How to Build a Healthy Meal

Most of us know the types of foods we are supposed to eat.

You understand the concept of eating whole foods. You know that broccoli is healthier than Butterfingers.

But when it comes to actually making a meal is gets a little hazy on what we should actually eat.

Even though I’m not a fan of meal plans – I do have a quick guideline to help you know what to put on your plate.

what to actually put on your plate

I’m breaking it down into three simple sections to ensure you eat each of the macronutrients. It’s basic AF and it isn’t easy to forget.

Carbohydrates

Let’s start with vegetables. Veggies are not meant to be a side dish. It’s time to start making vegetables the bulk of your meals.

Half of your plate should be filled with non-starchy vegetables.

Since there are a lot of foods that fall under the carbohydrates category, let’s talk about other healthy whole foods that fit into this category: whole grains and legumes. This is not a free pass to fill half your plate with pasta or rice. Make vegetables the star of the carbohydrate category. That’s pretty easy to remember.

If you find you are gaining more pregnancy weight than you thought you would – this is the place to audit. Carbohdyrates, especially refined carbs, can easily be eaten inexcess during your pregnancy. It’s essential to remember that non-starchy vegetables should be the majority of your carbohydrate intake. Crackers, cookies, and refined carbohydrates don’t have a place on your pregnancy plate.

Protein

A palm of protein. Take a look at your hand, in the beginning of your pregnancy, an adequate portion size of protein could fit in your palm. That’s less than most of us think we need.

In the later stages of pregnancy you will need a little more for your quickly growing baby. But for most of your pregnancy just remember that your protein portion could fit in the palm of your hand.

FAT

You need more fat than the current pregnancy nutrition guides suggest. In fact, they are still recommending you should eat fat-free yogurt, this research if frankly out of date. Remember we are always opting towards natural full-fat foods that don’t have any added sugars. Because refined sugar is where the uneccesary pregnancy weight gain comes from.

This is the ‘carbohydrate’ portion of your plate. Notice I’m not asking you to fill your plate with pasta or white rice. It’s fine to have whole grains and legumes as part of your carbohydrates but vegetables

Now you know to eat your vegetables, have a handful of protein, and healthy fats for every meal.

Morning sickness, nah.

Carb cravings – that never happens.

You’ll never eat saltines again, right?

I can feel you rolling your eyes as you read that.

how to actually start eating healthier

be prepared

There are two things you will always find in my fridge.

Cooked proteins and cut vegetables.

This ensures I can throw together a meal in ten minutes or less.

Let’s make five meals together real quick.

As a chef, I make my own bone broth and steam my own veggies.

But guess what, you don’t have to.

I understand that cooking from scratch isn’t always an option.

But you can still start and end with whole foods.

Steaming broccoli seems ridiculous? Buy it frozen and reheat it in the microwave.

You didn’t marinade a chicken breast overnight, grab one pre-cooked from Whole Foods.

Didn’t make your own salad dressing, don’t worry, olive oil will do.

Meals don’t need to be complicated. Most of time I only have a few simple ingredients on my plate. If you can remember the basic layout of vegetables, protein, and healthy fats – you are well on your way to a balanced meal.

what’s in a balanced meal?

When you are pregnant, every bite can nourish you and your growing baby. Try to stay clear from processed foods and refined carbohydrates that offer little nutrients and lots of sugar. Ever heard of eating for two? Instead think eating twice as nutrient dense. Nutrient dense vegetables, protein, healthy fats, and a few whole food carbohydrates.

I try to make this as easy as possible so you can always remember what to put on your plate.

Visualize a round plate, split it into four equal sections, then fill it up with the following:

1/4 protein

1/4 fat

1/4 whole food carbohydrates

1/4 dark leafy greens

protein

salmon/cod
eggs
chicken
beef
turkey
(vegetarian protein sources are not listed here because they are highest in carbs)

fat

nuts
seeds
avocado
vegetable oils
coconut
greek yogurt
cheeses
butter/ghee
half and half/cream

carbohydrates

vegetables
fruit
whole grains
beans/legumes
(try to avoid refined carbohydrates such as baked goods and foods with added sugar)

dark leafy greens

spinach
arugula
swiss chard
kale
collard greens
bok choy
mustard greens
turnip greens

why I don’t do meal plans

Meal planning is a massive effort.

Gathering recipes, altering it to fit your families needs or dietary restrictions, making a weekly schedule, a shopping list, and going grocery shopping – it gets overwhelming before you even start cooking.

Instead of selling my clients meal plans or trying to make them stick to a schedule – I try to teach them what to put on their plate.

So every time they feel a pang of hunger – they can look inside their fridge and throw together a perfectly balanced nourishing meal.

meal prep > meal plans

Meal prep is the key to success.

Meal prep is very different than meal planning. Meal prep is having all of your ingredients prepped ahead of time. So they are ready to grab at a moments notice to put together on your plate.

For example, some meal prepped protein sources would be: hard boiled eggs, cooked quinoa, roasted chicken breast, or pre-cooked ground beef.

How to meal prep vegetables? Buy them, wash them, chop them – put them in glass Tupperware in your fridge.

How about fat? Keep jars of nuts and seeds on hand, have cheese in the fridge, cold-pressed oils in the pantry, and butter out on the counter.

If you have single ingredients prepped and ready to go – you are far more likely to be successful at putting together a meal at a moments notice.

Here are some of my favorite foods to have prepped ahead of time in each macronutrient category.

an empowered plate

It’s far more important to me that you feel empowered to know what to put on your plate.

So you can sit down, look at your meal, and know that it’s balanced, nourishing, and will actually fill you up.

I don’t want to leave you without some examples of how I pick what goes on my plate. Here is a post with ten meals that include all three macronutrients and feature whole foods.

BREAKFAST

breakfast smoothie

ingredients

nut butter
hemp hearts
avocado
protein powder
blueberries
almond milk
spinach

protein
protein powder, some in nut butter and spinach

fat
nut butter, hemp hearts, avocados, almond milk

carbohydrates
blueberries, spinach

greek omelette

ingredients

eggs
half and half
shredded cheese
greek olives
mushrooms
tomatoes
onions
kale

protein
protein powder, some in nut butter and spinach

fat
nut butter, hemp hearts, avocados, almond milk

carbohydrates
blueberries, spinach

overnight oats

ingredients

nut butter
hemp hearts
avocado
protein powder
blueberries
almond milk
spinach

protein
protein powder, some in nut butter and spinach

fat
nut butter, hemp hearts, avocados, almond milk

carbohydrates
blueberries, spinach

avo toast, eggs, bacon

ingredients

rolled oats
greek yogurt
chia seeds
raspberries
almond butter
banana

protein
protein powder, some in nut butter and spinach

fat
nut butter, hemp hearts, avocados, almond milk

carbohydrates
blueberries, spinach

vegetable hash

ingredients

eggs
avocado oil
sweet potato
carrots
onions
bell peppers
celery
kale
herb butter
shredded cheese

protein
protein powder, some in nut butter and spinach

fat
nut butter, hemp hearts, avocados, almond milk

carbohydrates
blueberries, spinach

MEALS

dinner name

ingredients

food
food
food
food
food

protein
food, food, food, food

fat
food, food, food

carbohydrates
food, food, food