I once met a dietitian. Now of course, I’ve met a lot of dietitians, but this one will always stick with me.
We met each other at a conference and started talking about the best and healthiest methods for losing fat.
My philosophy was based on the science of carb depletion, emptying the glycogen stores and creating a metabolic shift. I know this works.
And as she sipped on her diet Coke and popped an entire roll of Ritz crackers into her mouth as ‘lunch’ she adamantly told me about the importance of moderation in any diet.
Now this woman was obese. And I don’t know her medial history – she could have serious medical issues that prevented her from losing fat.
But I couldn’t help but think about the crappy diet advice that often comes from the ‘experts.’
Because moderation is for suckers.
Let me explain a little bit about this so called ‘moderation.’
And like all good and trusting things –it’s a backed by some science.
WHAT IS MODERATION?
A team of folks at the U. of Georgia did a study on moderation a bit ago – and they got some crazy interesting info out of it.
People were asked about how they practice moderation and what that really looks like when it comes to eating.
The not so surprising part:
Every person has a different idea of what moderation means.
Makes sense since we all have different perspectives, experiences, etc. etc.
But the surprising finding they got:
Each person has different definitions of moderations for different foods.
When it comes to eating a food they love – ‘moderation’ allowed them to eat a whole heck of a lot of it.
Two pints of ice cream per night is considered moderation, right?
Let’s take a step back and put eating on a continuum.
On one side you have total restriction. On the other is total splurge.
Right in the middle is moderation.
Sounds simple right? Don’t restrict and don’t go crazy and you’ve got moderation.
Clear as mud for a diet follower, right?
Now – an interesting thing here:
Most people who follow a moderation style of eating consider themselves to be “better than moderation.”
That means they see their eating habits to be closer to the restricted (albeit healthier) end of the continuum than the splurging.
We all assume we have a pretty good ‘moderation diet’ regardless of what or how much we’re eating.
And it’s because restriction, splurge and moderation are all meaningless words. There is no quantifiable amount connected to any of those.
So if I told you to eat in moderation, does that mean one dessert per week or 12?
One cookie or 13?
One buffet trip or 6?
But because we are VERY forgiving with our eating habits, almost every person assumes they are eating healthier than they really are.
We are inherently bad at knowing how much food we eat. And we are very forgiving about what “moderation” means – especially when it comes to our favorite foods.
Moderation is too flexible of a term for us to use it as a diet strategy.
But it’s not your fault – our brains are just wired to fail at moderation.
WIRED TO FAIL
Back in the caveman days, those hunter/gathers ate fresh meat and vegetables. They treated themselves on the occasional berries or natural sweet sources.
And because food was never guaranteed, their brains were wired to seek out the most calorie dense foods – more calories were going to give them more energy to last them until the next food source was found.
Survival tactic there.
But today – we’ve got a surplus of food, but brains that are still wired to seek out calorie dense goodness for survival.
And since those high fatty foods are found in every direction you turn, we’re constantly having to fight the urge to “survive” by devouring the high fat, high calorie foods.
Why do you crave sweets or fried foods instead of veggies? You’re hardwired to want the calories.
So if we can’t control our hardwired brains and we don’t have a clue what ‘moderation’ actually is, how do we manage our eating to lose fat?
I get it! No one wants to cut out their favorite foods – who would?
But the hard truth is this: if you want to follow a diet plan for actual results, you’ve got to avoid the foods that aren’t moving you forward. Not even in moderation.
If you checked into the research on overeating or heard some stories from an Overeater’s Anonymous meeting– you’d see the real and physical result that comes from avoiding those calorie and trans-fatty foods altogether.
Do you think a heroine addict can quit heroine by having a hit or two every day? Doubtful.
So why do we think we can do it with food?
What we need instead of murky ‘moderation’ guidelines about keeping us addicted to our favorite junk foods are black and white guidelines.
Eat this, not that.
Eat this amount, no more.
Clear and simple guidelines to eliminate all the guess work, confusion and temptation to eat a whole cake as “moderation.”
Instead of eating for moderation, try this:
Write down all of the foods you know you should be eating. Eat those.
Write down all the foods you love, but you know you should avoid. Don’t eat those.
Then see the results happen.
It works. It’s simple. And there’s no room for murky moderation.
If you really can’t abstain from your favorite foods, here’s the black and white way to fix that:
Add in one cheat meal per week.
Create your third list (because you’ve already got the two listed above) of the only approved cheat foods and their serving sizes.
On your one cheat meal – you get one of those items and only the serving you wrote down.
Don’t leave your diet up to chance, guess work or moderation. Create a black and white structure. Follow it. See results.
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