Every Food in Moderation

NutritionIf you grew up in the United States, it’s very likely you were raised on the conventional nutritional wisdom, “everything in moderation. ”

Throughout my years of transitioning toward a healthier lifestyle, I interpreted this phrase in many different ways.

As a kid, my family followed this mantra to a T, having treats for special occasions and on weekends every once in awhile, but sticking primarily to a wide variety of foods, including whole grains, fruits, vegetables and meats. All in all, it really was pretty healthy (if not in line with the way I eat today for optimal health).

In college, I took this conventional wisdom to mean that on days when I planned on going to a party and drinking beer, I should probably eat only egg whites for breakfast, and lettuce for lunch and dinner. Not the best plan, actually. And honestly, I spent most of college periodically eating as little as possible, to make up for the times when I drank beer and ate pizza and candy. While I must say the junk was delicious, the times I spent trying to make up for those treats was anything but.

In the lifestyle I follow currently, I have been doing a lot of thinking about “everything in moderation” In theory, I like the message it is sending: to not go too crazy with one’s diet in any direction (obsessively healthy or overly junky). Still, the more I learn about the foods that the human body really doesn’t need (or, in many cases, tolerate), the more I’ve begun to think the phrase should read something more like, “every FOOD in moderation.”

Let’s face facts, people. Cheetos and doughnuts, they’re not food. They are factory-made food products that offer absolutely no nutrition. No, they fill our bodies only with chemicals and sugar. Nearly nothing else. Am I saying I will never, ever eat a Cheeto or a doughnnut again? God now. They’re freaking delicious!

What I am saying is that suggesting everything can be eaten “in moderation” often leads people to be eating way too many of such things. The fact is, these processed food products are not food, and should not be eaten in moderation. If you’re looking for optimal health, these things should be eaten as infrequently as possible.

When it comes to real, whole foods found in nature (things that have ALWAYS been food), however: moderate the hell of out that sh**!

Like I said, I am not perfect in this sense. At Christmas, I ate my weight in cookies, candy and other things I normally wouldn’t eat. And I do believe there are times when such gorging is not a big deal. But, I’ve also gotten better and better at satisfying cravings with gluten-free, sugar-free, made from scratch treats, and I feel SO much better for it.

I’ve found that those times when I do give in to a craving for “real” junk- the kind of junk you can only find in a vending machine- I always regret it. I always feel like crap after. And to me, that’s just proof of what I put in my body: crap.

So that’s how I feel about that. What do you think about this idea? Do you eat the occasional gluten-filled, sugary treat? Or are you a super human with willpower the size of Texas?

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