The holiday season is a time when many of us indulge in foods that we wouldn’t normally eat on a regular basis (especially sweet treats!), which is why weight loss is usually among the top of the list for people’s New Year’s resolutions. While it’s okay to treat yourself to certain foods every now and then, it’s also important to remember that the foods you eat can have a domino effect on your health in more ways than one. Therefore, we need to ensure that we’re eating in moderation – and this is something that we should be doing regardless of the time of year or occasion that’s being celebrated.
For example, if you’re craving something sweet, you can swap the sugar-based treats for foods that are naturally sweet – such as fresh fruit, which can be mixed into Greek yogurt or incorporated into other healthy meals, such as salads, to give it a sweet twist. However, eating in moderation isn’t just about the types of foods that you eat. It’s also about portion control.
While eating in moderation is defined as avoiding excessive amounts of calories as well as avoiding particular foods, this can also be subjective. For example, the average adult and youth aged 13 or older need approximately 2,000 calories per day (or approximately 600 calories per meal), while children between the ages of 4 and 12 need around 1,500 calories per day (or 500 calories per meal). That being said, this may vary from person to person as calorie needs are also dependent on ones’ individual nutrition and health needs, and it’s not always a one size fits all approach. Certain factors such as your age, gender, height, and activity level also all play a role in calorie intake. Of course, counting calories isn’t something people always think to pay attention to, which is why portion control is also so important. If you’re dining out, for example, then you have little to no control over the portion of food on your plate (and these portions tend to be larger) – whereas when you’re at home, you have complete control over the foods you cook and how much of what you consume.
The foods you eat also need to have variety to them, and this is equally as important for nutrition as there isn’t just one food group that contains every single nutrient that our bodies need. While eating healthy all the time might sound boring, the more variety there is to the foods you eat…the healthier you will be. For example, make sure the foods on your plate are colourful – i.e., plenty of fruits and vegetables – as well as also being sure to include protein-rich foods, such as lean meats, fish and seafood, eggs, and dairy products, in addition to whole grains. By eating foods from each of these groups, you will be giving your body the essential nutrients that it needs in order to thrive and keep you healthy.
Including variation in your overall, everyday diet and eating in moderation will ultimately help you avoid overconsumption of unhealthy foods and can assist with things like weight loss and/or weight maintenance, along with other healthy lifestyle habits such as getting regular exercise. Combined, eating healthy and living an active lifestyle can significantly reduce your risk of things like heart disease, diabetes, chronic inflammation, and more. If you’re having trouble finding the right foods to eat, you could also speak to a dietitian who can help you come up with some personalized meal plans and solutions to get you started in the right direction.