Let’s talk about the word moderation. It gets thrown around in reference to food all the time. “Everything in moderation.” You all know I’m about finding middle ground, right? So it seems like I would support this idea of “moderation.” Except what one person considers moderation may really be an unhealthy lifestyle. If I eat a piece of cake everyday and convince myself that’s okay (which I totally did back in the day) but I’m not meeting any goals I have set for myself and I’m not healthy, there lies the problem. I cringe when I’m talking to someone about eating a Paleo diet and their response to me is to play the moderation card, especially when they clearly aren’t doing anything in moderation if they just finished telling me how they scarfed a bunch of junk down in one setting.
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Moderation is the new scapegoat. It keeps you from having to make a choice to do something hard, something to challenge your being and find the optimal you. I never preach that everyone should be on a Paleo diet, heck I never preach period. Unlike years ago when I felt like I had to fight and defend every choice I made to people around me, I mostly keep my thoughts about food to myself and save them for the blog. But sometimes I falter.
Recently I was in a meeting and the CNN article about Paleo being one of the last ranked diets of 2013 was brought up
. Next words out of the mouth that mentioned it: “Well I think it’s all about moderation.” At that moment it always becomes the same mantra in my head….”Kendall, shut up, shut up, shut up, bite your tongue WOMAN!!!” I did, mostly. Plus I hadn’t even seen the article so how could I begin to defend the Paleo diet if I didn’t even know what it was talking about? After the chance to read it later, I realized that this one excerpt summed it all up.
Being last on the Best Diets list doesn’t mean Paleo is the worst diet ever (the “Cookie Diet” didn’t even make the list). But U.S. News & World Report’s experts said the Paleo Diet was too restrictive for most people to follow long term, and that it limited some essential nutrients. They also cited a lack of research proving the Paleo Diet’s cardiovascular health and weight loss benefits in their ranking.
Even though the setting I was in wasn’t conducive to me speaking my mind or defending why I love me some bacon and butter, I feel like I need to share my thoughts somewhere and since this is my blog where I get to say whatever I want, here goes:
A) Limited essential nutrients? If you’ve been Paleo for any amount of time (3 years for me) you know that there are no essential nutrients being limited. I was anemic my whole life until I started eating this way and I can now finally absorb the nutrients my body couldn’t take in before due to the grains I was eating.
B) Too restrictive? I get that we’re all in different places in our lives at different times. The last thing I want anyone doing is being a perfectionist about food. Just not a good practice for so many reasons. On the other hand we live in a get everything we want mentality society. People no longer have to work hard to get the results they want when a pill or magic machine or surgery is just down the street to make it happen. However short term those results may be. I want to make the best out of life I can. For me that means making sacrifices and skipping the donuts from Krispy Kreme when I drive by and the “HOT” sign is on. Is it really a sacrifice though? Maintaining a weight that feels comfortable to me, not being sluggish, not getting colds, having energy to meet my lifting goals, and sleeping well are not really sacrifices at all. They are living a fulfilled and healthy life. I’ve tried other ways of eating like vegetarianism and veganism. To me those were too restrictive to follow long term and were definitely lacking essential nutrients.
C) Lack of research proving cardiovascular health and weight loss benefits??? This is my big OMG response. Robb Wolf has a great rebuttal so check that out here
My overall frustration with this article is that it continues to show people that it’s okay to buy into the belief of moderation. Drink some shakes or pre-packaged meals or follow points and you’ll lose weight. Except how often do people tell you that they’ve done every diet and none of those options were ever successful in a sustainable way? I hear it all the time. My husband did Weight Watchers for years and yo yo’d constantly while never finding the “will power” to stick with it and stayed overweight and unhealthy for a decade. He’s been Paleo for 3 years, has lost 60 pounds, is now an athlete, and has never felt that he’s missing out on food. If he wants a treat or a beer he follows the 80/20 plan. If I were to define a healthy version of moderation, that would be it.
Here’s what I want for people: to live their lives in an optimal way. To me that looks like having a healthy mind, body, and spirit. Dealing with food addictions and not tricking ourselves that eating whatever we want whenever we want is healthy. Then calling it moderation because we don’t want to do the hard work to deal with our stuff that triggers those desires to eat unhealthy foods that cause us to be sick and overweight. On the other side of the coin, not being obsessive and depriving ourselves because we’re stuck in the perfectionism of it. There is a balance to it all. Maybe moderation isn’t a bad word after all, but what is most important is seeking mindfulness in our diet and lifestyle to make sure that we aren’t missing opportunities of growth.