By Allison Lansman, RDN
Enjoying everything in moderation is the key to success for your good health.
One of the most common mistakes people make along their lifelong wellness journey is to cut out their favorite hobbies and foods because they may not be as “healthy” as others. However, this approach often decreases the chances of meeting your ultimate health goals.
Instead, increase your chances of success by building balanced habits that focus on health, daily pleasures, and moderation.
Deprivation vs. Moderation
Deprivation is caused by cutting out most engagement in hobbies and foods that please you because they may not be as “healthy” as others. Deprivation in your daily life can look or feel like:
- The need to cut out certain food groups (i.e., carbs or fats)
- An obligation to engage in excessive daily exercise for longer than 30-60 minutes
- Orthorexia or the obsessive need to only eat “healthy” foods
In reality, deprivation is linked to the abandonment of health goals, increased food binges, food aversions, and more.
Oppositely, moderation in lifestyle change urges you to find balance in healthy habits. Embracing moderation in your health choices can be:
- Enjoy a serving size of your favorite dessert 1-2 times a week
- Integrating a 10-minute meditation into your daily routine
- Focusing on re-building your positive relationship with food
Moderate Lifestyle Changes Affect More than Just Your Weight
The discussion of weight – weight loss, weight maintenance, etc. – is usually front-and-center when it comes to conversations about improving your health. However, prioritizing moderate healthy lifestyle changes can provide you many long-term benefits beyond weight.
Unlike excessive deprivation, enjoying everything in moderation focuses on elevating your happiness, which in term promotes sustainable change. When healthy habits are maintained over long periods of time, they can result in easing or reversing symptoms of poor health.
Benefits you can experience from adopting long-term lifestyle changes are:
- Improved mood
- Reductions to daily stress
- Ease of muscle and joint pain
- Enhanced brain strength and memory
- Better immune function (less risk of illness, infection, and disease)
- Healthier aging
Balance Healthy Habits in Your Life
It’s all about balance! Focus on adopting these habits that encourage everything in moderation for a lifetime of good health:
1. Eat a diverse diet
What you eat is very important for your health. It is a diverse diet that provides a wide range of nutrients that your body needs to function as it should.
To ensure you're getting enough of these vital nutrients, you'll want to make sure your meals and snacks contain a variety of different and delicious foods. Such as:
- Colorful fruits and vegetables
- Lean and/or plant-based proteins
- Whole grains
- Healthy fats
If you have diabetes, prediabetes, or just prefer to be mindful about regulating your blood sugar levels, focusing on diversity and moderation in your diet is very important! To avoid blood sugar spikes and falls, plan moderate amounts of complex carbs at every meal (45-60 grams) and snack (15-20 grams).
2. Prioritize foods YOU enjoy!
Be sure to prioritize foods that are enjoyable to YOU!
While trying new foods is great, forcing yourself to eat a specific food because of its nutrient content or health benefit is not.
Regularly try new, nutritious foods while still making room for your favorite foods! Even though they may not be as nutritious as others, you can still add them to your day in moderation.
3. Engage in regular exercise
Moving your body 30-60 minutes every day is vital for keeping you in top-notch health.
A mix of cardio, strength training, and flexibility activities maintains your body’s strength and range of motion. Exercise is crucial for maintaining whole-body health as you age and staving off illness and disease.
Remember – the most crucial part of getting enough exercise is ensuring it is enjoyable to you. Don't force yourself into an activity because you "have to." In reality, any movement is a good movement.
4. Get plenty of sleep
If possible, you should be getting 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Sleep is an essential activity that allows the body to replenish and recover from daily stress.
Not getting enough nightly sleep – especially REM sleep – can impact your internal clock and regulatory function. As a result, you can experience irregular hunger cues, elevated blood sugar levels, more frequent illness, and more fatigue.
5. Reduce daily stress
Stress – both mental and physical – can significantly impact your long-term health and contribute to disease development.
Stress occurs when your body activates its flight-or-flight response, resulting in the release of cortisol, a stress hormone. Cortisol causes numerous changes in the body to manage distress and when your internal stress systems are on constant high-alert without a chance to rest, mental and physical symptoms can occur. These symptoms can look like:
- Poor memory
- Mood swings
- Erratic food cues and difficulty controlling hunger
- Internal stress (i.e., chemical or hormonal imbalances, chronic inflammation, etc.)
Diet, exercise, and getting enough sleep are great ways to improve stress, but seeking mental health care is also essential. Therapy, counseling, or more affordable options, like free guided meditations online, are great routes to stress management.
6. Avoid excess
Excessive drinking, smoking, and even intake of certain foods (i.e., refined sugars, saturated or trans fats, processed foods, etc.) can harm your overall health.
In addition, removing all perceptively "unhealthy" activities that also bring you enjoyment can result in poor health outcomes.
While most habits are acceptable in moderation, excessiveness – including in the form of deprivation – can stimulate poor health outcomes.
To track your success, keep a behavior journal. Log your daily activities to determine your progress and if/where you are still struggling with excess or deprivation.
Find Balance by Enjoying Everything in Moderation
Find health success by building a balance that avoids excess, prioritizes your happiness, and promotes sustainability.
Products from Sugarbreak help you build good health through moderation, not deprivation, as tools to aid in reaching your health goals without eliminating any of your go-to treats! To avoid eating in excess, try Resist to curbing cravings by blocking the taste of sugar. Along with Stabilize, which blocks the absorption of sugars and slows down carb digestion to prevent blood sugar spikes when enjoying your favorite foods.
So, what are you waiting for? Improve your lifetime health by enjoying everything you love in moderation today!
About the author:
Allie Lansman, RDN is a dietitian and owner of Allie Lansman Sustainable Nutrition Writing & Education Services. She is passionate about creating exciting, research-based educational nutrition and wellness content that is relatable, empowering, and attainable for all readers.