That moderation thing.

The AIM ladies were having a discussion about moderation today.  Particularly the idea that seems to be popular that eating in moderation is more of a cop out than an actual strategy.  Like you say the phrase “everything in moderation” because you are unwilling/unable to give up certain items.  It’s almost the implication that you are weak if you don’t do all-or-nothing type of eating.

Let me tell you – I have worked very, very hard to get rid of the all-or-nothing mentality.  That was my biggest hurdle in losing weight.  I was either on a diet or off, exercising or not, good or bad.  No gray areas. No in between. You know where that got me?  250 pounds – that’s where.   I had to redefine my relationship with food.  I am about 99% comfortable with all foods now.  Nothing is a ‘naughty’ food.  I don’t eat a lot of the foods I used to eat, but not because they are ‘bad’ foods. I just chose different foods now.

Yes, there are some foods I have issues with having around, like say mini peanut butter cups.  That’s why I don’t buy those to have in the house.  That doesn’t mean I can never have them again.  My sister has these at her house fairly often, especially from Halloween on, so I figure I can eat them there.  I just choose not to buy them.  That’s moderation for me on that food.


Or take the bagel.


You know I love my bagels.  I used to eat them almost every day.  For me, moderation is eating them twice a week – and always out.  I very rarely buy them to eat at home.  I have gotten a lot of  ‘advice’ over the years that I should give them up and that I eat too many.  That’s because that is their version of moderation and not mine. Moderation is a very personal thing.

Moderation does not necessarily mean elimination.

Moderation has to be learned and practiced, particularly if you are a foodie that eats with abandon.  Sometimes you do have to remove a food for a little while until you can introduce it again slowly. It’s always a learning process for me.

I was talking with John about this tonight and he said moderation was basically enjoying the good things in life without going overboard.  I think that is a very good analogy.

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26 thoughts on “That moderation thing.

  1. Cammy@TippyToeDiet

    I think you and John are right on target. Moderation is similar for me. I eat mostly whole, healthy foods because I like the way they taste and the way they make me feel. I also enjoy small amounts of foods that others would consider “dirty”, I suppose, since that’s the opposite of “clean”, for the same reasons. Sometimes I get my ratios out of whack, and if I don’t recognize it intellectually, my body will let me know soon enough.

    I hadn’t heard the moderation-is-a-copout spiel before today, and I found it very surprising that anyone would see it that way. It’s no more a copout than negating whole food groups rather than learn to deal with them. No matter which route we choose, most of us are doing what we feel is best for long-term success. The trick is to pay attention to what’s working and what’s not.
    Cammy@TippyToeDiet´s last blog post ..What’s Your Problem?

  2. Lori Post author

    I am surprised that people have that attitude as well. It used to be that moderation was something you aspired to, but I guess that is just status quo anymore?

  3. Tami@nutmegnotebook

    I never heard of moderation as being a cop out. Eating a balanced diet with less healthy foods in moderation is how I used to work my food plan. Since I found out my genetics were causing my LDL cholesterol to increase even though I had a so called healthy food plan I had to make a choice. Continue eating all things in moderation and go on a statin drug or make more drastic dietary changes and lower my cholesterol through lifestyle changes. I chose the lifestyle changes.

    I know that my choice wouldn’t work for everyone. Just like eating some foods in moderation won’t work for everyone. Finding the right balance is such an individual thing and there is no one size fits all.

    i would like to point out that not everyone can learn to eat all foods in moderation. Sugar, salt and fat can be very addictive to certain people causing them a great deal of difficulty in eating those foods in moderation. For those folks there might not be the option of eating certain foods in moderation. It’s not all about will power, there is much more to take into consideration.

  4. debby

    Bravo! I have learned a lot from you over the years about eating in moderation. And what you said–“moderation needs to be learned and practiced” that’s right. Whatever way we choose to eat from now on, its probably a big change from the way we’ve eaten for many years. It is going to take a lot of practice. I’m getting better–pretty soon I’ll be able to play a concerto! Also love John’s definition.

    And I agree with you on the mini peanut butter cups…
    debby´s last blog post ..Almost Spa Week

  5. Molly

    Excellent post. I’ve heard people argue that moderation is a cop out. I think moderation doesn’t work for them so they choose the all or nothing approach and then, because that works for them, they insist it’s the right & only way. I agree with you – I strive for moderation or balance. I spent too many years and too much energy agonizing over food that was labeled good or bad. Now I don’t use those labels and food is just food.

