What does the word moderation really mean to a Registered Dietitian? How do we as Registered Dietitians keep food simple, stay healthy, and also enjoy it?

As REBEL Dietitians® we take a slightly more rebellious attitude toward healthy eating because we want to make sure it is simple. We have defined healthy, happy eating as including five main pillars: Moderation, Nutrition, Balance, Variety, and Flexibility. These pillars will become the street smarts that you will cultivate during this challenge so that you can thrive outside of the dieting prison. Remember, these pillars are guidelines, not rules.

5 Pillars of Healthy Eating


The first pillar of healthy, happy eating is moderation. Just as any one thing, from asparagus to ice cream, is not healthful in excess, everything can be healthful in moderation. This can be difficult for lifetime dieters to grasp, since they have been taught to place good and bad labels on food. Moderation comes from the inside out: our bodies can help us dictate what we are hungry for and how much we need.
The word moderation sounds so boring to me, but actually it is just the opposite. Moderation means eating with freedom. How would you like to have FREEDOM from your food struggles? This is how Registered Dietitians eat. Moderation means that you really can have French fries, pizza, cupcakes or whatever your favorite food is; the key is that you need to be very aware of when you eat, how much you eat, why you eat, and more. You will hear more about all of these throughout our challenge.

So, I know you are still wondering–how do we, as Registered Dietitians, keep food simple, stay healthy, and enjoy it? Here are 5 nutrition tips to tackle the concept of MODERATION to improve your nutrition. We challenge you to tackle one of these tried and true nutrition makeovers and tell us about your experience.

FIVE Dietitian Moderation Tips:

1.Eat lots of Foods

Moderation does not eating with reckless abandon but it does mean eating many more foods than you probably do now. Yes, most people hear about what not to eat, but we want you to eat more foods! What do we mean? When was the last time that you actually recorded how many different foods you eat in a week? One challenge will be to actually record how many different foods you eat in a week. Did you know that many dietitians challenge themselves to eat 30 different foods in a day?

Can you challenge yourself to eat 30 different foods today? If that seems too daunting, can you challenge yourself to eat one meal with at least 8 different foods?

How is this even possible? You must learn to look at food in a completely different way. If you are eating lots of different foods, you are automatically eating in moderation.

Rebel Dietitian Moderation Tip:

For instance:
a. How about fruit salad for breakfast- you can combine strawberries, blueberries, grapes, raspberries, oranges, pineapple and honeydew melon and suddenly you have eaten seven different foods at breakfast. Add some yogurt and you have eaten eight!

Fresh Fruit in a Fun and Festive Cup

2. Pack Your Lunch

Yes, Registered Dietitians pack our lunches. There are so many lunch boxes in our main office that the refrigerator door barely closes. Why do we pack our lunches? For many reasons, one being moderation. If we pack it, we know what we are eating for lunch and do not have to spend time and energy fighting the lunchtime crowds at the nearby restaurants. We don’t have to think about what we are going to eat, where we are going to eat or how we are going to have to get food at the last minute. This also works for work at days at home. If you pack your lunch the night before or first thing in the morning, you can be assured that your lunch is healthier than resorting to a mad dash to the drive-through or skipping lunch because you run out of time. Plus, there is no risk of super-sizing your lunch if you packed it from home. Not sure what to pack for lunch?

Pack lunches this week whether you work from home, on the road, or in the office.

Let us know how much better you feel and how much money you save. Need inspiration on what to pack for your lunch? Here are some of our favorite ideas to inspire you to pack your lunch:
Six Healthy Mason Jar Salads
Ultimate Recipe Round Up for Easy Meal Planning
Six Healthy 30 Minute Meals

3. Snack-size your food

The food industry realized a long time ago that people enjoy the snack size, individual servings of foods. Research even supports that if a person is given a smaller portion of food, they will eat more moderately than a person given a supersize portion. How did they determine this? Well, using college students of course. They told student volunteers that they would be watching a movie and giving feedback and then gave college students either small or extra large portions of stale popcorn. After the film, the researchers collected and measured the popcorn eaten. The students given the large buckets of popcorn ate much more popcorn. This concept is often called portion distortion.

REBEL Dietitian Tip: How does this translate into real life?

a. Use smaller plates and bowls to portion out your food. Take a look at how different two slices of pizza look from Annapolis pizza restaurants. The smaller piece would look much more satisfying on a smaller plate. Imagine the small slice of pizza with a salad on the rest of the plate. That is how dietitians eat. Pizza in moderation.

Pizza Portions with Moderation in mind

b. Pre-portion out foods as soon as your bring them home from the grocery store. Here is a simple example of how you can portion out your trail mix into snack-size friendly containers.


Portion your foods in advance using smaller containers, plates and bowls.

4. Eat your hand

Yes, size does matter and a larger person with larger hands needs to eat more food than a petite person. Given that, having your hand around gives you a “go-to” quick and easy way to estimate portion sizes. Here is a handy guide available to help you use your own hand as a portion helper.

Pause before plating, packing or eating your food to see how your hand size compares to your portion sizes.

Handy portions for moderation

5. Mindful Moderation

Registered Dietitians are often “foodies”, meaning we like to taste, sample and enjoy food to its fullest, paying special attention to subtle flavors, textures, aroma, “mouth-feel” and eye appeal. Of course, we are also focusing on nutritional value, so the best way we have found to do all of this is to make sure that our food is enjoyed without distraction. We work a lot on this one with our clients during our individual and group meetings. It is very easy in theory to eat without distractions, but it must be practiced over and over (like yoga) until it becomes natural to you. Take a look at this graphic to inspire you.

mindful eating



More Mindful Tips:

Here are some tips to help you eat more mindfully:
a. Print out this coloring book graphic
b. Slow down your eating
c. Take smaller bites
d. Put down the fork between bites
e. Take a breath before eating to settle down and set the tone for the meal
f. Sit at the table
g. Turn off the screen (TV, computer, or smartphone)
h. Turn on music
i. Savor your food

Eat mindfully like your Registered Dietitian works with you to do! Which of these tips above will you challenge yourself?

Taste the Sweet Rebellion

For a more in-depth look at our REBEL pillars to healthy eating without deprivation and dieting, take a look at our Taste the Sweet Rebellion cookbook/workbook to help you break free from dieting prison!  You can also contact us to make an appointment with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist.

Nourished: 10 Ingredients to Happy, Health Eating

And our newest book addresses moderation and intuitive eating.  Take a look at Nourished.

intuitive eating program

Blog reviewed and updated May 2020.

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