The Case Against Moderation
Next to 'core' my most hated word in the health and fitness industry is moderation.
Don't get me wrong, as a concept it it's hugely important. It should be the safety valve to prevent people from doing more of something than is sensible or beneficial. A short reasonably paced run or walk now and again is quite important for anyone's health and well being. When this sensible habit is multiplied up to a daily marathon it does not multiply the benefits.
Except the benifits to the physio and/or surgeon's bank account after they get to fix your knees and back. I guess, they have to eat.
The idea that calories will always be steadily ticking away as you run is fiction. In fact frequent longs runs teach your metabolism to be more efficient and to hang on to fat while the sky high stress hormones will burn through your muscle mass. But it sells treadmills and keeps gyms in business without needing to teach anyone anything difficult or complicated so it's not going anywhere.
Quite often less is actually more. Which is strange as moderation of effort, exertion or exercise is rarely recommended.
My hatred of the word comes from how it is applied to diet. It is used to justify complaisance and to justify eating things that you know will not help you be healthy.
If I tell someone with such poor blood sugar regulation that they are half a frappachino away from being diabetic that they should cut their carb intake to whatever is found in leafy greens, salad veg and raw carrot their stock response will be "Everything in moderation". It's hard to contradict without sounding unreasonable and I work very very hard to appear reasonable to the casual observer. Also I am a better salesman than to contradict a potential client anyway.
My go to response to this line of reasoning (and favorite quote) is "Everything in moderation, INCLUDING moderation." Two or three units of alcohol a week are pretty harmless depending on the actual booze but to a recovering alcoholic that is very poor advice. Moderation breaks down in some situations and cannot be a universal standard.
Imagine a scale with the healthiest foods and activities FOR YOU PERSONALLY at one end and the worst at the other. Most people will probably exist within a narrow band on the scale. Unless there are any large communities of crystal meth addicts who only eat local seasonal organic food I don't know about.
Your actual health will be a sort of average of the things on this imaginary scale. This is not very groundbreaking. The problems begin when people do not attempt to decide where things should be on their own personal scale. To most slightly stressed otherwise healthy people I believe a little alcohol in the form of a distilled spirit with a sugar free mixer is at worst harmless and most probably of some benefit. So either in the very center of our scale or a little bit into the good side. Although to the recovering alcoholic it would be just about the final destination on the bad end of the health scale, right next to veganism, drinking bleach and informing your significant other that they should consider wearing more slimming colors.
This brings me around to the main point. Wheat, gluten, grain food, dairy, preservatives, sugar, hydrogenated oils, artificial sweeteners, allergy causing ingredients and general rubbish. Not everyone CAN'T eat all of the above. Maybe they shouldn't, but for some people they will barely be into the bad end of their scale. However for many many people these things cause serious problems. Arguing that everyone eats them so they must be okay falls down with a quick search of the World Health Organization statistics on death and disease. What everyone else does it's not a very good game plan. If everyone does something then doing something else might be a good reflex to develop.
Until you have taken the time to eliminate and reintroduce different commonly problematic foods you have not got the information to know what moderate means. If you have a health or weight problem then 'moderation' is just one of the claws it is using to stay on your back. If I KNEW with total certainty that, in addition to making my skin clear up and dropping body fat, eliminating gluten and dairy could prevent a life altering disease developing then I wouldn't have to give much thought to saying no to cheese on toast.
I keep these things to a bare minimum as I assume if they effect my skin they probably do the same to other organs that I cant see. Ignorance is never an acceptable defense. Never assume that any food, natural or processed, cannot have an effect on your mind, body or health. Take your health and body in your own hands and take the time to assess how things make you feel. Mindlessly eating anything that gets promoted and advertised by a huge company and giving in to any food craving you have leads to poor health and obesity. Just because something is not marketed as a 'treat' food does not make it acceptable to eat on a daily basis.
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