A balanced diet helps maintain health – though I’m never exactly sure how to determine whether a particular meal is balanced. There are the five food groups, and once upon a time the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s food pyramid was used to help balance meals, but that has been relegated to the nutritional dust bin and now USDA’s MyPlate can be used to balance meals. Is meat good or bad? – Maybe it doesn’t matter as long as we follow the current mantra and eat five fruits and vegetables a day.
A hundred years ago cooks also tried to prepare balanced meals. According to a 1919 home economics textbook:
A “balanced” meal is one in which the various food principles are combined in a proper proportion. The “balanced” meal must contain some protein, some carbohydrate, some fat, some mineral salts, some water, and some bulk. This combination or “balance” should be present in all meals both for the needs of the body and for good digestion. In other words, it will not do to eat nearly all starch at one meal, and nearly all protein at the next.
Household Engineering: Scientific Management in the Home by Mrs. Christine Frederick (1919)