Motivation Articles

Moderation in All Things

How to Avoid the Diet Blues

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 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
  • I have tried the 'moderation' rule, but honestly, it doesn't work for me. Take chocolate, or chips: if I stick to just a little portion, I feel worse than if I give them up altogether. I haven't eaten chocolate for weeks but it's not so dramatic. I could never go with just a spoonful of Nutella a day, it makes me crave for the whole jar, if I know I have one in my cupboard. So I simply delete them from my diet. Things are easier when it comes to different kinds of "food temptations", like my number one weakness, pizza: I stick to one pizza a week, no more than that. I can't get distracted by the 'it's just the last small portion I'm having' train of thought: one pizza is one pizza, not a bag of small pizza bits. - 12/2/2014 12:03:10 PM
  • I don't believe in 'all foods in moderation' because there are foods that are just plain horrible for your health.

    Refined sugar isn't evil or bad? WTH? Actually yes it is and the less of it you eat the healthier you will be.

    This journey isn't just about losing or maintaining weight for me. It's about being healthy and in order to be healthy things like soda pop and sugary candy can't be eaten moderately.

    Think about it this way. Smoking a moderate amount of cigarettes is better than smoking 2 packs a day but isn't it even better not to smoke any at all? - 11/17/2014 8:07:50 AM
  • I really really really liked this article about 'moderation vs elimination'.
    For me it is true that I cannot do 'moderation' and believe me, I have tried. I can eat veggies and fruit in moderation. But things like chocolate and ice cream: sorry no, cannot do it. By now I think I will be much better off cutting that 'food' out. - 10/9/2014 2:00:35 PM
  • great tips getting me back on the hike to good health and not weight loss is the answer . - 9/11/2014 10:09:46 AM
  • Great article! - 8/24/2014 9:45:29 AM
  • I have friends who go on "diets", then they talk about how tempted they are to have pie or cake or pizza or beer or whatever, so I tell them, go on, and have it, only dont eat the whole pie, dont eat the whole box of ice cream and dont drink the whole case of beer.
    the craving we think we are having for a food, is really only our minds trying to trick us.
    we just have to play along, and give into the craving, but keep in mind, once you have had a bite or two, or one beer, usually, for most people, you have satisified that need.
    its no different than a smoker who is using the patches or the ecigs to quit smoking.
    they are still getting what they need, until eventually they dont need it anymore.
    same with food, if you just have to have a candy bar, have one of the small ones and eat it in slow, small bites, trick your mind into thinking you have eaten the whole bar. - 7/22/2014 10:16:38 AM
  • about the same percentage of people who attempt to eat everything in moderation also will gain weight back. This proves that making a lifestyle change is difficult no matter what path you follow. - 3/13/2014 3:51:43 PM
  • Having lost 100 pounds, I'm more convinced than ever that this is true. Tonight I plan on going out for dinner for my husband's birthday and I may have a dessert. I haven't had one for a long time, and I'm going to enjoy it, and tomorrow when I wake up I will go right back to my regular habits. The all-or-nothing mindset just does not work for most people. - 3/11/2014 5:38:16 PM
  • It sounds great, but sugar and grain turn to glucose. I for one cannot eat sugar in moderation. I tried for 30 years. Only after eliminating grain and sugar have I controlled my binge eating.

    I may be an exception but effective weight control depends a great deal on learning what is right for your own body. - 2/5/2014 4:03:10 PM
  • I do not buy candy bars, I buy Herseys Kisses instead, for some reason I am better at managing that than a candy bar. I also do not buy 6-packs of yogurt. For me, buy a bar of candy, eat a bar of candy, no matter how small or big. The same problem with yogurt, buy a 6 pack,...: -( I spend more money the way do it, but I know these are my down falls, oddly I am not that fond of chocolate. - 12/25/2013 1:04:21 PM
  • On Friday and Saturday I have a problem on eating the right things. That's at night. Not alot but just to take the edge off. - 10/31/2013 7:45:30 PM
    i really liked this article. it is actually very difficult to give up favorite foods but yes we should try hard. - 10/16/2013 7:26:17 PM
  • For a sugar addict, it's next to impossible to eat a moderate amount of sugar. It's the equivalent of telling an alcoholic to stop after one drink. - 7/24/2013 7:00:53 AM
    I do agree with you on that. Moderation with everything is the key to a good diet plan. However, it sometimes takes a lot of self discipline to stop eating. I know this from experience. It is a good thing that Prescopodene helped me address this concern apart from boosting my metabolism. I'm so happy with the 15kgs I lost that I recommended this to my friend. :) - 6/21/2013 10:42:27 PM

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