What Does It Mean To Eat In Moderation?

Eating in moderation is a phrase commonly used to refer to a non-restrictive yet healthy and well-balanced diet. For example, someone who eats in moderation maintains a healthy and nutritious diet without completely depriving themselves of comfort foods and sweets (via Columbia University). For many people, however, this is a rather ambiguous phrase, since there is no scientific or universal definition of "moderate" when it comes to foods and portion size.

While Columbia University defines moderation as "the avoidance of excess," what one person considers "excess" may not be the same as someone else's idea of excess. Beyond just sticking to the serving size, eating in moderation can be subjective, especially when taking outside factors into account, like gender, age, height, and activity level (via U.S. News & World Report). As a result, many people looking to maintain or lose weight and follow a healthy diet understand the basic principle of eating in moderation, but are unsure of what that specifically looks like for them.

Follow the 90/10 approach

According to Woman's Day, one way to eat in moderation is to follow a 90/10 approach. This means that 90% of your diet consists of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats, and the other 10% is reserved for foods like pizza and ice cream. If you're counting calories, this looks like 150 to 200 calories per treat or snack. Although most of your calories should come from nutritious meals and snacks, you don't have to completely avoid less nutritious foods to still maintain a healthy and well-balanced diet.

In addition, eating in moderation also means eating reasonable portions during your three main meals, which can differ quite a bit from the portion sizes served at restaurants (via U.S. News & World Report). For instance, a plate of pasta at a restaurant usually consists of 4 to 6 cups per serving. However, a reasonable portion is more like 1 to 1.5 cups per serving, alongside a healthy salad.