On the face of it, "everything in moderation" sounds like sensible, sound advice. But stick with me dahlinks....
“All things in moderation” is just BAD ADVICE - on so many levels.
Here are a few:
1. Studies have shown that when it comes to food, people don't even know what "moderation" means. What one person thinks is an "OK" amount of sugary cookies might actually be placing their body into metabolic distress. What another person thinks is an "OK" amount of veggies might leave a lot of room for improvement. You get my drift? And in an effort to include "all things in moderation" they may be well be eating too many "sometimes foods" too often! (I wrote about sometimes foods HERE and I encourage you to check it out!)
2. It is in the interests of the processed food companies to push and perpetuate the "everything in moderation" message. They use this nifty little catchphrase to justify the place of products that I personally won’t even call food in your shopping trolley and in your diet (and high profits on their bottom lines). These products (I'm not going to call them food) are so energy-dense they are extremely likely to push the average person into overnutrition. Science is increasingly revealing that overnutrition is where the damage is done. And not only that, they are usually way too high in added sugar, salt, saturated and trans-fats. And even worse: more often than not, they have been specifically formulated to make you crave more - and more. Many processed foods are carefully engineered to delight our tastebuds and override our normal satiety messages so that we just keep eating, long after the point of "moderation" has come and gone! And that's the thing: the food companies encourage you to purchase and enjoy their profitable products "in moderation", but they don't tell you about the decades of food science that has been invested into making sure that once you take that first bite, all thoughts (and most of your chances) of moderation go right out the window!
3. The "all things in moderation" catchphrase ignores the fact that there are some "foods" we just can’t in good conscience recommend people consume at all, in moderation or otherwise - sugary soft drinks, and deep-fried chips and snack foods are the two big ones on my hit-list! But I'm also referring to anything that is highly processed, or "ultraprocessed" as the public health experts are now calling the highly processed, highly palatable, just-can't-stop-at-one-or-even-20 plastic wrapped snackfoods.
4. And there is a flip side too! As a nutritionist there are some foods I don't want you to exercise any kind of moderation in your intake!! Can you guess what they are? Yup, VEGGIES!!!!! I want you to load up your plate with a rainbow of healthy veggies as often as possible! I don't want you to be moderate about it AT ALL. Nope! I want you to have LOTS of them! They are an amazing source of vitamins, minerals, fibre and phytonutrients that can calm inflammation and counteract free radical and DNA damage. Peer reviewed studies abound which show that increasing your fruit and veg intake can reduce your risk of obesity, many cancers, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, stroke, heart attack and even depression and dementia! They are also known to boost our endothelial function (the health of our blood vessels) and even our immune system. And back in February scientists from the Imperial College in London published a paper stating that if people want to use food as preventative medicine and get the biggest bang for their nutrition buck, they should consume 800g of fruit and veg a day. That’s approximately TEN serves a day! Researchers found that the benefits of veggie intake increase with increased consumption. 10 serves a day was found to yield maximum benefit.* And I WANT you to get maximum benefit! So don't exercise "moderation" when it comes to consuming a rainbow of healthy veggies. Load up your plate and go for seconds and thirds!!!**
I absolutely ADORE food! And I love to enjoy the occasional treat - without a shred of guilt. But I’m not going to fall for food industry lobbying, marketing and PR, or some "nifty" catchphrases, to manipulate me into regularly purchasing and eating high-profit, nutrient-bereft products that will only push my body into overnutrition, and in the long-term into obesity and chronic illness.
And I’m not going to let you do it either dahlinks!
* But that's only because that was as high as they measured, so who really knows what the healthiest upper limit of intake even is?!?
** Maybe be a little careful about what you are cooking them in (ie, don't eat a truckload of battered and deep-fried veggies, m'kay?) and don't go overboard on the ones like potato that can spike your blood sugar and insulin - or use my nifty trick to cool them first to lower the glycemic impact! You can read all about it HERE.
- vanDellen MR, Isherwood JC, Delose JE. How do people define moderation?. Appetite. 2016 Jun;101:156-62.
- de Oliveira Otto MC, Padhye NS, Bertoni AG, Jacobs Jr DR, Mozaffarian D. Everything in Moderation-Dietary Diversity and Quality, Central Obesity and Risk of Diabetes. PloS one. 2015 Oct 30;10(10):e0141341
- Conklin AI, Monsivais P, Khaw KT, Wareham NJ, Forouhi NG. Dietary Diversity, Diet Cost, and Incidence of Type 2 Diabetes in the United Kingdom: A Prospective Cohort Study. PLoS Med. 2016 Jul 19;13(7):e1002085.
- Livingstone KM, McNaughton SA. Diet quality is associated with obesity and hypertension in Australian adults: a cross sectional study. BMC Public Health. 2016 Oct 1;16(1):1037.
- Mozaffarian D. The politics and science of soda and our health. The Lancet. 2016 May 28;387(10034):2192-3.
- Conklin AI, Monsivais P, Khaw KT, Wareham NJ, Forouhi NG. Dietary diversity, diet cost and incidence of type 2 diabetes in the UK: A prospective cohort study.
- Slavin J, Beate L, Health Benefits of Fruits and Vegetables, Adv Nutr July 2012 Adv Nutr vol. 3: 506-516, 2012
- Dagfinn Aune, Edward Giovannucci, Paolo Boffetta, Lars T. Fadnes, NaNa Keum, Teresa Norat, Darren C. Greenwood, Elio Riboli, Lars J. Vatten, Serena Tonstad; Fruit an d vegetable intake and the risk of cardiovascular disease, total cancer and all-cause mortality–a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies. Int J Epidemiol 2017 dyw319. doi: 10.1093/ije/dyw319