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Simple guidelines for a balanced diet

The recipe

Easy Waldorf chicken meal salad!

Here’s a simple, quick and delicious assembly recipe that’s a great example of a complete and balanced meal. From Hélène Laurendeau, epicurean nutritionist


Less than 15 minutes


1 portion


  • 1 handful mixed lettuce (mesclun)
  • 1 handful of baby spinach
  • 1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 small chicken breast, cooked and cut into strips or diced*
  • 30 ml (2 tbsp) dried cranberries or diced apples
  • Some pecans or walnuts, to taste
  • Your choice of homemade or store-bought salad dressing
  • 2 multigrain crackers
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Place the lettuce, spinach, celery, chicken, cranberries and pecans in a salad bowl.
  2. Drizzle with dressing and toss with two salad spoons.
  3. Season to taste and serve immediately with multigrain crackers.

* Store-bought cooked chicken, or simply a raw breast cut in half horizontally and cooked in a small pan with olive oil, salt, pepper, a pinch of oregano and a few drops of lemon juice (omit if you have mouth ulcers). Let cool before cutting into strips or cubes.

Find out more

A healthy and balanced diet is beneficial for people with breast cancer. However, there’s a lot of information out there about diet, and some of it is contradictory, so it can be difficult to make sense of it all and know where to start when it comes to eating well after a diagnosis.

In particular, there are some beliefs that certain foods may prevent or even cure breast cancer. But there are no foods with such powers; it’s more a question of general diet. All food groups play an important role, whether before, during or after treatment. So rather than focusing on specific items or foods, it’s better to concentrate on establishing and maintaining healthy eating habits.

The first step in eating well is to make sure you have a balanced diet. Eating a balanced diet means eating foods from each of the categories, in the right quantities and proportions for your needs.

While a balanced diet doesn’t come down to a single meal, following consumption guidelines for each meal is a simple way to make sure your body is getting everything it needs.

 Canada’s Food Guide can help you adopt a balanced diet, one bite at a time.

The plate in Canada’s Food Guide provides simple visual guidelines to prepare a balanced plate made up of the various food groups in appropriate proportions and quantities.

A balanced plate is made up of at least 3/4 plant foods :

  • 1/2 plate full of fruits and vegetables, for example:
    • Leafy vegetables
    • Fresh, frozen or canned vegetables
    • Fresh, frozen or canned fruit
    • Dried fruit
  • 1/4 plate full of grain products, preferably whole grain, for example:
    • Bread, bagels
    • Rice, quinoa, barley
    • Pasta, noodles, gnocchi
  • You sometimes need to pay particular attention to your fibre intake.

Fill the remaining 1/4 plate with one or more portions of protein-rich foods, for example:

  • Plant proteins: legumes, tofu, seeds and nuts (a 1/4 cup or a portion the size of the palm of your hand)
  • Animal proteins: meat, poultry, fish, seafood (a palm-sized serving) or eggs (one or two eggs), cheese (a one- to two-inch serving)
  • You sometimes need to add more protein to your meals.

What about added fats? For cooking or seasoning, you can use 1 tablespoon of added fat per meal, for example: dressing, oil, butter, margarine, mayonnaise, etc.

The foods shown on the balanced plate of Canada’s Food Guide or listed above are just examples; you can choose a wide variety of healthy foods belonging to each group based on your tastes and desires.

While it’s not necessary for all your meals to be exactly like this plate, these proportions can serve as a reference to help you achieve a balanced diet. You can try to stick to it as much as possible regardless of the meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner and even snacks) or size of the container (small or large plate, bowl, lunch box, sharing tray).

Most recipes for mixed dishes (soups, stir-fries, stews, etc.) can be modified to better match these guidelines, taking into consideration the proportions of the different ingredients. For example, whatever the dish being prepared, half of the ingredients should be fruits and/or vegetables, with at least one serving of protein-rich foods and one grain food.

The side effects of breast cancer and its treatments can impact your needs and diet. Although the balanced plate provides basic guidelines for eating well, you may need to modify your diet to adjust to the side effects of the disease. See our other My Active Health information videos to learn more about diet and breast cancer.

Please note that the Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation offers only general information, which is not a replacement for your healthcare professional’s recommendations.

Your healthcare professional can help you make an informed decision that is right for you, based on your personal situation and your dietary habits.