Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation® Blog - Balanced Bites: How Nurses Can Master Eating in Moderation 4679

Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation® Blog - Balanced Bites: How Nurses Can Master Eating in Moderation


I tried a restrictive diet that cut out my favorite foods, but as soon as I started eating salty or sugary snacks that I love again, I found myself back at square one.

While restricting certain foods is the most common type of diet, research shows it’s not effective in the long run. Restrictive diets often lead to short-term weight loss followed by weight regain, creating a cycle of frustration and disappointment.

If you want to revamp your nutrition and improve your overall health, here’s what you can do instead: Eat in moderation while paying attention to what you consume. The task is threefold:
  1. Allow yourself to enjoy a variety of foods and drinks (e.g., don’t deprive yourself of your favorite goodies).
  2. Incorporate healthy options (e.g., fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and grains).
  3. Control how much you consume (e.g., don’t go overboard).

How Mindful Eating Impacts Moderation
The key to bearing fruit from eating in moderation is mindfulness. Mindful eating fosters a deeper awareness of your hunger cues, emotional triggers, and satiety signals. This empowers you to make conscious choices about when, what, and how much you eat. By practicing mindfulness, you can better recognize your body's needs and build a balanced relationship with food.

Imagine sitting down to a meal, fully engaged with each bite, savoring the flavors, textures, and aromas. That's the essence of mindful eating — a practice rooted in being present, appreciating sensations, and building a profound mind-body connection. Mindful eating invites you to slow down, tune into your body's cues, and approach each meal as a moment of intentional nourishment and joy.

Practical Tips for Eating in Moderation
Let’s get to it. How do you incorporate mindful eating so you can enjoy the health benefits of moderation?

Awareness and Planning
It begins before you ever take a bite:
  • Prepare in advance: Choose 4–5 main courses and 2–3 sides to get you through the week. Create a grocery list and plan a weekly trip, delivery, or pick-up. Designate a “meal prep” day when you cook and stow away the food. Freeze any extras to use the next week.
  • Listen to your hunger cues: Tuning into your body's hunger signals is like having a built-in guide to help you navigate portion sizes and food choices. By honoring these cues, you're better equipped to eat in moderation and satisfy your hunger without overindulging.
  • Examine how much and why you eat: Use a food diary or tracking app to understand what, how much, and when you’re eating. Being mindful of your eating habits and aware of your roadblocks and excuses can help you get real about your goals.

Strategy and Technique
As you choose what and how you eat, keep these tips in mind:
  • Eat more, smaller meals: The 3-large-meals-per-day mindset is still engrained in our society. On the flip side, having more frequent, smaller meals throughout the day can help prevent extreme hunger and overeating by keeping blood sugar levels stable and giving you sustained energy.
  • Ditch distractions: Multitasking during meals prevents mindfulness. Being preoccupied can lead to overeating and poor food choices. Avoid this by ditching distractions like screens so you can focus on your food.
  • Serve and eat your food on dishes: By portioning out your food on a plate or in a bowl, you can keep better track of what you're eating while savoring each bite. That means there’s no temptation to mindlessly devour the entire package.
  • Use smaller dishes: The smaller the plate or bowl, the smaller your portion sizes. When you shrink your dish, "cleaning your plate" means you’ll consume less food compared to when you use bigger dinnerware.
  • Make intentional food choices: You don’t have to give up all your favorite foods. Learn to make smart food choices and simple substitutions instead. Embrace healthy snacks and lean on the power of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to keep you fuller longer.

Mindful Munching
Ready to take that first bite? As you dive in, remember these tactics to practice moderation:
  • Be grateful: Before you dig into your meal, take a moment to express gratitude for the nourishment before you. This simple act of acknowledging the effort that went into growing, preparing, delivering, and serving your food paves the way for a more mindful and satisfying dining experience.
  • Eat (and chew) slowly: By slowing down the pace of your meals, you can better enjoy the flavors and textures of your food. It also helps you to listen to your body’s hunger and fullness cues.
  • Stop eating when you’re feeling full: Don't wait until you feel like a stuffed turkey to stop eating — even if you haven't "cleaned your plate." Stop when you start to feel satisfied. Signs of fullness include a sense of satisfaction, a decrease in appetite, and physical cues like a relaxed stomach.
  • Follow the 90/10 rule: Make sure 90% of your diet consists of nutrient-dense, whole foods that nourish your body, while the remaining 10% is reserved for indulgent treats or less nutritious options. This approach allows for flexibility and enjoyment while prioritizing overall health and well-being.

The goal of eating in moderation isn’t to deprive you of your favorite foods or force you to feel hungry for most of the day. It’s about creating a healthy balance between nutrient-rich foods and the indulgences you love — which requires mindfulness.

The Bottom Line: Practicing Moderation While Eating Is Good for You
Making little changes to how you eat, like having smaller portions and paying attention to your body’s signals, can boost your overall health. While they might seem too small to make an impact, these little steps add up to big improvements over time. Why not give them a shot?

For more information on using moderation in a healthy diet, read about some of our #healthynurses:
  • Matthew S. Howard uses moderation to improve his body, mind, and soul.
  • Liisa Dewhurst focuses on moderation and everyday exercise to instill a healthy lifestyle.

Want to do more? Try our Mindful Eating Challenge on your own or with a friend or colleague and discover the magic of mindful portions — where each bite is a step toward a healthier, more harmonious you.

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Blog Nutrition 03/05/2024 12:37pm CST

Post a Comment or Question


I don't really restrict my diet, but I eat healthy, I will occasionally eat a candy bar or have some fried chicken but not often

ChristiM ChristiM Apr '24

@Virda Swales, BSN Sounds like a happy medium!


41 Posts 6
It isn't easy to find time for healthy eating. One average, nurses consume less fruits, veggies, and whole grains than other Americans. This domain covers recommended guidelines for dietary health, managing diet at work, and overcoming barriers to nutrition.