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A HEALTHY MEAL CONTAINS THE FOLLOWING 5 CHARACTERISTICS

A HEALTHY MEAL CONTAINS THE FOLLOWING 5 CHARACTERISTICS

WhatToGetMy Instructional Article

A HEALTHY MEAL CONTAINS THE FOLLOWING 5 CHARACTERISTICS

“Meals are like drugs. A good meal will heal you, and a bad meal will ruin you.”

 

What constitutes a healthy meal or diet is continuously evolving. As research deepens about different types of food and their contribution to our overall health, it is increasingly difficult for anyone to recommend a one-size-fits-all food and meal for everyone. What’s ideal for one person is not necessarily suitable for the next, given that each individual is unique and might respond to meals differently. 

What is a healthy meal and a healthy diet?

People get confused about what a healthy meal and a healthy diet is and try to fit in as much healthy food in one plate, hoping they get every recommended nutrient in one meal. 

 

A healthy meal is any healthy portion/s of food we eat at different times of the day to nourish our body. A healthy meal can be eaten in the morning, noon, evening, or anytime between. It is very unlikely that one healthy meal will contain every vital nutrient our body needs. We can only give our body all it requires when we carefully plan our meals.

 

On the other hand, a healthy diet is a compilation of healthy meals we eat throughout a day, week, month, or year for our wellbeing. Every healthy diet should contain seven (7)main components, carbohydrates, protein, fats, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and water, in their right proportions to be considered balanced. In other words, a healthy diet should include a variety of foods. 

 

A practical example of the difference between a healthy meal and diet. 

John’s meals for Tuesday 2/08/2022.

 

Meal 1 – Bread with bacon, lettuce, avocado, and cheese; mango juice.

Meal 2 – Pigeon peas with African oil bean seeds, egg, and boiled vegetables; water.

Meal 3 – Rice and creamed salad; peaches; water.

 

If you pay close attention to each meal, you will notice that none of them individually contains all the components of a healthy diet. However, combining the three meals would give your body all the required nutrients to thrive. 

The characteristics of a healthy meal include;

Since we know the seven components of a healthy diet, what characteristics define a healthy meal? Below are five (5) main characteristics of a healthy meal.

  • Good physical appearance.

The first characteristic of a healthy meal is its physical appearance. A healthy meal should look good/ edible. Food’s physical appearance signals us to eat or stay away. Certain signs give us a glimpse of how healthy or unhealthy a meal is, its taste, and the possible effect on our body. These signs include color, size, texture, smoothness, and smell. For example, we can all distinguish between what’s rotten and what’s fresh. Secondly, when we see meals with lots of oil, we worry about the health risk of eating them because of their high-fat content. 

  • Moderation.

The second characteristic of a healthy meal is that it is eaten in moderation. Moderation is defined in two ways; portion size and serving size. Portion size refers to the amount of food you choose to eat. While serving size refers to the nutritional content/value of the food. 

  • Portion size

Many people can easily tell between a healthy and unhealthy quantity of food. No matter how good a meal is, it can be detrimental to a person’s body when eaten in excess. Excessive eating is the leading cause of obesity in people.

 

As of 2017-18, 46.4% of men aged 40-59 were considered obese. See the chart below. In 2022, 36.2% of adults in America are currently obese.

Source: NIDDK.

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  • Serving size or content size.

Every Healthy meal should have nutritional values in the right amount. Eating meals with limited nutritional content could lead to health deficiencies. For example, eating more carbs and fats daily and less protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber will put you at risk of diabetes, obesity, and poor skin health. Many fast foods we consume daily, like pizza, pastries, snacks, and soft drinks, have a high carb and fat content. 

 

If you wish to eat healthy, start by planning your meals throughout the week. Thankfully, more Americans are becoming more intentional about eating healthy. Check the chart below.

Source: Statista.

  • Good production quality. 

A healthy meal is produced with quality ingredients. We all need to pay attention to how the food is grown or prepared. A few valuable questions that people commonly ask about their food are; 

  • What seeds or chemicals were used to grow and preserve the food? 

