Thankfully fads--like cabbage diets and weight-loss shakes--are becoming things of the past! Now fitness experts, nutritionists, and health-conscious celebrities all tout the benefits of eating in moderation. Extreme diets are simply unsustainable. By contrast, eating in moderation establishes healthy habits that can last a lifetime. The practices are simple: all you have to do is eat moderately-sized portions and balanced Food types. Just plan your meals ahead of time, learn to control portions, and get ready to embrace a healthy lifestyle!
EditPracticing Portion Control
- Use your plate to portion meals. A balanced meal consists of 1/2 a plate of vegetables, 1/4 a plate of lean protein, and 1/4 of a plate of high quality carbs. If you are eating a high calorie meal and are trying to lose weight, consider using a smaller plate to trick yourself into feeling as though you are eating more!
- Measure foods when necessary. You don’t want to get bogged down measuring everything you eat. However, if you have a weakness for certain high-calorie foods like pasta, use a measuring cup to determine portion sizes. Since measuring cups will not always be handy, learn shortcuts for estimating portion sizes.
- A balled up fist approximates one cup.
- When you look at your open palm, the portion of hand (excepting your fingers and thumb) is a good estimate of one protein portion.
- Put excess food away after serving meals. Don't leave pots of food sitting on the table or nearby counter when eating. After you dish out appropriate portions, put excess food away to avoid eating multiple, unnecessary courses.
- As a reminder, place storage containers on the counter before you finish preparing meals.
- Avoid eating when distracted. Distractions promote overeating, so don't eat in front of a television or while rushing around in your car. Instead, sit down at a table, focus on your food, and savor every bite!
- Eat as slowly as possible. Eating slowly gives your brain the chance to register feeling full. You often need much less food than you realize.
- Take small bites to pace yourself.
- Put your fork or spoon down in between bites.
- Share desserts to consume smaller portions. You almost never need an entire piece of cake or a whole bowl of ice cream. Share with friends or family to reduce portion size. If you're alone, share with your future self and put at least half of the desert away before you're done!
- Control snacking habits. Don't just open a bag of chips and reach in. Instead, portion snacks by pouring them into small, plastic bags or bento box-style food containers. Better yet, whole foods like carrots and apples make great snacks because it's easy to determine how much you're consuming.
EditPracticing Restraint When Eating Out
- Eat a healthy snack before dining out. Never show up at a restaurant or party hungry! It’s much harder to control your portions when you’re hungry or chatting away with friends.
- Consider snacking on hummus and carrots, yogurt, or fruit and low-fat cheese before leaving home.
- Use to-go containers at restaurants. Most restaurant portions are twice the necessary size. Ask for a to-go container shortly after your food arrives to remind yourself not to eat it all. Before digging into your meal, set a goal for how much to bring home--such as 3 slices of pizza or half of a chicken dish.
- Plate takeout food rather than eating out of the box. It’s almost impossible to estimate how much you’re eating when you’re sharing multiple cartons of takeout with friends. Dish your food onto a plate and evaluate how much you really need.
- Look up your ideal calorie intake. While moderate eating tries to get away from obsessive calorie counting, you want to make sure you have a general grasp on what constitutes a healthy meal for you. The average individual needs 2,000 calories daily, but this can change based on age, gender, height, and weight.
- The US government offers easy-to-use tools to calculate how many calories you need a day: https://supertracker.usda.gov/myplan.aspx
- Plan and prepare weekday meals that meet your dietary needs. Preparing these meals ahead of time will help you avoid impulse snacking. It also guarantees that for most of your meals, you will be able to control portion size in advance.
- You can plan meals using a US government tool: https://supertracker.usda.gov/myplan.aspx
- Or you can try food planning apps like Cook Smart or Plan to Eat.
- Talk to a dietician or doctor if you're considering fasting. Recently, many people have shared stories of success with “intermittent fasting”--eating normally most of the time while severely restricting intake at scheduled intervals. While scientists have observed some evidence for this approach, recent fad diets exaggerate the pros and under-emphasize the risks of these approaches.
- The 5:2 Diet involves eating regularly for 5 days and then restricting one’s calorie intake by 25% for 2 days.
- The 16:8 Plan sets hourly guidelines. Eat normally for 8 hours and fast for the remaining 16 hours.
EditEmbracing a Healthy Lifestyle
- Spend time with other people who eat healthy food. You don’t want to end friendships with unhealthy eaters, but research shows that people who spend time with healthy eaters, adopt those habits. So try to make plans with people who already have the habits that you want to possess yourself!
- Exercise regularly to stay in a healthy mindset. Exercise increases your appetite, but this doesn’t mean that you'll overeat. On the contrary, setting the intention to exercise 3-5 times a week will build your self-control and commitment to good health.
- Make sure to get at least 8 hours of sleep each night. Staying rested will enable you to control impulsive eating. Research has shown that getting 8 hours of sleep dramatically decreases impulsive snacking and overeating.
- Try many different strategies until you find what works for you.
- Consider meeting with a dietician if you need help eating moderately.
- Watch out for drinks--sugary beverages, cocktails, and beer add calories with little nutritional benefits.
- Don’t get obsessive. If you find yourself thinking about food so much that you can't enjoy other things, then you're not practicing moderation, and you might want to consider talking to a counselor.
- Eat Like a Skinny Person
- Avoid the Temptation to Eat Unhealthy Foods
- Control Cravings