What is moderation, if you ask a group of individuals you will get a variety of answers based on their beliefs. One may indicate to a client they need to limit a specific food item, but based on the individual’s personal definition of moderation they still may over consume the food item or become too restrictive and loose joy in eating. I prefer not to use this term and cringe when I hear other health professionals use this term.
There are foods that are less healthy but can still be part of healthy way of living, like olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil (yes despite all the information in the recent media), and flours made from quality grains, these food items are still processed foods and are not as healthy as eating their whole food source. Therefore, in this instance they should be limited to only 1/serving a day and as one transitions to a healthier way of living work down to 4-5 servings a week. The first step to healthy eating is education and awareness if you can’t get it down to 1/serving a day right away work your way there.
“There are no bad foods and everything in moderation!” I don’t like the “bad” food label but there are foods that are counterproductive to our wellbeing, these foods fall into two categories. The first are foods that are disadvantageous to all of us, they either provide absolutely no nutritional value or what they do provide is offset by their negative effect on our bodies. These foods may have an obvious effect on an individual or an underlying effect that is not visible or expressed until disease or health imbalances set in. An example is added sugar. It causes weight gain, inflammation, blood sugar imbalances, supresses the immune system and much more. Its effects can be obvious or not obvious until disease sets in. There is absolutely no nutritional value to added sugars, our bodies receive all the sugar they need from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. So, what is the balance in this situation?
Healthy eating is not a diet it’s not all or nothing or black and white, there is always wiggle room. Let’s be real, healthy eating is about being happy and feeling great! If you eat 90% healthy and let it go 10% of the time it’s not going to make it or break it. Just like if someone eats unhealthy all the time they are obviously not going to become healthy if they eat the occasional salad. If you have reached your goals and have no major underlying health conditions a couple of months out of the year you can even let this slip to 80/20. Avoid using your 10% as a reward, this can lead to emotional eating. Keep your 10% to special occasions or living in the moment occasions. Remember not to make this a habit or make special occasions out of everything, that 10% can easily become 30%+ and those poor food choices become once again part of our day to day living. Unhealthy foods are addictive and even those of us who know well and do well can easily fall into poor eating habits. Another word of precaution, when one transitions to healthy eating, our bodies become healthy and confident. A healthy confident body speaks out, it does so by making us feel unwell. This can happen when we indulge during our 10%, it is important to acknowledge this communication and provide your body with lots of water and follow up with healthy meals and appreciate this communication and reminder of the importance of eating healthy.
The second harmful food category are foods that cause reactions or aggravate imbalances in specific individuals. For example, some foods even healthy foods are harmful in certain conditions or individuals, it may be temporary or permanent. In this instance, a person may avoid these foods completely or limit them and manage them with specific treatments or rotational protocols. Sadly, many of these individuals are judged, this is not some fad or hypochondria these are real issues that are addressed with food as medicine. We have been using food as medicine for thousands of years, with changes in thoughts towards disease and the reliance on allopathy and medicines we lost this practice and only recently has it come back thanks to a better understanding of nutritional science and root causes to health imbalances.
Although one should avoid the everything in moderation mentality, healthy eating is not all or nothing. The feeling of being limited is a perception, transitioning from one way of thinking and eating is never easy and should be done in baby steps ideally with the support of someone with a solid nutritional background. Once you start embracing this transition and thinking outside the box it will become evident that there are way more options out there then not and the few food items that you miss can still be enjoyed during your 10% living in the moment periods.
Dana Clark, CNHP, CHN, CHC owner or From the Roots Holistic,
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