Eating in moderation is a subjective term, meaning something slightly different depending on your perspective. Moderate, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, means observing reasonable limits and avoiding extremes in behavior or expression. Eating in moderation would be, therefore, eating only as much food as your body needs and consuming only those foods that are not outside the boundaries of normal human consumption. Individual perception of reasonable limits opens the door to a wide variety of complex answers for a seemingly simple question.
Perhaps the most obvious interpretation of eating in moderation deals with caloric intake. Eating in moderation means you do not consume more calories than your body needs to function properly. A person who does not eat a moderate number of calories gains weight, risking obesity and its associated illnesses such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. According to the American Diabetes Association, the average a 25-year-old woman who does moderate exercise daily needs about 2,000 calories each day, and a man of the same age and activity level ought to get 2,400 to 2,600 calories each day. This may be too high an intake for someone with a less active lifestyle without regular exercise. Speak with your doctor about your goals and the appropriate number of daily calories for you.
The quality of the food is an important factor when talking about eating in moderation. Consuming food your body does not need or want, such as excess sugar and fat, is an extreme in behavior or expression in that eating nutritionally poor foods has a detrimental effect on your body. Eating in moderation means consuming nutritionally dense food so your body gets all the vitamins and minerals it needs without harmful or needless substances. According to the MyPlate scheme from the USDA, a healthy dinner plate contains lean protein, whole-grain foods, fruits and vegetables.
Plan your plate to ensure you are eating the proper foods in moderation. Draw an imaginary line down the middle of your plate. Fill the left half your plate with fruits and vegetables. Draw another imaginary line to cut the right half of your plate into two quarters. Fill one section with lean meat and put whole-grain products in the other section. Have a glass of low-fat milk. Relax and enjoy your meal, consuming the food at a moderate pace.
According to a study published by the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, people’s perceptions of their own diets differ from what they actually eat. Adults actually ate more healthy grains than they thought but did not consume enough for a healthy diet. People also ate more fats, oils and sweets than they thought. In this study, the USDA suggests people don’t understand what constitutes a serving. This lack of understanding affects a person’s ability to set reasonable food limits and know when he is engaging in extreme behavior or expression.