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Tips for eating in moderation

Published in Weight Management, For the Health of It Author: Kimberly M. Dodds-Thompson, Registered Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator

I am proud to say that my daughter, Kalley, has picked up many healthy habits. She actually doesn’t like eating out because she says “there is too much food.” When she does go to a restaurant, she shares her meal or gets a to-go box. At home, she uses small plates and bowls, eats slowly and drinks a lot of water. Kalley eats small amounts at meals but includes healthy snacks between meals to keep her energized for sports. She reminds me when we are low on fruits or baby carrots, which seem to be her “go-to foods” when studying.

Now, my son, Mason, is a different story. I’m sad to admit he really likes the unhealthy stuff, but he has to have a piece of fruit before he can have another less healthy snack. If I keep the fruits and vegetables visible (at eye level in the refrigerator or in a bowl on the counter), the kids tend to eat them more quickly. If I keep junk food out of the house, Mason eats the healthy stuff.

When today’s eating environment challenges your coping skills, consider these healthful “eat less, eat better” suggestions:

  • Use smaller dishes. You’ll be less inclined to feel deprived if the plate looks full, even if the portion size is smaller.
  • Make the healthy choice the easy choice. Stock your favorite healthy foods, and keep high-calorie, high-fat items out of the pantry or out of sight.
  • Before eating out, look at the menu online and decide what you’re going to order. Order first if you are with a group so that others’ choices don’t influence yours.
  • Eat raw, non-starchy veggies as an appetizer at home before going out to a restaurant or party. Do not arrive overly hungry.
  • Check your emotional state. You’re more likely to overeat when you’re sad, stressed, bored or anxious. If you are feeling any of these emotions, do something else to combat those feelings, rather than eating as a solution.
  • Avoid trigger foods. Let’s face it: Some foods are tough to eat in moderation. Are you unable to eat just a few French fries or a small portion of ice cream? If you can’t control the amount you eat, control how often you eat these foods.

When you mess up, forgive yourself. Have some compassion for others who do the same. Tomorrow is a new day. Start fresh and move on.