What eating in moderation really means

You’ve all heard the phrase ‘everything in moderation’, but what exactly does ‘moderation’ mean? If you were to look at the dictionary definition of ‘moderation’ it is: the quality of being ‘moderate’; restraint; avoidance of extremes or excesses; temperance.

There’s no real science to the term, however when it comes to your diet and nutrition ‘moderation’ is usually associated with not consuming an excess amount of calories or too much of a particular food or nutrient. It’s not exactly specific though, is it?

The amount of energy (calories/kilojoules) you need to consume each day is very much dependent on whether you are looking to lose weight, gain weight or maintain weight. According to the Australian Healthy Food Guide, the average recommended daily intake for an adult is around 8,700kJ, but that can be influenced by your age, your gender, your height and weight and any physical activity levels.

But who the hell enjoys counting calories?

Your lack of desire has led to another term commonly bandied about — portion control. In Australia, where it is said we are in the grips of an obesity epidemic, it’s concerning that many people seem to be consuming well above what they need in one sitting.

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In simple terms ‘moderation’ means you should eat normally with an emphasis on:

  • choosing foods that are nutritious but being flexible and able to indulge in foods that are pleasurable without feeling guilty
  • listening to your appetite so that you are eating when you are hungry and you stop eating when you become full.
  • There are some foods that need greater moderation that others:

  • Fats, especially the saturated kind that you find in takeaway foods or those foods that are considered ‘trendy’ like coconut oil. Be sure to include healthy fats like avocado, nuts and seeds ad olive oil.
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  • Alcohol should be limited to around two standard drinks a day and at least two days a week where you don’t drink any alcohol at all.
  • Cut back to no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar a day. Sugar is often hidden in seemingly healthy foods like low fat yoghurt, sauces and condiments.
  • Cheat days, such a chocolate, fast food, fried foods, ice creams etc.
  • Many over-60s eat fewer calories but are often more active. However, most Australians were found to be lacking in meeting their dietary requirements. Less than 4 per cent of Australians are eating enough vegetables and legumes and are unlikely to meet the minimum number of serves from the five major food groups.

    When it comes to eating in moderation having a varied diet can help you lose weight, control your weight and maintain your health and wellbeing. If you can pay attention to the guidelines relevant to you it can be helpful. Consider how hungry you are before and after eating a small amount of food you can determine how much to eat and ensure you don’t overeat.

    Of course if figuring out moderation is all a bit much, it’s best to sit down with a registered dietitian and/or nutritionist to help you.

    What’s your interpretation of ‘moderation’ when it comes to food? Do you struggle with your weight?