I was sooo close to calling this “WTF Happened to Moderation?!” but I didn’t want to come across as overly angry, but let me tell you that the land of January has left me a bit bewildered…
I’ve worked in weight loss and wellness my entire life.
I studied nutrition as a very young student and jumped right on board with Jenny Craig as soon as I graduated from college. In my academics, we learn balance and moderation. And at Jenny Craig, while a commercial weight loss program, we also preached balance and moderation.
It’s not a “diet”, it’s a lifestyle.
There are no “bad” foods.
Everything in moderation…
These were the lessons I was taught, then proceeded to teach, personally practice and continue to advocate. There is little doubt that “diets don’t work.” I’m pretty sure the research substantiated that claim several times over again by now. But I guess it gets a little tricky when you start to break down what the word diet really means.
What does the word diet really mean?
By definition, diet is really just the food you eat (i.e a balanced diet.) But A diet, or dieting, implies something of restriction and something most of us know will fail in the long run (i.e. the cabbage soup diet). We know that we can’t eliminate all of life’s indulgences forever. We know this because we’ve tried it and we’ve failed. The cravings or social callings stack so high that we eventually cave, cheat and fail. Or, if this is a short term diet to take off weight, as soon as the time limit is up, restrictions are released, we’re like rubber bands flinging so far across the diet spectrum we end up more stuffed than if said diet had never occurred. So we know “diets don’t work.” We know we just need to eat healthier. Everything in moderation. Right?
Diet versus Lifestyle
Here’s where I get confused. And if I’m confused, I imagine someone else might be too. Most of today’s diet trends say they are different that “diets” because it’s a not a diet you follow for a certain about of time. It’s a lifestyle. A permanent and healthier way of eating. These are things like the Paleo Diet*, Atkins Diet*, Raw Food Diet*, etc. They all advocate the adoption of a new style of eating and you eat that way forever to sustain the benefits of said diet. And these diets are restrictive of some pretty essential food groups. Like entire categories leaving some missing nutrients. Some that you may need, some you may crave. Either way, forever is a long time and “cheating” becomes inevitable. And now, while we set out with the healthiest of intentions, how is this different form the original definition of “diet” that we all know doesn’t work?
*Please understand that if you do follow any of these diets, love it, live it and feel wonderful on it, never have cravings, have plenty of energy, sleep well, never suffer from guilt from “cheating,” then I’m really happy you found your right diet and I’m in no way suggesting it is not the right one for you. This post is a more general approach to help those who may be confused and struggling to find their right diet.
I’m not discouraging anybody from adopting a healthy lifestyle
In fact, quite the opposite. It’s actually my primary aim in life, to help people find better health and more happiness thought adoption of healthier habits and more forgiving thought patterns. I think most of us can agree that excess sugar is bad, particularly added refined sugar that you find in packaged and processed foods. Most of today’s diet trends suggest elimination of sugar to help improve health. Let’s not forget that sugar (carbohydrates) are your body’s primary and preferred source of energy. Not all sugar is bad.
I truly do believe that limiting excess processed and refined sugar is a good idea and that consumption in excess is causing a myriad of health and weight related problems. But what I’m struggling with now is the extreme measures we’re going through to eliminate sugar for the sake of better health. Many of today’s trends say zero grains, zero dairy, zero legumes, and even limiting of certain fruits and vegetables. I don’t believe we should feel like we’re “cheating” when consuming a balanced diet that includes whole grains, black beans, Greek yogurt, bananas and potatoes and other starchy/complex carbs. I’m tired of watching people feel bad about struggling to stay true to these “lifestyles.”
Let me sum up my moderation rant here…
Everything in moderation is ok. It really is. I don’t think that you’re going to develop type II diabetes for having the occasional, small dessert. I think a little dairy product in a shake is a great way to get in more protein. I think a piece of toast with jelly in the morning is a great way to fuel a powerful run. I think quinoa and black beans in a salad is a great way to add texture, flavor, fiber and other important nutrients. They key is variety, balance and moderation.
Everything in excess is bad. It really is. This even includes vegetables. When you switch your diet too rapidly, a surge of fruits and veggies will put your body into a digestive fit. And obviously we know that too many calories (which is too much of anything) causes weight gain, which is a precursor to many degenerative diseases. Too much protein can’t really be utilized by your body and much goes to waste. Too much fat (particularly trans and hydrogenated) fats can increase blood lipids and cholesterol. They key is variety, balance and moderation.
The secret to your success
Find your moderation. Find your right diet. And let it be a lifestyle, something you can do forever. Make sure it nourishes your body, gives you energy, satisfies your cravings and allows you to live happy, healthy and guilt free.
Yikes, I don’t rant often, I promise! But can you agree or disagree on any level here?
I would love to open this up for discussion.
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