Thinking Moderation? Think Again!!

I graduated from Nutrition and Dietetics school with the “Everything in moderation” mentality, and I guess it’s the same for most nutrition students or anyone who has sat in Nutrition 101. So that sentence just got stuck with me and was the most repeated in social gatherings, with friends and clients. Until recently, that is. Whenever someone used to ask me about how I stay fit, I was quick to answer that I exercise and eat everything in moderation. Actually, that was not very accurate. I was pretty much a clean eater with one or two guilt-free indulgences per week if any. And as I started enjoying myself in the kitchen, I loved cooking pretty much everything from scratch. It was some kind of therapy for me, and I always felt proud of the end-product. Why buy it in a jar if you can make it at home? Of course, not all my attempts were successful but nonetheless the sense of accomplishment was always there. And then there were the occasional slips where bingeing on fast food and processed goods was the only way to go.

Was that moderation? That’s what I thought until a few days ago when I was reading about Monsanto, the biotechnology giant and their very well-played food politics in the genetic modification field. Seriously, they’re evil good! They even made a children’s activity book devoted to make them believe that biotechnology is a wonderful thing. How sick is that? The other news I was checking was the Food and Drug Association (FDA) non-approved Bisphenol-A (BPA) ban. The FDA claimed more research is needed. So even though research linked BPA exposure to many health problems from cancers, to metabolic and reproductive disorders, the responsibility lies totally on the consumer to choose from the thousands of products out there.

What do these topics have to do with moderation you say? Well, maternal instincts started kicking in as I was thinking about my baby girl and how I was going to teach her good eating habits that will last her a lifetime even though she will be bombarded with high-sugar, highly-processed, genetically-modified, BPA-exposed junk as soon as she steps outside the house. What shall I tell her? That it’s OK to have all these foods as long as it’s in moderation? That it’s OK to get poison and toxins in your body but just in moderation? We’ve established in a previous post that the body can cleanse itself via various mechanisms without needing to resort to detox diets. But are we giving it a chance to do so?

That’s when I started pondering about the “moderation term”. I am not an extremist in nature; not in my political views, or religious views…, so “in moderation” kind of made sense. Up until now. I wonder why it hadn’t occurred to me before. You never tell anyone it’s fine to smoke, just do it in moderation. So why is it acceptable with food? The moderation mentality with food is making us sick, making us fat, making us accepting of poisonous addictive behaviors and habits. That’s because whenever we are subjected to a bad food option, we just convince ourselves that if it’s just in moderation then it must be OK.

So just in food and for your health, be extreme!

  • Adopt a clean diet and by clean I mean foods that are the least processed and closer to their natural state. You don’t see a list of ingredients on a banana!
  • Adopt a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables in their natural form (not packaged fruit juices and jams), lean proteins including beans and legumes, whole grains and healthy fats such as olive oil and avocados.
  • Consume raw, unsalted nuts (walnuts, almonds, macadamia, pistachios,…) and seeds (pumpkin, sunflower,…)
  • Stay away from fried foods and high-sugar, calorie-dense treats such as chips, soda drinks, candies, doughnuts,…
  • Reduce your exposure to BPA by avoiding canned foods and beverages.
  • Choose products made from non-genetically modified organisms (non-GMO).
  • Avoid foods with preservatives, artificial colorings and flavorings. Read the food labels well. Anyway, if you are not consuming highly processed foods, you are pretty much avoiding these perils.
  • Enjoy a treat or two per week but not more, be it chocolate or a glass of wine.
  • The last but maybe most important tip is cooking at home. That way, you’re in control over what goes into your food.

Food industry giants have been and still are paying billions of dollars in marketing in order to persuade us and our children that what they are selling is good for us or at least does not cause us or the environment any harm. They take ample time researching their strategies and methods. Are we taking as much as a fraction of this time thinking about what we are buying and eating? Or are we slipping into that zombie-like state they want to put us in and accepting it in the name of moderation? So just in food and for your health, please be extreme!!

16 thoughts on “Thinking Moderation? Think Again!!

  1. I think a big thing is the realization that food is for our enjoyment yes, but mainly its to fuel our bodies and our minds. So once you get that mentality that candy bar doesn’t look so great now does it.

    • I know, it wouldn’t look great and that’s why so many people just feel so guilty after eating candy or anything labeled as a “bad food option”. I am not saying that we cannot indulge and enjoy it, I was just putting forth the issue of BPA and GMOs and the role of industries in shaping our consumption. I am the first to enjoy a guilt-free chocolate bar, because first, I know I am eating clean 90% of the time and second that what I chose for a treat won’t cause me a range of diseases on its own. That, for me, is balance.

  2. Another fab post. You really got into thinking about the moderation theory. Personally, I dont think that Biotechnology is bad…its just that it is used wrongly in the food industry. and just thats why, it is essential that general public knows and has a say in research. Information is the key to change. and your post is just one step ahead for good info. great work!

    • Thank you :) you are so right about being well-informed and then everyone can make his own personal choice. I am definitely not saying that what I believe in will work for anyone else. Actually, as I said it was not until recently that I started thinking differently about the “moderation in food”, and just redefining it and questioning it a little bit.

    • I understand but the thing is that I am trying to redefine moderation in food as I have noticed its different interpretations among different people. For instance, for someone who binges on drinks and you tell them they should drink moderately, they may interpret it as 3 drinks per day because for them that’s moderation and they are being healthier. So for weight loss as well as for being healthier in general, I found that applying the 90-10 rule works best ( for some it’s 80-20). That is, you follow a clean, balanced diet 90% of the time and you allow yourself to indulge the rest 10% or two treats per week. That way there won’t be any guesswork.
      For me, there are some things that I am not willing to compromise on especially with the upcoming birth of my girl including BPA exposure and GMOs, but that again is, of course, a personal conviction and choice.

  3. Yes! Extreme living is a forgotten art! Your recommendations that included the words “reduce” or “balance” are encouraging too because not everyone can cook every meal at home.

    Thanks for the thoroughly developed post and your willingness not to hold anything back!

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