The 'everything in moderation' mantra has long been promoted as the healthy way to eat. This week, however, I've been challenging the idea and throwing myself into discussions about the theory behind it and whether this really is the best approach for optimal health.
What is moderation?
Let's first consider the definition of moderation from the Oxford English dictionary -
"the avoidance of excess or extremes. Within reasonable limits"
Although accurate, this definition isn't really that helpful, after all what might be considered 'excessive' to one person might be considered 'normal' to another. This is where the issue lies and why I have a problem with the statement.
Is it really moderation?
Most people use this concept to enjoy, guilt-free, the pleasure of eating something they might otherwise consider unhealthy - a takeaway meal, alcohol, chocolate, biscuits, cakes, muffins, pies, processed meat, breakfast cereals and so on.
The truth is, these foods don't offer much nutritional value at all. Our body's don't need these foods, but our brains and emotional state often do. So on Monday you may eat a biscuit. On Tuesday, a few hot chips. Wednesday you're in a rush and grab a muffin. Thursday includes some after-work drinks and then on Friday you indulge in an after dinner dessert - after all it's only once week, right?
Well, no...that's every day you've eating something that's either highly processed or contained high amounts of added sugar, salt or unsaturated fat.
Something that you do every day isn't 'moderation' - it's a lifestyle.
Science backs this thinking too. According to a new study, into the effects of diversity in the diet on waist circumference and the incidences of Type 2 diabetes, there was little evidence for benefits in diet diversity for either abdominal obesity or diabetes. In fact, the broader the diet, the greater the gain in waist circumference. The author states, "These results suggest that in modern diets, eating ‘everything in moderation’ is actually worse than eating a smaller number of healthy foods."
Keep things simple for yourself. Enjoy a diet consisting mostly of whole, unprocessed foods. Maintain a degree of consistency in your diet, which can help with effective weight management. Avoid highly processed foods, or those high in added sugar, salt or saturated fat, and remember, if you're eating these types of food every day, don't fool yourself into thinking that's all part of 'moderation'!