The Moderation Myth
Ever heard the expression “Everything in moderation”? Of course, we all have. I’ve always thought it was a great message. It allows you to enjoy life and your vices as long as you do it all in moderation. But it doesn’t REALLY apply to “everything”.
Some of the limits to this idea are obvious. Like doing crack in moderation. Not a good idea. Smoking in moderation is also not something I would recommend. Some things are not as obvious and will undermine your best intentions.
Specifically, I’m thinking of sugar. You may be sick of all the hype about how sugar is super addictive. That it’s more addictive than drugs like heroin. I’m not sure I buy into it completely. What I do know is the reports I’ve heard from other people and my own experience with the effects of sugar. Once you start adding it into your diet it’s hard to to take it out.
I also think the level of addicting power of any substance has a lot to do with individual predisposition to addiction. I had heard about how insanely hard it was to quit smoking. And while I did have some moments, overall I didn’t find quitting smoking to be all that bad. A little willpower here and there and I was good. Others I know have experienced a massive struggle when they try (and often fail) to quit.
When it comes to sugar, as with all dieting, it gets tricky. Plenty of healthy food contains naturally occurring sugars. Fruit is the big one, but others do as well. So, what I’m really talking about is added sugar.
I hear from people all the time about how hard it is to stop once they start eating sugary foods. Even if you can manage to just have one serving you will likely find yourself wanting more. You notice that you start to crave it. Just like an addiction.
I wouldn’t say that you should never have things like cake, cookies or ice cream again. I would say to have them only occasionally and be aware of the effects (especially as we head into the holiday season). Sugar seems so harmless. We under estimate it’s ability to have a hold on us. That’s how we get into trouble. Awareness is the key.
First of all, know your yourself. How does sugar effect you? Does 1 cookie always seem to turn into 10 or more ( a whole box maybe)? Do you find yourself craving more sugar than usual afterward, even the next day?
Is it worth it to have the sugar in the first place? Will you appreciate the sugary treat and move on or will you feel guilt and regret after? Will that bowl of ice cream be the beginning of downward slide or just an isolated event?
Do you feel like you have to justify the crap out of it before you have it or do you feel calm and relaxed knowing it can easily fit into your overall nutrition plan because your habits of good eating are solid? If you feel like you have to defend your choice to have something sugary (especially when no one is really challenging you on it in the first place) then you know it’s really you who isn’t feeling good about it.
Moderation is a great idea. It works for people with a lot of different things in life, but “everything in moderation” should not be taken at face value. Be honest with yourself. If having something, even in moderation, is not going to work for you, doesn’t serve you, then don’t do it.
Everything in moderation, including moderation. – Oscar Wilde