Everything in Moderation

One of my pet peeves is when people are advised they can eat everything in moderation.

Here are problems with that dreadful advice:

  1. Can we even do moderation?
    If we could eat in “moderation”, we would not be in this predicament. We wouldn’t have decades of failed diets on our resume with only more weight gain to show for.

  2. What exactly is moderation?
    Moderation is the assumption that we moderate foods that get us into trouble. Instead of eating the whole bag of chips, let’s say we eat 5 single chips. Yay, we did it. Once maybe or twice, but as time goes on, our resolve fades and in no time, we eat the entire bag again.
    We usually stop when the bag is empty or when we are stuffed or feel nauseous.

    So how do thin people do it?
    Good question. Thin people don’t moderate. They too eat until they are full. They are more in sync with their body’s signals, that tell them to stop eating. They will continue to eat, until they are no longer hungry.

  3. How are obese people supposed to do moderation?
    I know, that’s not fair. Obese people are expected to stop eating while they are still hungry. That is called moderation. And if they eat more, they feel guilty, they are shamed by family, doctors, dieticians for their character flaw of not being able to moderate like any normal person. Again though, "normal" people don't moderate. They don't stop eating when still hungry.

  4. How about consuming poisons or allergens in moderation?
    That is silly of course. We would not eat arsenic or other poisons in moderation, we would not recommend to an alcoholic to have some wine in moderation to make them feel better (yes, wine has health benefits), we would not give peanut butter to a child with a peanut allergy.

    So, why do we recommend sugary treats or carb loaded potatoes, grains and fruit to a person that cannot metabolize carbs (sugar)?

    Yet this is exactly what most doctors and dieticians recommend. And they do not bat an eye, if we must take insulin to control glucose levels after a carb-load.

  5. How about a little cheat treat every now and then?
    Most people including myself are abstainers. We do best to completely cut ties with the substance we crave, be it sugar, cigarettes, or alcohol. Feeding the brain's addiction usually leads to returning to old behaviors

    When I did great with my diet, I wanted to reward myself with my favorite cake, because I really deserved it. Next thing, I fell off the wagon, not just for days or weeks, but for years.

    Maybe look back at your own experience. When you wanted to eliminate a substance from your life, were you good still doing it "in moderation"?

  6. But isn’t eliminating foods from our diet restrictive?
    Apparently, we cannot be happy on a diet that is too restrictive. We are made to believe that restrictive diets lead to eating disorder, binge eating and completely losing control.

    IMO eating in moderation is a restriction, because it leaves me wanting more. Being on a ketogenic diet leaves me satiated and comfortably full. I don't crave the foods that I know are bad for me. I guess my entire mindset changed and so can yours.

  7. Let’s learn from nature.
    Animals in the wild do not eat in moderation. Animals that are not fed by humans that is.

    These animals are not obese or suffer from metabolic syndrome. They eat their appropriate diet. We too should eat the proper human diet. Not ultra-processed or engineered food products.

Final thought: I no longer see my lifestyle as giving up my favorite foods, but rather not wanting to eat what hurts me, instead wanting foods that nourish and heal me.

Written by Roxana Soetebeer
Fact-checked by Randy Rife, RRT, RCP. Type 2 Diabetic for 17 years.
Published: July 10th 2021