Balance is key, but what does that really mean? Balance in health takes into account your physical, mental, social and environmental health factors and will look different for everyone. We’re all striving for more balance, but it’s important to start by defining your version of what balance looks like in your personal health, instead of what the media or others are portraying health should look like.
These are some examples of factors that may influence your health balance, which you can think about when determining what health looks like to you:
Physical health- exercise and movement, sleep, eating and nutrition, illness
Mental health- accepting your emotions, resilience, self-awareness
Social health- family stressors, relationship issues, community involvement
Environmental health- your home and neighbourhood, your sustainability impact
I like to picture these factors on a see-saw, if there is an imbalance with too many stressors on one side and not enough positive factors to counteract, you are likely to feel overwhelmed and stressed out. For example, I know when I’m not getting enough sleep, eating out more than usual and not spending enough relaxing time at home, I’m going to feel sluggish and burnt out. These feelings are a sign to realign more balance and incorporate more feel-good factors!
As a qualified Nutritionist, I’m going to expand on the eating and nutrition element in a balanced lifestyle. Balance is all about having a healthy relationship with food, where you can enjoy all different types of food without guilt or shame. The key to healthy balanced eating is learning to prepare and enjoy balanced meals the majority of the time but also recognising that food is about so much more than just nutrients- it’s comforting, has cultural significance and we connect over it. This means eating for both nourishment and enjoyment, rather than just one or the other.
When building a balanced plate at home, aim for 1/2 of your plate to be non-starchy carbohydrates (vegetables), 1/4 of your plate starchy carbohydrates (whole grains) and the other 1/4 of your plate protein, with the addition of healthy fat. Enjoying nutritionally balanced meals will give your body the nourishment you need to support your energy, and digestion, and help you to feel your best.
Here are some examples of foods to use when building your balanced meals.
Non-starchy carbohydrates (generously pack these on!): nearly all vegetables, such as leafy greens, cauliflower, zucchini, broccoli, capsicum, eggplant, carrots and more.
Starchy carbohydrates: bread, rice, quinoa, pasta, potatoes.
Protein: lentils, beans, tofu, eggs, fish, grass-fed beef, free-range chicken.
Healthy fats: nuts, nut butter, seeds, avocado, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, ghee, tahini.
I hope this has served as a gentle reminder about why balance is such an important part of living a healthy lifestyle. To summarise, think about the factors that influence your health sea-saw and learn to prepare and eat balanced meals, whilst giving yourself the flexibility to enjoy the foods you love without the guilt!