While food preservatives help to lengthen the lifespan of a meal, consuming a lot of preservatives is detrimental to one’s health. Research has found that certain food preservatives could cause health problems such as cancer, asthma, weakened heart tissues, allergies, and many more. Most processed/ fast foods and drinks contain preservatives. You put yourself at risk when your daily survival depends on eating processed or fast food.

  • Is the food grown naturally, or is it GMO?

There is an unending controversy surrounding GMOs. The introduction of GMOs in the food sector has done a lot of good in reducing food scarcity and cost. Foods can be eaten in and out of season too. However, some studies claim that GMOs could adversely affect our health. Chemical alterations in GMOs can harm our organs and cause cancers. It is no wonder that organic food sales have grown tremendously in the last five years. See the chart below. 

organic food sales from 2005 to 2021
  • What goes into the preparation of the meal?

Some processes in preparing certain meals strip them of their nutritional value. People end up eating meals that taste good but offer little nutrients to the body. To avoid such a situation, it’s always good to be aware of how meals are prepared or, better yet, learn to prepare your meals.

  • Is the food prepared hygienically? 

Every healthy meal is prepared hygienically. We jeopardize our health when we eat food prepared in an unclean environment. If the food you eat could make you sick, it is not a healthy meal for you.

  • Acceptable to your body. 

The fourth characteristic of a healthy meal is that it is acceptable to your body. Any food you eat that jeopardizes your health or your body finds it difficult to digest is not good for you. Just because everyone is eating it and there is a big hype about the food isn’t enough reason to keep eating something that affects your health poorly. For example, meals made with milk, peanuts, or seafood are not healthy for some people because they either fall sick or have extreme allergic reactions to eating such meals. The food you eat should heal you and not kill you.

  • Ability to sustain you.

Lastly, a healthy meal would sustain your body for a more extended time. A healthy meal will keep you alive and in good health. Healthy meals are fuel for your body. Good fuels will last longer and give you enough energy to handle your daily tasks till it’s time for your next meal.  

Benefits of healthy food preparation.

Healthy meals come at a cost. Either you spend money buying them, or you spend time preparing them. Whichever route you settle for, preparing healthy meals have immeasurable benefits like;

  1. You reduce the risk of compromising your health due to unhygienic food preparation by others.
  2. You’re in charge of what you want in your food. 
  3. You’ll learn new things while preparing your food.
  4. You’ll save tons of money by not patronizing fast foods often.
  5. It saves time and stress. You can prepare meals in advance instead of stressing about what to eat or waiting for orders to arrive before eating.

How to prepare healthy meals.

Preparing healthy meals is not rocket science. You can do it. Here are practical things to know if you wish to know how to prepare healthy meals;

  • Keep an open mind about learning and making healthy meals.

Mental preparation is the first step to making and eating sumptuous healthy meals. Open mind exposes you to new hacks and meals that could benefit you. It expands your options because you will no longer be stuck with familiar meals. You will be more willing to try out other types of peas, grains, and vegetables. 

  • Make meal plans in advance.

A practical step to preparing healthy meals is planning for them in advance. Planning for meals encourages you to shop for them in advance before you prepare them. Secondly, it encourages you to stick to a healthy diet. Thirdly, you’re more likely to include a variety of meals that will balance your diet when you plan your meals. And lastly, planning your meals motivates you to be organized in your kitchen and other areas of your life. 

  • Shop and store a variety of slow perishable food.

Most carbs and proteins are gotten from tubers and grains, which include a variety of peas. Thankfully, most grains can be bought in their dried state and stored until time for consumption. If you want to learn how to prepare healthy meals, buying and storing varieties of grains is important. You can learn how to prepare various grains before you buy them.

  • Take practical steps to reduce excess oil/ fat in your diet.

Healthy food has minimal fatty content. One way people have learned to cut down on fatty food is to use air fryers and non-stick pans/pots when preparing meals that would generally need a lot of oil. You can also introduce measuring items and containers with nuzzles that limit the oil flow in your kitchen. 

  • Focus on maximizing nutrients.

