Eating Without a Diet: Step THREE

            We have discussed the idea of dropping “good” and “bad” food labels as well as learning how to listen to and honor hunger sensations and food cravings. In the third and final step of eating without a diet we will discuss how to find balance in our lives with food! Of course we want to eat whole foods, from nature most of the time! Think fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and low fat dairy. But we also need to leave room in our meal plans for fun foods such as cake, cookies and pizza! A balanced diet is one that includes ALL foods which can be eaten when the body is craving them. We can only know what our body is craving, however, when we tune in and listen!


When considering how to nourish our bodies, we want to include a healthy ratio of carbs, protein and fats. Typically, at each meal we should aim to make our plate ¼ grains, ½ fruits or vegetables, ¼ protein and healthy fats as an accessory. This ideal plate will help us achieve the daily recommended macronutrient ratios of 45-65% carb, 10-35% protein and 20-35% fat which are shown to promote overall health and wellness! A balanced plate also helps maintain fullness by stabilizing blood sugar throughout the day which helps prevent extreme hunger and overeating at following meals. A few examples of a balanced plate may look something like this:

  • 2 slices whole wheat toast (grain), with an apple (fruit) and 2 TBS peanut butter (fat) and a glass of low fat milk (protein)
  • ½ cup oats (grain) cooked in 1 cup milk (protein) with a banana (fruit) and ¼ cup almonds (fat)
  • 2 slices whole wheat toast (carb) with 4 slices deli turkey (protein), lettuce and tomato (vegetable) with a side of 1 cup carrots (vegetable) and 2 TBS hummus (fat)
  • 4 ounces grilled chicken (protein), ½ cup brown rice (carb), 1 cup sautéed peppers, broccoli and mushrooms (vegetable) in 1 TBS olive oil (fat)
  • ½ cup whole wheat pasta (grain) with 1 cup tomato sauce (vegetable) with ground beef (protein) and a side salad (vegetable) with olive oil dressing (fat)
  • 4 ounces grilled lean beef (protein), 1 medium sweet potato (grain/starchy vegetable), topped with 1 TBS butter (fat) and 1 cup steamed green beans (vegetable)

All three macronutrients are important and should be included in a well rounded eating plan! Carbs are the body’s main source of energy. Every cell in the body relies on glucose from carbs for fuel. If glucose is lacking, the body may break down protein to get energy. This is not good because protein serves as the building blocks of all tissues and muscles of the body! If protein is being used as energy, then tissue repair and growth is inhibited. Fat is important as it allows essential vitamins (A, D, E and K) to be absorbed. Fat also is a source of energy, serves as insulation for internal organs and promotes cellular signaling within the body.

Sources of CARBS include:

  • Grains
    • Bread
    • Rice
    • Pasta
    • Quinoa
    • Oats
    • Cereal
  • Starchy Vegetables
    • Corn
    • Potato
    • Sweet potato
    • Beans (black, pinto, navy, lentils)
  • Non-starchy Vegetables
    • Leafy greens (spinach, kale, romaine, arugala)
    • Bell peppers
    • Mushrooms
    • Carrots
    • Broccoli
    • Asparagus
    • Tomatoes
    • Cucumbers
  • Fruits
    • Apples
    • Banana
    • Melon
    • Berries
    • Mango
    • Pineapple

Sources of PROTEIN include:

  • Lean meat (chicken, turkey, beef)
  • Seafood (salmon, shrimp, tilapia, crab)
  • Beans (lentils, black, pinto, garbanzo, soy)
  • Low fat dairy (milk, cheese, yogurt)
  • Nuts/ nut butter (peanut, almond, cashew)

Sources of FATS include:

  • Nuts/ nut butter (peanut, almond, cashew)
  • Avocado
  • Oil (olive, canola, coconut)
  • Butter
  • Salad dressing
  • Hummus

All these foods (plus many more) can and should be included in a balanced eating plan! Getting the appropriate balance of carbs, proteins and fats is the best way to ensure your body is getting the calories, nutrients and energy it needs to function optimally! When thinking about how to eat when not on a diet, considering how a healthy, balanced plate looks can help. Remember though that not every meal needs to be the perfect balance. Our bodies are so smart and eating more carbs at one meal and more protein at the next will all even itself out. After all, listening to your body and honoring what it needs in that moment is always best, but knowing what a balanced meal looks like can definitely help serve as a guide!

-Happy Eating! Kristin- 


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