"Everything in Moderation": Why it doesn't work.
“Moderation is key” or “Everything in moderation” are sayings you may be familiar with. I for one do not believe in this mantra, simply because it fails to help individuals achieve their health goals. Of course, people use this saying to aid them in incorporating their favourite foods into their lifestyle. Now that’s all well and good. Nothing wrong with enjoying a favourite treat.. however, some people can take it as a Hall Pass to over indulge or binge on foods that are highly palatable, that can lead to a series of emotional baggage and potential disordered eating.
It’s a lot more psychological than you’d think..
Let me elaborate:
1) Moderation. Even the word moderation, means not too much, not too little. Moderate. This holy chant can be used out of context. For instance, someone may consume pizza on cheap Tuesdays, perhaps a burger on Friday after work, then a chicken parma on Saturday night (with a few bevs), and then maybe some other form of take-out on Sunday night to end the weekend off with a bang..
See where I'm going with this? With the mindset that, hey "pizza this week.. should be fine, all in moderation!" to "Time to start this weekend with a good burger with the boys.. should be fine, it's the weekend! It’s not like I have burgers all week" and so on and so forth.
Now in the average person who is trying to achieve fat loss or who is just determined to eat healthier.. this enables a sense of being able to consume anything as long as it's not OFTEN. Clearly, you can over consume a variety of take away foods across a week, but it can still be seen as moderation- cakes, cookies, pizza, kebabs, chocolate- the list goes on. If you're consuming a range of high fat AND high sugar foods, it doesn't matter if it’s just a “one time” occasion, if you're just going to have another treat meal not long after that. Once you label it as moderation, frequency of the item is focused rather than occasion. The human body still has to breakdown and digest those meals regardless of diversity. So how is “Everything in moderation” useful?
2) One person's "moderation" can be completely different to another. Essentially, it’s how we PERCEIVE the message. For example, one person's "moderation" could be to have one glass of wine each night. ONE glass a night can be seen as moderate. Now compare this with someone who may consider moderation in drinking as 1-2x glasses a week. Both examples, show that although alcohol is still being consumed, it is still how a person perceives the message. At the end of the day/ week/ month/ year, it has still been consumed. Again, how does the notion of “Everything in moderation” being helpful?
3) Going back to my first point, did you notice a bit of a pattern? Perhaps after one too many drinks on a Saturday night, it's tempting to consume something greasy or comforting on Sunday morning. The problem with "moderation" is that it can quickly turn into routine for many people. We call it moderation, generally to suggest it is a TREAT, a REWARD or something to indulge and enjoy. Nothing wrong with this! but using the the moderation message may backfire into routine for some.
End message: I like to think of it as 80:20. Eat well 80% of the time, treat yourself 20%. Enjoy food, socialisation and celebrations with friends and family.
Moderation shouldn’t be used to justify unhealthy eating habits. On the contrary, there is also no such thing as eating well 100% of the time, you will just drive yourself crazy and feel deprived. To eat well ALL the time, then confronted with treats, shouldn’t make you feel “bad”, “naughty”, “cheeky” or just down right guilty.
So I say scrap “Moderation” and scrap “ Eat well ALL the time” mindsets
Have the occasional treat without feeling guilty or gluttonous , because a) you've looked after yourself 80% of the time b) enjoy the moment, Live your Life, then get back to your health goal/s.
Simple as that.
Until next time,