Those 3 words: All In Moderation

All in moderation. We have all heard these 3 words. It’s like a synonym for balance isn’t it? Having a balanced meal is having the food you want but in moderation, right? It is usually my quick answer to someone that asks for a diet or nutritional advice when I am out and they find out that I am a dietitian. “All in moderation.” You want a quick fix? I’ll give you a quick answer. But although it is short and sweet, it is definitely not a quick fix and it is definitely not a diet either. It is a lifestyle. 

When I work with clients, I don’t usually hand them a meal plan and send them on their way. I know that that is what some people want and some will actually follow it but for the vast majority of Americans, we don’t follow the same schedule every day. Life gets crazy, and its hard to eat your previously planned, organic, gluten-free, grilled chicken and fresh veggies with a side of quinoa that you didn’t think even sounded good in the first place. So instead, how about finding out what you are already eating and go from there. Is there anything you can do without? Can you try diet soda instead of regular? What are some healthier alternatives? There are so many questions to be asked but the goal is to find something that works FOR YOU. To find something that you like or may even already be eating but need to learn portion control. 

Portion control is what so many people struggle with and is usually the missing piece in figuring out how to lose weight or maintain where you are. Some people may eat extremely healthy foods, but may eat too much of it and are frustrated because they cannot seem to lose weight. With the holiday season well on it’s way it is smart to learn portion control to avoid gaining weight with all the family get-togethers and work parties. What are some ways to better practice portion control?

Here are some of my tips to help you have a more “all in moderation” kind of lifestyle...

1. Start a food journal.

The best way to know what you are doing is by documenting your daily intake. Seeing what you are eating helps you to be more aware of the food you are taking in when you are busy and may not even realize how much you are actually consuming. Daily journaling may even tell you that you are not eating enough which can also halt the weight loss. This journal helps you become more self-aware and can also help the dietitian you may be working with see what your usual daily intake looks like so they know how to better help you and understand what may be going on! This does not have to be a forever thing but it makes for a good start. 

2. Learn your portion size

 Learning how to properly portion out your food may be the answer to all your weight loss prayers. It takes more than learning though, you also have to have the self control to stick to the proper portion size (and we all know that is the hardest part). Most of our problems with portion control are from eating out because we are served three times the amount of an appropriate portion size. That is why you have to start from scratch and first learn what your portion should actually look like so you can avoid eating 2000 calories with each meal and start eating 2000 calories for each day. 

3. Have measuring cups on hand at all time

One of the best ways to practice proper portion sizes is by using a measuring cup as your serving utensil. This is how I had to start and I still use them on a daily basis. I use my measuring cups mostly for my starches (my pastas, mashed potatoes, rice, beans, quinoa, oatmeal, cereal, etc.) Starches, which are the concentrated carbohydrates, are usually the food group that people over eat (especially here in the South). Dishing out the proper portion size for these starches with measuring cups helps me not to overindulge myself (and can save room for a little dessert). You can use them for all your food groups just to get a handle on what a serving size should actually look like. This will also help you when eating out so that you know how much you should eat without overdoing it. 

4. Start eating off a 6 inch plate instead of an 8 inch plate. 

Like everything else in America, it seems like plates just keep getting bigger.  Downsizing your plate not only helps you with portion control but helps when our mind is not okay with what our 8 inch plate looks like after dishing out the right amount. The trick is to try not to go back for seconds (I am guilty of this too, don’t you worry).

5. Practice the MyPlate

The MyPlate is the Academy of Nutrition and Dietitetics’ new version of the Mypyramid (if any of you remember that little diagram). The MyPyramid was a tool to show you all the food groups and how many servings of each group we should be eating daily. In my opinion, the MyPlate is way more practical and useful for all ages. It illustrates the 5 food groups and how to include them in your meal. I use this tool with all of my clients because it is the best way to show that you can have ALL FOOD GROUPS within the appropriate portion size. The MyPlate demonstrates eating off a 6 inch plate, making half of your plate your (non starchy) vegetables and fruit, a quarter of your plate is your grains (or your starchy vegetables), the other quarter of your plate is your protein, and a side of dairy. 

Get a head start before all the New Year’s resolutions, making changes now! Start by being realistic. There are so many temptations during the holiday season and so much access to all the high fat, high sugar, and high carb foods. Let’s not deprive ourselves by not having any of these amazing goodies (because we all know that doesn't work well), let’s just learn how to practice good portion control. IT'S ALL ABOUT MODERATION!

For more information on the MyPlate go to