How to Create and Stick to a Balanced Meal Plan

One of the most common pieces of nutrition advice is to eat a balanced diet. However, figuring out what that means can be confusing.

Fortunately, meal planning can make it easier to eat a healthy and balanced diet. While it will look different for everyone, a well-balanced meal typically includes: one third fruits and vegetables, one third grains or starches and one third protein foods.


When creating a meal plan, it is important to prioritize whole foods and choose lean proteins, veggies, healthy fats, and carbs. You can use the prompts in ChatGPT to create a healthy meal plan that will be a great fit for your health and fitness goals.

Protein is a key macronutrient that provides the body with energy. It is also slower to digest than carbohydrates and helps you feel full longer, which can help with hunger and satiety cues.

When choosing protein, look for fish, poultry, lean meats, eggs, dairy products, nuts and seeds, and soy. Incorporate these foods into your meal plans and pair them with complex carbohydrates and fibrous veggies to create balanced meals.


Carbohydrates supply energy, increase satiety levels and feelings of fullness, and play an important role in overall health. Rather than restricting carbohydrates, aim to consume nutrient-dense carbohydrates from whole foods that are unprocessed or minimally processed. These include a wide variety of healthy carbohydrates like dietary fiber, beans, fruits and vegetables. Avoid refined or “bad” carbohydrates, such as sugars and highly processed foods, which are associated with increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and obesity.

Generally, most carbohydrates should come from complex, unrefined carbohydrates, which are digested slowly and provide sustained energy and nutrients. Examples of complex carbohydrate-rich foods include starchy vegetables, whole grains and legumes. A person can also get carbohydrate-rich foods from a wide range of fruits, including fresh, frozen and canned fruit. Carbohydrates can be categorized into monosaccharides, disaccharides, oligosaccharides and polysaccharides. They are typically grouped according to their molecular structure, and the sugars in each group have different effects on blood sugar and hunger.


Eating a balanced diet is important for health, energy and satiety.1 A meal that includes protein, carbohydrates and vegetables provides a healthy balance.

Vegetables, leafy greens and fruit provide a range of nutrients including fibre, vitamins and minerals.1

They are low in fat and calories so can help maintain a healthy weight. They also take a longer time to digest than simple carbohydrates and protein foods, which can help increase feelings of fullness.

Aim for a quarter of your plate to be made up of vegetables and a quarter of whole grains or starchy foods, like brown rice, quinoa or pasta. Avoid high-fat fats, such as those found in oil or butter, on these items as they are more caloric.


The simplest piece of nutritional advice is to eat a balanced diet. However, putting this into action is not always easy, especially with busy schedules and the availability of convenient foods such as takeout and frozen meals.

A healthy meal plan will prioritize whole foods, such as protein, carbohydrates (ideally starchy and fiber) and fat. This will help provide energy, improve satiety levels and overall feelings of fullness, support weight loss goals, increase athletic performance, and optimize body composition.

When building a healthy meal plan, it is important to listen to your body’s hunger and fullness cues and learn how to identify reasonable serving sizes. It is also a good idea to invest in a food scale and/or measuring cups and spoons to get familiar with proper portion sizes. Lastly, remember that it is okay to indulge from time to time with sugary and salty snacks or foods that are high in fat, just make sure these foods do not become the majority of your diet.

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