Getting Your Meals Balanced For Optimised Health
Trying to find the optimum diet for you can be difficult, especially with a landscape of fad diets all claiming to make you leaner, healthier, fitter, stronger. Everyone is different and so are their nutritional requirements. What’s right for some, won’t necessarily be right for the next person.
On one hand, you’ve got people who can’t tolerate certain foods and people who adhere to certain ways of eating like veganism or vegetarianism. On the other, you’ve got people who train really hard, those who hardly move at all and those who need to lose or gain weight, then you add to that the active lifestyle managing horses brings and it becomes tricky territory.
This makes it hard to devise a diet or healthy eating plan to suit everyone. What we do know however, is if you eat balanced meals, the chances are you’re going to be providing your body with the adequate nutrients it needs to function optimally. Start with a base, and then alter it to suit your individual food and lifestyle requirements.
Protein is one of the key macros you should include in every meal, as it’s the main component of our body’s cells, soft tissue, skin and hair. Protein is essential for our growth and repair, but it’s also used to make hormones, enzymes, antibodies and neurotransmitters. The best-quality protein foods are meat, fish, eggs, quinoa, lentils and legumes. Aim to include foods that are higher in protein into your meal the equivalent to one fist size.
Carbs are the body’s main fuel and are available in two forms: fast releasing from foods such as sugar, honey and most refined foods, and slow releasing from foods like wholegrains, vegetables and some fruit. Slow releasing carbs are considered smart carbs because they contain more complex carbohydrates and fibre.
By eating slow releasing carbs, you’ll be providing your body with sustained energy rather than sudden bursts, which result in an energy crash. My favourite smart carbs are foods like quinoa, brown rice, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, leafy greens and vegetables such as zuchinni.
Over the years there has been much controversy over fat. In the past fat was the enemy which saw the rise of sugar-laced low fat and fat free products. In more recent times, we’ve come to realise fat isn’t the enemy and that certain fats are essential for the health of our brain and nervous system, immune system, cardiovascular system and our skin.
Women need about a thumb size of fat per meal and men two, making up about 20 percent of your plate. Some of my preferred sources of healthy fat include avocado, nuts, coconut oil, olive oil, and cold pressed nut oils.
Adjusting your macros to suit you
As mentioned earlier, the amount of food and the ratio you consume throughout the day depends on you. However, keeping your macros balanced will help you maintain health long term. Some of the reasons you may want to adjust your portions including:
How frequently you eat
Your health goals
Your appetite and satiety
Your caloric requirements
How active you are
Your nutritional needs
There are several habits I suggest you adopt if you want to adhere to a well-balanced diet:
Choose foods which are nutrient dense
Eat nutritious meals with lots of variety
Consume five portions of vegetables a day
Avoid processed and refined foods
Eat only when you are hungry and stop when you are 80% full
Our online Dressage Rider Training program has more details on nutrition including access to over 500 different recipes to help you make wise choices. So much of riding and dressage is about how well YOU perform, so paying attention to your nutrition is a vital part of the equation. Learn more about the program here.