Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Everything in Moderation ... ???

Since I'm kind of on a New Years Resolution kick lately, what with my last few posts being themed around healthy eating and health goal achievements, I thought I'd continue the trend today and discuss the dreaded topic of ...

"Everything in Moderation"


About a month ago, I read an article titled "Everything in Moderation Is a Terrible Rule to Eat By".  At first, I totally took the click bait into the article and read it because I was like - Say what?  No way!  Moderation is key!

But after reading the article, I walked away thinking ... you know, I kind of agree. 

Just look at the opening paragraph of the article:

" “Everything in moderation” is attractive advice, but also a trap. It amounts to saying we shouldn’t have too much of anything, which is true by definition: that’s why we call it “too much.” But the word “moderation” is vague, and its vagueness makes it a friendly, big-tent kind of concept: however much you eat, you can find a way of convincing yourself that you eat in moderation."

Well ... dang.  As much as I like the moderation saying, I guess I can't argue with that statement.  I mean - think about it.  Many people today do not understand things such as portion control, how to make proper meal selections like eating several servings of fruit and vegetables daily, and don't really try to limit themselves on out to eat items like pizza/burgers/fried foods to once a week or less. 

So if people are already overeating in a category, is saying "everything in moderation" really going to help them?

For example:  we just reviewed last week in my Government Dietary Guidelines post that American men as a demographic way over eat animal based proteins on a regular basis, and that sugary drinks compose of 47% of the added sugars Americans consume every day (regardless of gender).  Using this example, let's make up a fictional character named John Doe.

So, John Doe normally eats three times the daily recommended intake of meat each day, and drinks 5 sodas.  To him, what is moderation?  Since that's his daily average, would he consider that moderation? 

Or say, John Doe decides he is in fact eating too much, and chooses to "moderate" himself by cutting back one serving of each item a day, thus reducing himself to two times the daily recommended intake of meat and drinking 4 sodas ... would he consider that moderation?

Thinking through the above, if John Doe is only ever directed to eat "in moderation", at what point does he actually get himself in line with healthy portions?  And will he ever truly practice "moderation" in the way that a dietician or health care professional would approve?

Interestingly, the article specifically addresses this topic, going on to say:

"Nutrition professionals have a specific meaning for the word: moderation means small portions, especially when talking about food that we should eat little to none of. This isn’t the “everything in moderation” that Aristotle wrote about, where we try to avoid extremes of too much and too little. There’s no such thing as too little candy: you can skip it entirely and still be perfectly healthy. Instead, nutritionists use the concept of moderation as a tool for managing cravings. Here’s how two dieticians described it in the Journal of Nutrition Education:
“[T]he message of balance, variety and moderation also can help remove some of the psychological baggage attached to healthful eating in the U.S. It can eliminate “all-or-nothing” perceptions that give rise to guilt, and in many cases, overeating, when people inevitably choose less healthful foods.”
There are some good ideas here: eating a little bit of junk food doesn’t have to derail your diet, and knowing that it’s okay to treat yo’self can make it easier to stick to a healthy eating plan in the first place."

And of course, then they throw in the big "B" word into the article:


Once you give yourself license to eat anything “in moderation,” it easily turns into license to eat anything, and call it moderation. The word has become an excuse, a way to say “screw you, I’m going to eat whatever I want”—all while smugly proclaiming that you live by simple, folksy advice and don’t have to worry about the latest in nutrition science."

And then the article gets even better!

"Not convinced? Think about this: The junk food companies love the concept of “moderation”.

For example, look at the Back to Balance Coalition, made of 18 “leading food groups” that have signed a statement of principles promoting moderation. Their motto: “All foods fit in a balanced diet.”

And those food groups? They include the Sugar Association, the National Confectioners Association, the Corn Refiners Association (makers of corn syrup), the National Potato Council (remember that most potato consumption in America is through chips and fries), the Grocery Manufacturers Association (members include Coca-Cola and Hershey), and the Snack Food Association.

Their statement declares that “All foods can fit within a healthful, overall dietary pattern if consumed in moderation with appropriate portion size and combined with physical activity.” In other words, these groups really don’t want you to say that you should stop eating their food, or that you should think of your diet as unhealthful if it includes their foods."

Bahahahaha!  Sugar and fried potatoes as "food groups".  That's a good one.

Especially copupled with this quote:

"The reference to physical activity is also technically true while mostly meaningless: Sure, you can burn off the calories in your pack of Doritos, but that doesn’t erase the fact that you ate it. We also know that you can’t rely on exercise to keep you healthy if you’re eating crap."

Anyway.  This blog post is getting long winded.  What's my point?  Well, why not take one last article snippet?

" “Everything in moderation” is a crappy rule to live by. But it’s great as inspiration for coming up with rules that can help you in the long run.

It’s true that small portions of junk food are better than large portions, and that you don’t have to completely cut a well-loved treat out of your life. So decide—now, not when you’re standing at the sundae bar—what treats are worth eating and how much you can “afford” to eat without sabotaging yourself.

hoose your treats on their merits, deciding for example whether that slice of cake tastes good enough to be worth a minor setback in your weight loss. You can be mindful of your cravings and create triggers to redirect yourself to better choices.

... If you’re not trying to lose weight—or if you’ve decided that you just don’t care what you eat (maybe this is a stressful time in your life and you just need to get through this last year of school with whatever comfort foods it takes), be honest with yourself. And be honest with others too: don’t dismiss dietary advice with “Duh, everything in moderation.” Instead tell the truth: “That’s probably good advice, but I’m not going to follow it.” "

***Thanks to this article for the above references.  Keep in mind that I only quoted a small segment of that piece - to read the article in full, click here.

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