Is Your Eating Life in Balance? How to Bring Your "Out of Whack" Life Into Harmony

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We've all heard about balanced meals but who has time to figure it all out? Balance is so often the key to being happy. Look to the root word to understand. The Latin word for balance is “pondera.” Note the familiar word embedded there. The word “ponder,” meaning to think and reflect with care, comes from the same root word. When we take a moment to consider our actions, our thoughts, our deeds, only then can we bring balance to our lives. Wellness, both physical and mental, is about the journey to balance.

Incorporating balance into your life isn’t hard and it doesn’t have to be all-consuming or all that time-consuming. It can be done in moments but those moments will add up to a happier and healthier you. And, if you are raising children, those moments will create balance throughout their lifetimes as well. You can teach your children a life skill which will literally help them to live longer, happier lives.

Consider something this simple. Picture any given day in your life as a whole unit. Your mission is to create balance in that unit. So, given that you know that a day’s food should include servings of protein, complex carbohydrates, vegetables, fruits and healthy fats, you try to eat “balanced” meals of those food groups. But, for breakfast you’ve enjoyed pancakes and syrup, a meal with more carbs than protein perhaps. So, for lunch, you take a moment to consider what you can easily do to balance that and you eat a salad with lots of vegetables and a good protein source, either low-fat animal protein like fish or chicken, or beans and some nuts or seeds. And since you know there’s lots of sugar in the syrup you ate, maybe you take an extra 20 minute walk today or add 10 minutes to your time on the treadmill. Or maybe you chose fruit atop the pancakes to balance the meal a little bit better. Balance empowers you to eat the foods you enjoy, live without deprivation, and still be healthy.

Maybe you overindulged yesterday and the day got away from you before you could balance that out.  No worries. With balance comes flexibility. Add to your exercise time today and eat a bit healthier overall today. Be mindful of balancing out yesterday’s choices. This doesn’t mean you should feel guilty about yesterday and be filled with regret or remorse. Quite the opposite in fact. Embrace the choices you made yesterday and follow them with considered choices today. Choose extra vegetables and fruit today to balance what you overeat or drank yesterday. It doesn’t mean yesterday’s choices were bad and today’s are good. It’s just that overall, you’re bringing them into balance.

Here’s a bit of balance that’s easy to incorporate into your daily life. It’s a great lesson to share with your kids, too. At every meal, your goal is to enjoy the food, eat nutrient dense choices (lots of vitamins and minerals) and to get the food groups you need for wellness. But, you also don’t want to make yourself crazy or measure portions or count calories. Here’s an easy strategy. Picture your dinner plate as a circle divided into quarters. In one-quarter, protein, in one-quarter, a complex carb (starch), in the other two quarters, vegetables. That’s the complete, balanced meal you should aim for each time. Now suppose you want a glass of wine or beer with dinner? That’s okay, it’s your carb quarter. You want cake for dessert? That’s your carb quarter. You just have to take a minute to choose what it is you want for that meal. Maybe you really, really, want both wine and cake (who doesn’t?). Once in a while, that’s okay too. You can still balance that choice by adding extra exercise time to your day. An additional 20 minutes of good cardio should do.

Would this meal satisfy you?

Take a look at this photo and think about what you just read. You  see the quarter protein in the smoked fish. You can see how the plate is filled more than halfway with vegetables. So far so good. But, there are two complex carb  choices. You can eat the whole grain bread or the apple as your carb choice. Which would you pick? Perhaps you want the bread with the meal and you’ll save the apple for a late day snack. But what if you want both at this meal? Ponder the balance. What if you ate just half a slice of bread and half the apple? Or, you know you want an ice cream cone after lunch so you save the apple, forgo the bread and enjoy the ice cream as your carb choice for this meal. Balance is the key to eating what you want and staying healthy.If you are raising kids and would like to help them start on the road to healthy choices, talk about the menu choices you make. Share the things you “ponder” as you plan meals. There’s nothing wrong with a family trip out for a fun dessert or a night of pizza and ice cream. But when you do make those choices, talk to the kids about the walk you’ll all take after dinner or the night out to the skating rink that accompanies the food splurge.

Is balance important to you? Is it a concept that you incorporate into your wellness? What strategies do you use to create harmony and balance in your life?


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