What Does A Balanced Diet Really Look Like?

Every few decades, a new version of the food pyramid or “my plate” is released. Each new edition has minor changes but looks relatively similar overall. The Standard American Diet (SAD) is full of nutrient-empty carbohydrates and skimps on nutrient-rich fats and proteins. We try to make the carbohydrates nutrient-rich by fortifying them with vitamins and minerals, but these are often poorly absorbed and people still need to take multivitamins and other supplements to be healthy. Diets full of carbohydrates also rarely leave us feeling full or satiated, leading us to overeat.

How Has Food Changed?

Our eating habits are often shaped by our parents when we are younger. This is a HUGE part of why we find such great comfort in foods like mom’s meatloaf or tater-tot hotdish. It seems like everyone has an opinion on what should or shouldn’t be eaten. We are constantly bombarded with healthy recipes, diets, commercials, and advertisements for foods. So what should we all be eating? Food science continues to progress to make hyper-edible foods, or foods that taste SOOOO good that we will eat them even when we are not hungry. These foods are often very high in sugars while being low in nutrients. This is called a nutrient-empty calorie or food and should generally be avoided or only eaten as treats. These hyper-edible foods also make it difficult to control portion sizes and easy to consume an abundance of calories.

Portion Size Changes Through The Years

  • Moderation is the key to a balanced diet. Unfortunately, we have lost sight of what moderation is, and our portion sizes have grown out of control. This article has some great information on portion sizes. Here is a table showing how fast food has changed over the years.
Food or Beverage1980s (calories)Now (calories)
Turkey Sandwich320 calories820 calories
French Fries210 calories610 calories
Bagel140 calories350 calories
Slice of Pizza500 calories850 calories
Soda85 calories250 calories
  • Liquid calories should general be avoided. Calories from juice, soda, and coffee drinks are very nutrient-empty. Drinking your calories also does not signal to your brain to stop eating. When was the last time you felt full after a bottle of pop?
  • The reason most people have success with fad diets is that they adhere to a common set of rules. These rules usually include eliminating liquid calories, reducing overall calories, and eliminating processed foods.

For a personalized nutrition plan for you or your family, call us at (612) 440-5776 or schedule a nutritional consultation online!