Hey Angels and Alphas,
You always hear people saying, “eat everything in moderation” when it comes to weight loss and dieting. But this isn’t as straightforward as it seems, is it?
Because what is moderation, really?
Moderation, in reality, means that no food is actually completely off-limits. All food categories can fit into an overall healthy and balanced diet… but that doesn’t mean they have to fit in all the time.
You have food that you can consume sometimes, such as those snacks you love which are high in sodium, fat, etc. Embracing these foods in moderation instead of depriving yourself will leave you feeling much more physically and psychologically healthy.
That being said, most experts don’t use this term. And some even avoid it completely.
There’s no real definition for the word moderation and it cannot be applied in a broad sense.
Sure, when you’re using moderation as a mantra for weight loss, that’s great. But let’s say you have a medical condition (and your doctor has advised you to lose more weight.) Then the idea of what “moderate” is changes completely.
If your definition of moderate is to have one piece of something sweet every day, but you have a condition such as Type 2 diabetes and eating sweets affects your blood sugar, then that’s not moderate at all. It’s damaging, even.
More often than not, calling something “moderate” can be perceived as a psychological tactic that wants to make you feel better about your food choices. We really tend to use that word when we’re talking about foods that we’re aiming to consume less of, such as fried foods, cake, alcohol, etc.
And research backs this up!
Here’s a study review published in Appetite that found out people who tend to call their choice “moderate” are, conclusively, “justifying their desired consumption.” When people wanted to eat more of something, they dubbed it “moderate consumption.”
Now let’s look at how you can actually make everything objectively moderate and make this “moderation mindset” work for you instead of against you…
Moderation should aim to prevent burnout.
Moderation, in terms of weight loss, can help you avoid the common mistake of eliminating an entire group of macronutrients. It comes into play by serving, essentially as a guide to what proportion of each nutrient group we should be having in our diet. Remember: all nutrients are essential. Moderation can just help you determine the proper range suited for your current weight loss goals.
And let’s not forget, what you think you should be eating (and what you think you shouldn’t) can quickly become a reason for guilt and stress. Stress, needless to say, is a major factor that makes weight loss much more difficult than it has to be.
If you’re feeling guilty for eating specific foods, use the mindset of “everything in moderation” to help you gain a better objective perspective on your choices – not so you can justify your overeating.
So how do we actually eat in moderation to achieve weight loss?
Ask yourself: what does moderation mean to you?
Does it mean eating a piece of cake once a day? Once a week?
When you bring some definition into it, you’ll be able to figure out what this term actually signifies in your specific case.
When someone is trying to apply moderation into their diet, they’re often missing an important piece of understanding of what this means to them. Awareness is key here. Research has shown that people who lacked awareness about their dietary habits reported eating “much more moderately” than what was actually objectively moderate.
What you can do to bring some more awareness into your eating habits is to start journaling… which doesn’t take more than 10-15 minutes a day. And not only will it help you become more mindful of what you’re eating, but it will actually help you lose more weight and maintain it with more ease.
The bottom line is…
The moderation framework that is difficult to maintain over the long haul is not actually moderation and it can lead to unhealthy behaviors in the long term. This happens because you can be tempted to give yourself “permission” to eat more of the foods that you’re so desperately trying to “moderate.” And that’s exactly the mind frame you want to avoid when trying to lose weight.
Moderation, in the objective sense, means focusing on more high-quality, nutrient-dense foods. A diet that’s rich in fiber-packed veggies, lean proteins, and complex carbs will keep you satiated and satisfied and allow you to gain the mental clarity you need to actually control your food choices instead of them controlling you.
By doing this, you’re cultivating awareness, and you’re giving yourself the ability to make smarter, more educated choices on how often to eat, what to eat, and what to do to achieve your weight loss goals in the long term.