 Preparing your own meals could help you maximize the nutrients you gain from your meal in various ways; 

  1. Reducing the length of time, you steam certain vegetables
  2. Inclusion of certain fruits and foods in meals you prepare. You learn to combine foods properly.
  3. Including healthy oils and herbs when preparing meals.

Healthy dinner ideas.

The trick to eating healthy dinners is to time them properly. Heavy and semi-heavy meals should be eaten on time, while light meals can be eaten much later. It is not a rule that you should eat all your dinners very early. Here are a variety of healthy dinners you would love;

Grilled catfish and creamed salad

Catfish are enjoyed in different parts of the world for their Omega-3 fatty oils that benefit the brain and heart. They are delicious and can go well with side dishes like creamed vegetables and grilled Irish potatoes. 

How to prepare it.

Grilled catfish

  • Make some cuts on the fish before marinating. 
  • Blend negro pepper, red pepper, salt, ginger, a tiny clove of ginger, lemon, cooking cubes, and peanut bars are popularly known as kuli kuli. 
  • Mix the blended spice with a little oil and water and rub it into the catfish.
  • Allow it to marinate for 5mins.
  • Place sliced onions on the catfish and wrap the fish in thick foil.
  • Grill for 20-30mins

 

Creamed salad.

  • Dice Irish potatoes and carrots and boil for 5 mins
  • Dice boiled egg and cucumber
  • Slice cabbage
  • Green peace and sweet corn.
  • Mix everything and add enough salad cream to the mixture.

 

  • Vegetable rice and chicken breast.

If you are not in the mood to make any sauce for your rice, you can still enjoy a sumptuous and nutritious rice dinner.

How to prepare.

  • Wash and cook chicken breast for 15 mins
  • Add salt, onion, and cooking cubes to what you are cooking.
  • When the chicken breast is boiled, take it out and bake it in the oven till it dries.
  • Add washed rice to chicken stock and leave the rice to boil.
  • Allow rice to cool down till there is no steam in it
  • Bring out your non-stick frying pan and add a little oil
  • Add chopped onion and blended ginger and garlic to the greased pan
  • A tomato paste and three tablespoons of water to the pan and stir for 5 mins.
  • Add a little milk, honey, soy sauce, and herbs to the pan and stir for 5 mins. 
  • Cut the chicken breast and add it to the pan and keep aside. 
  • Cut spinach or any green vegetable of your choice, colorful bell pepper, and onions, and keep.
  • Heat a greased non-stick pot and add chopped onion, bell pepper, and vegetable to the pot. Stir for 5-10 mins, depending on the quantity and type of vegetable you use.
  • Add boiled rice and the chicken mixture to the pot, stir and taste for salt.
  • Leave it for 3 – 5 mins, and then remove it from the fire.

 

  • Butternut, potatoes, chicken, and vegetables.

This is one of the easiest and light dinners to make.

How to prepare it.

  • Pill butternut and potatoes and dice into little cubes
  • Grease the baking pan and put diced butternut and potatoes.
  • Add chopped onions, garlic, pepper, herbs, and carrot to the pan.
  • Bake for an hour. Keep stirring the mixture every 15 mins to avoid burning. 
  • You can add a little water mixed with oil if the pan is getting too dry. 
  • Spice the chicken and boil it properly with very little water. 
  • Add soy sauce, a tablespoon of lemon juice, little wine, ginger, and garlic when the chicken boils.
  • Remove the chicken from the mixture and add broccoli, spinach, onion, and bell pepper. 
  • Stir for 5 mins and turn off your cooker.

Frequently Asked Question.

  • What are the five characteristics of a healthy meal?

  • Has a good physical appearance
  • Eaten in moderation
  • Quality in production
  • Accepted by a person’s body
  • It can sustain you till the next meal.

 

  • What are the seven components of a balanced diet?

  • Carbohydrate, 
  • Protein, 
  • Fats, 
  • Vitamins, 
  • Minerals, 
  • Fiber and, 
  • Water.

Conclusion.

When you plan healthy meals, you’ll achieve a healthy diet.

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