Eating in moderation can mean different things for different people. What is sensible for you may not be sensible for me and vice versa. Nutrition texts define a moderate diet as one that "avoids excessive amounts of calories or any particular food or nutrient," but that doesn't really do much to tell you what it may mean for you. Don't fret, we've found some guidelines.
Here's how you can get a better idea of what eating in moderation means for you:
The average American should be consuming about 2000 calories a day. If you divide that between meals and snacks, it looks like 500-600 calories per meal and 125-250 calories per snack.
There are many things that determine your caloric needs, such as gender, height and activity level. For example, men tend to have a higher proportion of muscle compared to women and so they have a higher calorie need. Taller people and more active people also have higher calorie needs. Our calorie needs also decrease as we age. If you live a sedentary life, i.e. you work at a desk all day long, and you want to lose weight, try cutting your calories down to between 1600 and 1800, even if you are working out a few times a week. Watch those macros, however! You want to be eating healthy protein, fiber-rich carbs (such as kale, quinoa) and healthy (non-trans) fats and oils, such as avocados and olive oil.
Most of us have trouble with portion control. Restaurants serve us way too much food and many of us are putting too much food on our plates at home. Americans have become accustomed to consuming large meals, often up to 4 to 5 times the size of a reasonable serving size. Pasta is a great example. A serving should be no more than one and a half cups and it should be served with a green salad but most will eat about 5 cups of pasta and take a pass on the salad. Pay attention to the serving sizes on your packaged food. You may laugh at how tiny the servings are and but you should only ever consume 1 or 2 times that serving size. Eating half a box of cereal for breakfast is not moderation!
You won't want to hear this, but your food portions should look like a hospital meal. As long as it tastes better, right? But think about it, those food trays contain something that all your meals should feature: variety.
There are no foods that contain all the nutrients you need, in the portions you need, so it is essential that you eat a variety of foods. Think colour. A plate full of colourful fruits and vegetables as well as a wider variety of whole grains should be your goal. You may be all over brown rice but try wheat berries, amaranth, barley, bulgur, sorghum, kamut or millet. Don't limit yourself in the variety department. Your proteins should be varied (eggs, lean beef, fish, lamb and poultry) as well as your nuts and dairy. Be creative!
The Take Away
Eating a moderate, varied diet can help with weight loss, weight control and meeting the nutritional needs of a healthy diet. And although moderation will mean different things for each of us, this guide can help you stay on track. Work on your portions by using a measuring cup for the first few days, just to get a feel. Listen to your body and pay attention to how hungry you feel before and after you eat so you can gauge what is enough for you. Keep a food diary, it is an old trick but one that is still around for a reason: it's effective!
If this guide doesn't help clear things up for you, check out our Meal Plan. We tons of suggestions for how to lose weight simply by concentrating on your food intake!
What steps do you take to control calories and portions while maintaining variety? Give us your tips!
Source: U.S. News
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