Why Moderation Matters
It's Karen here, and I am going to attempt to describe why I think moderation is not a cop-out when it comes to nutrition advice. I know moderation is viewed as boring and ambiguous, which also means it's a message that doesn't attract eyeballs and dollar signs. Honestly, I think we may be getting to a point in the nutrition world where moderation makes a comeback. Our diet culture has gone so off the rails that moderation is starting to feel like a radical and sought-after message (hmm...maybe there could be some dollar signs in my future!)
Moderation is defined as the "avoidance of extremes." When it comes to nutrition, there are a couple ways this definition is helpful. One is that when we operate in extremes, we never find balance. We get stuck in cycles such as "eating too much/eating too little or eating only junk or diet foods." The cycle is vicious and it makes us feel like we are always failing. The psychological effects are just as bad, if not worse, than the physical effects of eating in these extremes. When we find balance, we break out of the deprivation-guilt cycle and find satisfaction and peace with food.
Another reason it is smart to avoid extremes in eating is that science has its limitations. For all the talk about evidence-based nutrition advice (we're guilty of using this phrase!), there is a lot of uncertainty about how food affects our health. Arriving at truths about human nutrition is an incredibly difficult thing to do (locking people in labs for months at a time and controlling what they eat is a big ask). Sure, we know that plant-based and less processed foods generally promote health, and that ultra-processed foods are not so good for us, but that leaves a lot of unknowns. So in the absence of absolute truths, "eat some if you like it" isn't unreasonable advice.
I hope you find this helpful, but if all else fails, you can always follow Mark Twain's lead on moderation: "I never smoke to excess - that is, I smoke in moderation, only one cigar at a time." Have a great week everyone!