Previously, I wrote the “why” behind the Dietitian’s motto- Everything in Moderation. I also paralleled it to how it also works for fitness. But I also know I didn’t answer your most pressing question- how and what does that look like? Such a great question and I ALMOST hesitate to write this blog post because the last thing I want you (the reader) to do is take this as prescriptive. Nutrition is meant to be individual and work with your health goals. Just because something nutrition related works for one person, doesn’t mean it’s the right fit for you! Keep this in mind when reading. I do not know your individual history or story when it comes to your health and/or relationship to food. If you wish to know more about your nutrition or have nutrition work with your goals, then seek out a professional willing to listen and work with you, not just tell you what to do or not to do. There, now that I’ve put my disclaimer out there, let’s get into it.
Remember Everything in Moderation is all about balance. It’s also about variety. And I love this phrase because it embodies simplification. One way to help guide your food choices is by using the myPlate method. MyPlate was put out by the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines 2015-2020. And in my practice, I use this tool as a visual aid for incorporating a variety of food groups onto one’s plate to teach basic nutrition education. I also use another method called balanced plates created by Rebecca Scritchfield RDN. This method considers lifestyle choices and hunger cues. Like myPlate, this approach takes the guesswork out of the equation and eliminates any kind of counting, measuring, restricting, or scrutinizing (i.e. forms of restriction). Why I love this method is because it highlights that your meals (i.e. plates) may not be the same day to day or meal to meal. It factors in that life is meant to be enjoyed and lived fully- not monitored and micromanaged. It honors your body and encourages gentle nutrition. It helps cultivate habits that improve your health without the goal of weight loss.
But what about health you say? Ah yes, normally, this is the time when we untangle weight loss from the definition of health. As for the gym, we are a health gym- not a weight loss gym. Health and weight loss are not synonymous (contrary to popular belief). This is also the moment when I get the deer in headlight look from clients when they realize there is no counting or measuring involved. Yup, ditch MyFitness Pal! It’s doing you a disservice! Here are a few ways a balanced plate (without measuring or counting) is working for you toward overall health:
-Energy: Constant energy (i.e. consistent meals and calories) helps to regulate your bodily systems and hormones. Plus, when you feel better, you have more energy to accomplish your goals (hint hint: if you eat consistently, you have the energy to perform at your very best and optimally in the gym).
-Digestive system: A balanced plate encourages whole grain foods. Why? Because whole grains have fiber and fiber keeps everything running smoothly.
– Vitamins and Minerals: You’ll be receiving all the essential vitamins and minerals from the variety of foods that are on the plate. Nuts, seeds, legumes, fruits and vegetables all provide ample micronutrients. Eliminating food groups run the risk of not receiving adequate vitamins and minerals.
– Mental Health: By not relying on numbers to tell you what, when, and how much to eat you are not micromanaging your body. Thus, you are learning to tune into your intuitive hunger cues. Eat when you are hungry, stop when you are full. Gentle nutrition also means enjoying life and finding joy. This will positively serve your mental health!
Nutrition science is constantly evolving. We are always learning. And I believe, the nutrition field, is moving from “eat this, not that” attitude/perspective which can induce shame and guilt into the understanding and acknowledgement that food is more than fuel. It’s memories, culture, connection, joy and celebration, and an expression of love. When eating a balanced plate or “everything in moderation,” you are in fact honoring your health!