“All foods fit a healthy lifestyle - within moderation.”
You’ve probably heard the mantra countless times.
The problem with statements like this is that they leave it up to you to decide what “moderation” means. One person’s scoop of cookies and cream ice cream is another person’s pint.
And recent research suggests that people tend to interpret the “moderation” advice as license to eat whatever they want, rather than a reminder to reign themselves in.
But here’s what the edict really means, according to Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesperson Jessica Crandall: “Moderation is the avoidance of excess. When it comes to desserts, chips, and flavoured beverages, I encourage my clients to consume less than 150 calories per day.”
So what’s that look like? To follow her examples, 150 calories would be a little more than half a large brownie, 17 potato chips, or one grape soda. For cookies and cream ice cream, it’s ½ cup.
If that sounds too strict, that’s okay. Another guideline, as suggested by Men’s Health Nutrition Advisor Alan Aragon, M.S, is to set the limit at 10 to 20 per cent of your daily calories. For active men, that’s 280 to 560 calories a day.
There’s also an approach that doesn’t require counting: I tell my clients to think of foods as “everyday” foods or “occasional” foods.
That way, nothing is “bad” or off limits. (Research suggests that mindset may actually cause weight gain.)
If you want a scoop of ice cream, go ahead and enjoy it.
On the flip side, everyday foods are exactly as their name implies: foods that should be eaten every single day, such as vegetables, fruit, lean protein, fish, whole grains - you know the deal.
You’re probably wondering about booze, too. In general, up to two drinks per day is considered “moderate.”
But know this: If you’re trying to lose weight, drinking alcohol - even in moderation - may work against your fat-loss goals. I always suggest skipping the daily drinks to save calories.