Why "Moderation" is Almost Always a Cop-Out

It's a constant chant in the Wellness and Diet world:

"Everything in moderation."

Where did this come from?? My research gives me the impression that it was way to soften the impression that healthy living means deprivation. When everyone started to associate diets with depriving one's self, then "experts" started to say things like:

"A little bit of dessert, in moderation, won't derail your efforts."

This started a dangerous trend in the business of weight-loss: the trend that tells unhealthy people that what they are doing is ok.

No, it's not ok. If you keep doing what you've been doing, nothing will change!

But it sold books and diet plans and writhed it's way into every day conversation between consumers.

I'm not saying that I never eat french fries. But, at the same time, I'm not going to use a term like "moderation" to make it seem as though my choice to eat french fries is part of a healthy life! Honestly, I should NEVER consume them! There is not a single health-promoting element to the consumption of french fries. Since I have acknowledged that, I find that I eat them less often - because I KNOW that I am making a choice that does not serve my health when I eat them. To do anything less is an insult to my own intelligence.

But here's the biggest danger - yes, DANGER - to the "moderation" mantra. Moderation means different things to different people. It's too vague! If you tell a pack-a-day smoker to smoke in moderation, that can mean cutting down to 5 cigarettes a day. Whereas, if you tell me to smoke in moderation, that means NEVER. Dessert "moderation" can mean once a month to one person, and 5 times a week to another. Even the definition of "dessert" will differ: one person might have a huge slice of Junior's Cheesecake for dessert, and another person might have banana nice-cream. These are both completely different choices: one you should NEVER eat (because the human body should never consume dairy), and the other you could have twice a day as long as you keep the recipe based on whole foods!

Finally, the other version of "moderation:" Portion Control. You'll hear tricks like eating a portion of certain foods that is the size of a deck of cards. What??? THIS is just another form of deprivation! It's not sustainable or realistic. Why not instead eat an abundance of food that will nourish you?

One final take-away: if all you ever do is "cut back" or "moderate" certain foods that you KNOW you shouldn't be eating, then you'll never experience the benefits. Even just a small amount of dairy or refined sugar has a huge effect on your inflammation levels and digestive system. If you never eliminate these foods, how will you experience the vitality that comes with removing those side effects from your life?

How to make this approachable:

1) Choose one ingredient/food at a time to ELIMINATE for at least 5 days. 14 days is ideal, forever is best-case scenario.

2) Choose a health-promoting food that you love and find a new way to prepare it so that you have something exciting to distract you.

3) Top foods to look into eliminating from your diet: dairy, refined sugar, meat, caffeinated coffee (decaf coffee and teas that are caffeinated or herbal are all health-promoting), fish.

4) Top foods to eat in abundance, no portion-control necessary: veggies/greens, fruit, seeds (especially raw), raw nuts, tea.

Take Care!

-Jill C.