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What is Nutrition Moderation and Balance?

Body ImageWhitney CarlsonComment

Moderation. Balance. Those are words you probably hear or see a lot in the fitness community. Every one is preaching moderation and balance. What does moderation and balance really mean? What does it mean to them? What does it mean to you?

This is another post that has been on my mind lately and actually in our draft folder for quite a few months. I realized that these were becoming "fitness buzzwords" (we use them too!) but saw that many people were completely lost on the entire topic. I decided to finish and post it after we had ice cream (yes, REAL ice cream) last night in Annapolis. I posted the photo below on Instagram (@heandsheeatclean).

What is Moderation and Balance?

According to dictionary.com:


Moderation: the quality of being moderate; restraint; avoidance of extremes or excesses; temperance.

Balance: a state of equilibrium or equipoise; equal distribution of weight, amount, etc. or mental steadiness or emotional stability; habit of calm behavior, judgment, etc.


What does Moderation and Balance Mean to You?


When someone posts a picture of their cookies - are they just eating two or three? Could you do the same or would you devour the whole bag? When they post a picture of their ice cream is it one scoop or four scoops?

Just like we have mentioned numerous times previously, you are NOT like anyone else. Just because someone eats two cookies per day and then puts the rest of the bag back in the pantry without thinking about it doesn't mean that you have to force or even train yourself to do the same thing. It doesn't mean that they are any better than you or more disciplined than you (or vice versa). We each have our own personalities. We need to learn how to work with our personalities instead of against.

Some people can have a bag of candy or pretzels and only eat that "one serving" or a few at at time. Others can't. It's okay. Maybe you are one of those people who can just eat a few at a time but my guess is that you've tried over and over again to "practice moderation" or count calories, points, or macros to allow for those "treats" but still end up devouring the entire bag. Don't beat yourself up.


The solution? Don't keep the cookies or pretzels in your house or at your desk. Just because you don't have junk food in your house doesn't mean that you are too strict or don't enjoy your life or food (These are comments that many of us get!). There is a place and time for everything - when, where, and how much is up for YOU to decide. 

80/20 Rule

Our overall lifestyle (traveling or not) is 80/20. 80% of the time we eat what we consider clean/healthy foods (lean protein, complex carbs, healthy fats, lots of veggies, etc.) and 20% of the time we may consume food that has more sugar, fat, etc than we normally would.

We never want anyone to feel deprived. You can still enjoy your favorite treats! Just like I posted that picture of our ice cream while we were traveling, we get our treats outside of the house. Order dessert at a restaurant (and split it with someone else), get small portions of your favorite treats while traveling, etc. In that picture, I had one scoop (which is more like two scoops at most places) of cookie dough and Scott had two scoops of peanut butter cookie. We didn't think twice about getting it. We live a healthy lifestyle and have a healthy relationship with food. This doesn't mean that when we are traveling we eat junk 24/7. This means that a majority of our meals are still healthy but we don't worry about what we are eating the whole time (more to come on this topic later).


As always, we want to caution you about comparing what others eat to what you eat. How your body will respond to certain foods is different. How often and how much you can eat will depend on your body. Just like everything else with health and fitness this takes time and trial and error! Maybe you have that "treat meal" once a week or once a month or maybe you do eat that small portion of chocolate each day. How often you need to have it will depend on your personality and your goals. Find out what timing works for you so that you do not feel deprived because that will just lead to bingeing.


Keep in mind that just like everyone has their own definition of eating clean, everyone has their own definition of moderation and balance. Some people think that eating a rice cake with peanut butter is balance. Some people think that eating three scoops of ice cream is balance. Some people think that eating a slice of pizza is balance.

"Trigger foods" will also vary for each person. I can devour an entire bag of Sour Patch Kids in one setting but I don't really ever crave (or even care for) breads or pastas. My easy solution? I don't buy Sour Patch Kids and keep them in the house. I don't care to try and "train" myself to only eat 6 Sour Patch Kids. If I want them, I will eat them outside the house where I can get a smaller portion instead of a large bag (or I will make my "Sour Patch" Grapes!).

Where do you fall on this? Have you tried over and over again to incorporate these "treats" but still end up over-eating? Or are you one that can only eat small portions and leave the rest alone?