Carri’s keys to a well-balanced diet


How often do you eat?  How much do you take in at each meal?  Are you getting what you need, in terms of a well-balanced meal?  Do you even know the answers to these questions? 

I can honestly say, a year ago, I’d have given these respective answers:  1) When I’m supposed to – Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner w/ little snacks (or “grazes”) in between.  2) Enough to make me full.  3) Uh… I think so.  4) Sure, I just answered, didn’t I?

I mentioned, last week, about my current (and I hope ongoing) eating habits.  I currently eat 5 meals/day.  The difference between these meals and those of my former self is that I know these are “balanced” meals. 

What’s balance, you ask?  Well, thanks to help from a dear friend, I learned that eating a few pieces of broccoli didn’t count as my veggie.  Eating a few slices of deli turkey didn’t cut it for protein.  And, skipping a carb with my meals wasn’t helping fuel this nonstop mother who teaches group exercise, manages an energetic (to say the least) 4-year-old and has a greater than decent amount of housework and pet management to deal with, on top of it all. 

So, what makes the cut, you ask?  That’s what today is all about, my friends.  (Can I call you that yet, or am I being too presumptuous?) Bottom line –  5 meals;  one protein (turkey, chicken, egg whites, etc.), one carb (a serving of brown rice, whole wheat or Ezekiel (my fave) bread, a sweet potato, etc.), and a serving of veggies, which is, believe it or not, cupping your 2 hands together and filling ’em up (broccoli, spinach, asparagus, etc.).  My last meal, which is later in the evening, a late night dessert of sorts, skips the carb (and… Shhhhh… often the veggie) and looks for something rich in casein protein.  I use 1% cottage cheese almost every night to meet this need. (casein protein…..).   

This is what a typical day looks like for me:

  • Breakfast:  6 egg whites, a serving of broccoli, and 1 Ezekiel English muffin
  • Late AM /Post workout meal: Smoothie w/ greek yogurt, whey protein, and some sort of fruit (I use as my carb because the sugar is ok, post work out) and sugar snap peas
  • Lunch:  Grilled turkey (little EVOO, sea salt & black pepper) on Sesame Ezekiel bread w/ cucumbers and sprouts, and  a side of cucumbers.
  • Dinner: Grilled Chicken on mixed greens with a fat-free salad dressing and a whole grain roll (OK, you got me, sometimes I skip the roll). 
  • Pre-Bedtime Snack:  One serving of cottage cheese and some more snap peas (sometimes… If I eat the cottage cheese, alone, it feels like ice cream, which is my nemesis!)

Fortunately, for me, I’m a creature of habit, so I don’t get tired of eating the same old thing, day in and day out.  My BIG decision in the morning is, “Hmmm, what kind of Tabasco should I put on my eggs – Chipotle or regular?  Unfortunately, but realistically, this isn’t something I abide by every single day of my week.  Weekends are a bit more lax, vacations are a free for all and little morsels, here and there, keep me from cravings that will lead me to total destruction. 

Happy, healthy eating, folks!

Carri Nelsen

Do you have a ‘Wellness Wedsneday’ question for Carri? 

Send it to blogs@thezonemag.com and we’ll try to get your question answered in an upcoming post. 

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2 Responses to Carri’s keys to a well-balanced diet

  1. Shannon says:

    Great article Carri!!! Wish I could do broccoli in the morning!!!! Ugh…
    What is casein protein? I’ve been a vegetarian for 20 years- I’m always struggling to get protein! 🙂

  2. Carri says:

    Hi Shannon, thank you!! Casein is a milk protein. It’s great for your final protein of the day (before sleep) because of its slow to digeset or has a slow/steady release of amino acids into the bloodstream. All in all, it’s a great “resting” protein, unlike a Whey that you’d use in the AM or after a work out. Again, I’m not an expert, but this is what I’ve been told and did follow up by readiong about it after it was suggested to me. Good luck! Protein can be a tough one!

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