6 ways that we can bring more of that wonderful balance into our lives so we can stress less about food. I want you to nourish yourself — but I want you to have fun with food, too.

What Does It Mean to Have Balance With Food?

Let’s clarify this a little. What does it even mean to have balance with food?

Having balance means both choosing nourishing, nutrient-dense foods and also making space in your life for foods you enjoy for fun, and enjoying this balance without feeling bad or guilty or as though you need to ‘make up’ for it. Balance also means understanding how we can feel the most satisfied with the meals and foods we eat by pairing things together in helpful ways.

So let’s get started.

1. Remember That No Single Food Can Make or Break Your Health

It’s key to realize that one single food, or one day/a few days of eating, does not make or break your health (this excludes allergies or intolerances or medical conditions, of course).

We need to look at the big picture and patterns overall in diet and lifestyle, not singling out that one food we ate on Tuesday. Of course, we want the bulk of our diet to be made up of nutritious foods, but eating some of our other favourite less nutritious foods sometimes isn’t going to ruin our health. You don’t need to eat perfectly or within specific parameters at all times in order to be well.

It’s easy to feel like there’s this “wagon” we’re on that we can’t let ourselves fall off of, but there is no wagon, I assure you. Every day is different when it comes to what we want to eat and what our bodies need.

2. Avoid Intentional & Unintentional Food Restriction

Here’s the thing: depriving yourself intentionally (e.g. saying you won’t eat certain foods) or unintentionally (e.g. forgetting to eat breakfast) is what leads us toward uncontrollable behaviours around food and eating in an unbalanced way as you swing from one extreme to another (from deprivation to very hungry or bingeing).

Make sure you’re eating enough through day and not depriving yourself by allowing yourself to eat what you want! More on this below.

Learn the 10 signs you’re not eating enough.

3. Eat What You Desire

Eat what you want. Sounds simple, right?

The reason why this is so important in the first place is because when we don’t, we’re denying ourselves food and turning it into something that we’re not ‘allowed’ to have. As we discussed above, this makes us feel a lot less balanced and in control of our food experiences.

Eating what you want also helps you feel more satisfied. Having some of the foods that are really enjoyable to you increases your level of satisfaction. If you want chocolate, an apple isn’t going to satisfy you. Or if you want potato chips, rice crackers won’t cut it. More often than not, you’ll reach for what you wanted in the first place anyway.

You might be thinking, “well, if I eat whatever I want, I’ll eat the whole box of cookies!” Quite the contrary. Restricting yourself actually makes you want that food even more than if you let it exist in a neutral way, because it no longer has a strong charge attached to it.

4. Pair Treats with Protein, Fat & Fibre

Treats for you might be chips, fries, chocolate, or ice cream. Pairing them with a source of protein, fat, or fibre will make them much more well rounded and satisfying while still getting to enjoy what you want.

Here are some examples:

  • Pair chocolate with mixed nuts
  • Pair potato chips with some fresh fruit
  • A burger with a side salad

These things will help to round out the food you’re eating so you get to both satisfy your craving while supporting blood sugar and adding nourishment. You may even find that you don’t need as many potato chips (e.g. the whole bag) because you feel more satiated all around.

Satisfaction comes from a variety of tastes and textures also… enjoying what you want.

5. Eat Your Favourite Fun Foods Mindfully

Mindfulness in all areas of life can really go a long way, especially with our meals. In the case of your favourite fun foods, make an effort to enjoy them at a time when you can be fully present with the flavour experience, instead of rushing through it. Let yourself really embrace the food, the flavours, and the experience. Feeling guilty about eating something totally robs us of enjoyment. Be mindful of the experience and take it all in.

6. The Plate Method

This is a visual tool you can use that helps you pair protein, fat, starchy carbs, fibre (non-starchy carbs), and flavour, to create balanced meals so you feel more satiated and experience more enjoyment with food. It’s not at all about precise portion control, but to just give you an easy visual for approximately how you can divvy up the food groups on your plate.

Here’s what the plate method looks like:

  • 1/2 your plate should be fibrous vegetables & fruit (non-starchy carbs): leafy greens, carrots and broccoli, zucchini, cucumber, etc.
  • 1/4 plate should be starchy carbs (e.g. potato, rice, pasta, or squash)
  • 1/4 plate should be protein (eggs, meats, fish, legumes, tempeh/tofu)
  • splash fat (avocado, oils, etc.)
  • and flavour like a dressing or marinade you love

I hope these tips will help you find more balance around food in your own day to day life!

by Meghan Livingstone

Note: this post may contain affiliate links. Learn more here.

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MEGHAN LIVINGSTONE, CNP

Hi, I’m Meghan. I’m a Certified Holistic Nutritionist, blogger, and YouTuber with a passion for healthy, simple living. I’m here to inspire you to listen to your body, eat mindfully and wholesomely, and create a fulfilling life that’s completely unique to you.

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