What's the best diet? Moderation - Deseret News

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Andie Ovard shares three tips to help with eating in moderation.

As a dietitian, I often get asked about which diet is the best. There are so many other there: keto, clean eating, low-fat, gluten-free and the list goes on. It's hard to know what to do and how to eat to be the healthiest you can be. I've spent many years studying diets, health, food and nutrition and honestly, "diets" almost never work. They may work in the short term but a majority of people end up gaining the weight back, and often even more. So what do we do? How do we eat for the best health?

The answer is simple: Moderation. (See the "Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Total Diet Approach to Healthy Eating" from the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, at jandonline.org.) I know, it's not the exciting answer everyone wants but it's the truth. However, even that can be confusing. So how do we practice moderation? What exactly is moderation in eating. Here are a few tips to help you in your journey.

1. Don't try to be perfect

This is kind of the whole point. You really can't expect to be perfect. It's a process and you're going to struggle sometimes so relax and try to enjoy the journey — the journey that never ends because it's a lifelong journey. So remember don't stress.

2. The 80/20 "rule"

I don't love the word "rule" so let's say the 80/20 suggestion. When clients ask me about moderation in eating I often suggest they take the 80/20 approach, meaning make about 80 percent of your food nutritious, good for you food and 20 percent fun, more indulgent food. This doesn't need to be exact; it's just a guideline to let you relax and realize that it's OK to eat that piece of cake or delicious hamburger. (For more on the 80/20 or clean eating approach, see "Living the Clean Life," by Diane Welland, in Today’s Dietitian online at todaysdietitian.com.)

3. Listen to your body

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This one can take some practice because many of us have spent a lot of time being told by society what we "should" be doing with our eating. So take some time and try to get back in touch with your body because it knows what you need. sometimes maybe it really does want three cookies and sometimes it may actually want broccoli. It's all a matter of listening to your hunger and fullness as well as your true cravings. They may surprise you. (For more information, see "Intuitive Eating Studies" on intuitiveeating.org and "Intuitive Eating" on med.umich.edu/docs/tip-2011/intuitiveeating-0811.pdf.)

Just remember you don't have to be perfect. Let yourself enjoy your favorite indulgent foods sometimes. Listen to your body and enjoy your food. Food is meant to be nutritious and enjoyable.

Andie Ovard is a clinical dietitian at the University of Utah and owner of The Baking Dietitian. Her email is [email protected]



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