Moderation versus Deprivation

The term “everything in moderation” is certainly not new and remains timeless. It is applicable to many of our behaviors, such as eating, drinking alcohol, working, and even exercise. This discussion will focus on how moderation applies to one’s eating behavior. Conversely, deprivation as applied to one’s eating behavior is where diets and disordered eating come into play. Most diets are effective at weight loss, however, they do not tend to change behavior over the longterm because of their deprivation tactics. Learning how to eat in moderation, and avoid deprivation, really go hand in hand.

So why eat in moderation?

Learning to eat in moderation will keep you from overeating, result in healthy eating behavior and avoid feeling deprived. It is really a common sense approach to eating. Let’s say you are a chocolate lover. You have made the decision to eat healthier and hope to lose a bit of weight. How do you feel when you tell yourself “I can’t eat any chocolate” as opposed to “If I make healthy choices all day, I can have a little bit of chocolate after supper”. The first statement leaves you feeling disempowered whereas the latter is empowering and gives you something to look forward to.

Through my research on this topic, I became more aware of the breadth of information out there regarding the psychology of eating. In fact, there is even an Institute for the Psychology of Eating. This institute combines Mind Body Nutrition and Dynamic Eating Psychology. The emphasis on the connection between our mind and body transcends so many aspects of our behaviors, and in this case, our eating habits. What happens in our emotional lives can lead to undereating, overeating or unhealthy food choices.

How can I eat in moderation?

First of all, understanding the difference between healthy food choices versus those foods that should be “eaten in moderation” is important. Aiming for whole foods is a good indicator of nutritious foods choices. I will refer to MyPyramid and MyPlate – Harvard School of Public Health for detailed scientific information about our diet and health. The Healthy Eating Pyramid really emphasizes the point of choosing some foods in moderation – not exclusion.

Here are some ways to approach an eating behavior of moderation versus deprivation:

1) Be mindful when you eat – enjoy your food, focus on the here and now.

2) Listen to your body – learn to feel “satiated” not “full”.

3) Do not skip meals – especially breakfast. It often leads to overeating.

4) Do not be tempted by fad diets – avoid dieting, think lifestyle change.

5) Establish a positive relationship with food. It fuels your body, giving you energy and necessary nutrients to lead a healthy life.

Remember – nutritional wellness begins with you!


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