Motivation Articles

Moderation in All Things

How to Avoid the Diet Blues

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What comes to mind for you when you hear the word diet? If you’re like most people, you probably imagine eating carrot sticks, going to bed hungry, and giving up your favorite foods—and that's why so many diets fail. Most people just can’t tolerate those kinds of restrictions for very long.

The more you try to eliminate your favorite foods, the more feelings of discomfort, deprivation and resentment build up. This can result in bingeing on all the foods you’ve been denying yourself, undoing all your hard work in a single day. But even if you can avoid that problem, are you willing to eat like a rabbit for the rest of your life?

Studies show that 95 percent of people who follow a highly restrictive diet to lose weight will put the weight back on when they return to “normal” eating again. So what’s the alternative? How do you manage to lose weight without eliminating the problem foods and problem behaviors that made you overweight to begin with?

The alternative is moderation—in your eating and, perhaps most importantly, in your thinking.

What is Moderation?
On the surface, moderation simply means avoiding extremes. It involves finding strategies and habits that can be maintained over the long-term, without cycling between one extreme and the other.

At a deeper level, moderation is a commitment to balance and wholeness. It is rooted in the recognition that each person has many different (and often competing) needs, desires, abilities, and goals. Living up to your full potential means finding ways to incorporate all of them into your decision-making processes and choices.

Practicing moderation in your weight loss program begins with practical strategies, such as counting calories, measuring portions, learning about your nutritional needs, and planning healthy meals. Achieving a reasonable rate of weight loss (about 1-2 pounds per week) by combining a tolerable calorie restriction with exercise is the moderate way to go. Fad diets, eliminating food groups, severely cutting calories and using diet pills are just as extreme as completely denying yourself foods that you enjoy.

The idea is to follow a healthy, balanced, and enjoyable nutrition and fitness plan that you can stick with—for life. There’s no “ending the diet” or going back to “normal" eating or anything that will cause you to regain the weight you’ve lost. When you reach your goal weight, all you need to do is gradually increase your caloric intake to a level where you can maintain your weight loss.
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About The Author

Dean Anderson Dean Anderson
Dean Anderson has master's degrees in human services (behavioral psychology/stress management) and liberal studies. His interest in healthy living began at the age of 50 when he confronted his own morbid obesity and health issues. He joined SparkPeople and lost 150 pounds and regained his health. Dean has earned a personal training certification from ACE and received training as a lifestyle and weight management consultant. See all of Dean's articles.

Member Comments

  • I'm trying to eat small portions and eating slow, so I hope that it will help me. - 5/2/2016 1:33:50 AM
  • Wow....this really dovetails with where my head is right now. Thanks for this article. It helped me cement the idea that moderation is the best tactic to use and helped me understand why my thoughts turn the way they do to extremism. - 5/1/2016 11:47:11 AM
  • My problem with moderation is, once I have say, a Reese's miniature because Easter is a special occasion...that just sets me up for another one, and another. And then I'm eating lots of things that are high fat, or processed, etc. Some things just need to be "I don't eat that" like dairy. I don't consume dairy. Period. (it helps that I don't feel well after dairy ha!) but I also don't eat meat. I don't have meat in moderation, and I don't miss it. It simply isn't something that I eat anymore.

    Maybe my chocolate could be said to be "in moderation" as I have two squares (about 60 calories) of extra dark organic 85% chocolate every work day. To treat myself for staying in the ole cubicle, eh? Or my once a week popcorn with butter. ??? maybe that's moderation. But some things simply CAN'T be on my "okay in moderation" list. They'll just trigger me. Right? - 4/15/2016 4:41:35 PM
  • We can't look at it as a temporary "diet". Serious weight loss is a lifestyle change. you have to get smarter and make better choices to maintain the "new you." - 4/7/2016 4:02:28 PM
  • "The odds of winning by extreme dieting are less than 5%." I am a prime example of that. I tried weight watchers and looked great. I gained it back. I tried the Atkins diet and looked great. I gained it back. I even tried surgery and looked really great, but three weeks ago I weighed 240 pounds again. I hope this article sticks with me, and I stick with Spark People. But I am spending a lot of time sitting at the computer and studying Spark People. Does this taper off in time? Time will tell. - 3/17/2016 10:31:25 AM
  • Thank you! - 3/16/2016 8:12:27 AM
  • Awesome article - perhaps what I've been missing! thank you! - 3/7/2016 1:23:27 PM
  • I sooo needed this article today. I'm working late tonight and won't get to bed until 4 hours after my usual bedtime. That means an extra snack at least. It's also my rest day, so no working out to offset it. It's just one day though. What's one day versus the rest of my life, especially when I'm making a conscious choice and not just eating mindlessly. - 2/18/2016 9:37:25 AM
  • Good article. I have often said, "All things in moderation" however, when I am at school moderations sometimes falls by the wayside. Teaching is stressful. Lunchtime is hurried. Time goes out the window along with good intentions. - 2/4/2016 5:11:34 PM
    I eat on the little plates and and really obsess when I'm tracking my food to show me how much I'm putting in my body. It has really helped me a lot on see how much I used to eat and what I was eating. - 11/23/2015 8:42:00 AM
    I love the balanced approach encouraged in this article. I've maintained an 80-lb. weight loss for about five years now, but it was only when I decided to eat anything I wanted within reason (in the maintenance phase) that the deprivation which so often prompted my binge-eating in the past disappeared. I know now that I can always enjoy all kinds of treats - even the luscious candy bar pictured! - though within reason. I still have to track my food intake (and weigh and measure my food), but what a small price to pay to enjoy the best of all worlds :) - 10/15/2015 7:09:27 PM
  • MYSOTISBLUE53 this chapter is about changing our mindset and eating in moderation...etc heres the glitch for me.....i look at the pictures, click on a link, go to the next page, and what does each new page show me????? That lucious looking, coconut, creamy filled chocolate, mouth drooling, mind melting, diet busting, crazy making, salivation slobbering CANDY BAR!!!! Gimme a break......hhhmmm
    mm......gimme a break...break me off a piece of that beautuful candy bar......have you got my mind drift yet????? Cum on
    - 8/29/2015 9:39:39 AM
    ❤️ This article. I will refer to it often. - 8/21/2015 9:48:38 AM
  • I met a couple of girls at the gym last week. They asked me what program I was using when I was doing the circuit training. I explained it was just the weights I needed on the weight machines but told them about SP. As we were discussing the whole "diet" thing. I explained how I used to weigh 287 lbs. Now 171. They asked how I did it. They commented on how I am now obsessed. What they don't realize is the lifestyle I live now IS in moderation! I eat every thing I desire, drink whenever I want. But!!! I also have a mindset when watching food commercials of what the fat content is in that burger, how many carbs is really in that latte. I have chosen to live a healthier lifestyle, make smarter choices, and be more active. I've been like this for 14 years. This is what works for where are my car keys....I need a taco bell taco please! - 3/30/2015 6:38:52 AM
    I developed an eating disorder and gained a massive amount of weight after engaging in restrictive diets. Recovery from my eating disorder has meant giving up diets and the restrictive black and white mentality that surrounds dieting. I have lost 80 lbs so far, very, very, slowly without restrictions, without eliminating so-called 'trigger' foods. Dieting is a proven predictor of weight GAIN, not loss. If there was one thing I would stress is that you should NEVER engage in restrictive diets. They will probably lead to weight GAIN and can trigger serious eating disorders. No one wants to hear that though. The imaginary dieting bullet has a stronger pull on people than research and science. - 2/22/2015 9:37:04 AM

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