Moderation of Healthy Meals Might Save Your Waistline

Contributed by: Amanda Albiar, NCSF-CPT

“Eat everything in moderation” seems like a pretty healthy approach to eating. Trying new foods to open up your taste buds and not depriving yourself of dessert may seem like a balanced approach to healthy eating; however, it may actually cause you to both gain weight and increase your risk of diabetes over 10 years, according to a new study.

Researchers asked over 7,000 people about their eating habits, including the number of different foods they eat in a week, the amount of calories in each food, and how nutritionally similar the foods were to each other. Those who ate the widest variety of foods had a 120 percent greater increase in waist size and were more likely to gain weight than those who stuck to the few foods they knew and loved—even if those foods weren’t very healthy.

All that tasting, it turns out, may lead you to ignore hunger signals and eat more because of it. In the study, people were simply adding healthy foods on top of everything else they were eating. That means any benefits of eating produce and whole grains were overshadowed by the fat, sugar, and preservatives in foods like sausage, soft drinks, and candy, explains Marcia C. de Oliveira Otto, Ph.D., the lead study author.

“Eating a range of quality foods may be more effective in promoting health than the old advice of ‘eating everything in moderation,'” Otto says.

Bottom line: No one is saying you can’t have the occasional piece of cake or bar of chocolate, but research suggests it’s better to eat just a few healthy items than to “moderately” indulge in many treats. Therefore, eating healthy is not necessarily about having an abundance of different healthy meals, but being aware of exactly what you are eating, even in moderation.


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