The Myth of Moderation

Myth of Moderation | Spiro Health & Wellness
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This is a guest post by Iris Thieme

We are supposed to practice “moderation in all things,” right? I’m not exactly sure where that phrase came from, but it is good advice for many aspects of our lives, but unfortunately NOT for healthy lifestyle habits. First, what is the definition of moderation? “The avoidance of excess or extremes, especially in one’s behavior or political opinions.” Some synonyms are: self-restraint, restraint, self-control, self-discipline.

Self-restraint and self-discipline are both admirable characteristics we all should work to attain, especially in this day and age of entitlement. Too many have been taught to do whatever “feels good,” even if it is self-destructive, or even health-destructive. We may rationalize our destructive behavior thinking that as long as we practice moderation, we will be ok, but in actuality, we are just lying to ourselves. To put it into a different perspective, ask yourself: How many cigarettes is a moderate and healthy amount? How much cocaine is a moderate amount? Or even, how much sugar, caffeine, alcohol or any other artificial stimulant or junk food is a moderate and healthy amount? Unfortunately, we are taught by society that it is radical or extreme to abstain from any or all of these substances.

Are you content with being moderately healthy? Dr. Michael Greger, author of “How Not to Die” said, “If we consume the SAD (Standard American Diet) full of processed foods with sugar, fat and salt, but only in moderation, we might have only moderate health, moderate obesity, moderate cancer, moderate diabetes, or moderate blindness.” 

It is possible to drink alcohol in moderation and not have immediate consequences, but is it possible for an alcoholic to drink in moderation? Many of us are not alcoholics, but we may be addicted to caffeine, sugar, fat, and salt due to the artificially high levels of these substances in processed “foods” not found in the natural world. Foods found in nature (fruits and veggies, grains, beans, nuts and seeds) are naturally low in sugar, fat and salt.  This is the key to optimal health. Even the wild game that our ancestors consumed was only 15% fat, compared to 30%+ fat found in meat today (grass fed or factory farmed). For optimal health, an optimal diet is necessary. 

Unfortunately, it is not very beneficial to be moderate in changing your diet and lifestyle. Small, moderate changes seem easier, but to break free from what Dr. Doug Lisle calls “the pleasure trap”, it requires what some would consider a more “extreme” approach.  Dr. Dean Ornish said in his book, “UnDo It”, “The more you change your lifestyle, the more you improve in how you feel and in everything you measure.  So when you make really big changes in your diet and lifestyle, you are likely to feel so much better (usually within days) that it reframes the reason for making these changes from fear of dying (which is not sustainable) to joy in living (which is).” So, you may want to ask yourself, “Do I want to do everything in moderation and be moderately healthy, or do I want to be extremely healthy by eating extremely healthy foods and living an extremely healthy lifestyle?” You decide.

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