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Published on December 20, 2017

woman eating yogurt

What does moderation even mean?

"Enjoy in moderation."

This phrase is vague and can be interpreted many different ways. So what does it really mean? Moderation can be broken down into the following ideas:

Eat until you're satisfied, not stuffed
Your body has a built-in fuel gauge called hunger. When you are extremely hungry you are "coasting on fumes"and not giving your body the energy it needs. When you are full, your body is telling you that no more fuel is required. Keep your body energized by not letting yourself get very hungry or starving and avoid overfilling your tank by not eating after you are full.

Eat a variety of foods
Eating a variety of foods ensures you will get the nutrients your body needs. Your food choices can also affect hunger. Meals that contain fiber (whole grains, fruits, vegetables, etc.) and protein (bean, eggs, nuts, etc.) help you feel full more quickly than meals lacking these nutrients. If you eat meals that contain mostly refined carbohydrates (white rice, white bread, instant mashed potatoes, etc.) you may end up consuming more fuel than you really need before you feel full.

Eat because you're actually hungry (at least most of the time)
In our culture we eat for hunger, but we also eat to celebrate, out of boredom and to cope with stress. When you eat for hunger, you are respecting your body and you are unlikely to consume excess food. When social and emotion eating overrides your body's natural hunger and fullness signals you are more likely to consume unneeded food. Because food has strong social and emotion ties we recommend eating for fuel 80 percent of the time and eating for other reasons 20 percent of the time.

Put it into practice!

  • Eat meals that contain three to five food groups most of the time.
  • Before you snack ask yourself "Am I hungry?"
  • If you are eating for a reason other than hunger find a distraction or a different way to cope.
  • Be selective about which treats you choose and avoid eating until you feel stuffed. For example if you know there will be a special dessert available that you want to try, don't overeat at your meal. Save room for dessert!
Love + Medicine

Every day, Gundersen Health System delivers great medicine plus a little something extra—we call it Love + Medicine.

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