  6. Marion

    Hi Lori! I think that “Know thyself” is important here. The way you eat, with so many little desserts and treats, is not something I could manage. Although you are successful at it, I cannot be. I have never figured out how to eat a little bit of something that I’d love to eat a huge portion of. I’ve tried, and it always backfired. So it must be a matter of personality or addiction or something. But a person has to find a formula that *personally* works. I have to stay away from refined carbs to keep off the 65 pounds I lost. 😀
    Marion´s last blog post ..Take a Peek into My Fitness Journals and Food Journals (2007-2013)

  7. Satu

    But those bagels look so innocent! 🙂

    I’ve learned to eat candy and chocolate in moderation in the last couple of years. I can even stash the forbidden foods in my “pantry”. Nevertheless I often realize I’ve bought myself more candy than I need to satisfy my sweet tooth – so the little voice that tells me this is the last morsel of chocolate I’m going to get in while I is still alive in some little corner of my brain.
    Satu´s last blog post ..How to Dress A Plump Middle-Aged Female

  8. Helen

    You and I are quite similar in our approach to food. I have few foods I banish completely. Occasionally, I will notice that a food I’d been fine with (nuts for example), suddenly I want more than I should have and I get a sort frantic feeling. When that happens, I remove that food for a while. I honestly cannot think of one single food I would say I could NEVER have again. I can think of some I never WANT to have again, like liver 😉

  9. Linda

    A great post! Well, I pretty much stuck a very strict form of eating the last few months, lost good weight but got sicker in the process with my liver disease and then getting anemia. This was mainly because I blocked out a lot of carbs. I know a lot of people are doing that these days and if it works for them, great, but iit did not work for me. So now I am a moderation person and I feel much better because of it. Bagels are a good example for me too of something I have out vs at home as well. Love them and after months of not having them, it feels great to have them once a week or so. I love Satu’s comment on them looking so innocent! LOL My weight loss will go slower but in the end, I know that this moderation thing is something I can live with long term (like forever lol). I do recognize that for some it is not possible.
    Linda´s last blog post ..Balancing Act

  10. Sheryl C.

    I have tried the moderation approach with sweets in the past. I can do it for a while, but if I am out of “the zone,” which everyone gets out of now and then, I find myself wanting sweets all the time and a little is never enough. I kept asking myself what I could eat that would satisfy my particular craving and be enough. There was nothing. If I eat it, I want more. It is easier for me to just not eat it. I don’t crave it that way and I get very practiced at saying no to it. It is the only method that has ever worked long-term for me. I guess I am a true sugar addict (and I mean literally). Saying no to sweets is a small price to pay to regain my health and happiness with my body. I went 3 years without them in my early 20’s and I wish I had never started eating them again. As soon as I started eating them, the weight came back on.
    Sheryl C.´s last blog post ..Day 2 – Atkins

  11. Elizabeth

    I completely agree with you! There are certain foods I haven’t completely given up, but I do the same thing as you-eat them out. Moderation can be hard sometimes, but I always feel very good when I am more balanced. Getting rid of all the all or nothing thinking was what really helped me (I still struggle with it from time to time).
    Elizabeth´s last blog post ..Responding

  12. Julie

    I like your post today, so true. I hate it when people say don’t eat pizza or burgers. Just like bagels, it’s OK once in awhile, in moderation. I love having my own version of moderation, I couldn’t imagine never eating pizza or a burger again!

  13. Sharon

    Best line in your whole post..”That’s because that is their version of moderation and not mine. Moderation is a very personal thing.” That is spot on. I know what my definition is and what “moderation” means to me. I’m thankful for so many encouragers who can be supportive without being critical even when their version might be different from mine. The “my way is the only way” viewpoint doesn’t serve anyone well, does it?
    Sharon´s last blog post ..A Pause For Celebration Of A Different Sort!

  14. Leah

    I have been made to feel that “everything in moderation” is a copout at times, though never intentionally I’m sure. My idea of moderation is similar to yours and I agree with you 100%.

  15. Joanne

    I agree with John whole heartedly. I also think you’re right in that moderation is very personal and that we have to start slowly. It takes a long time to form new habits and changing our eating preferences is one of the toughest. Our favorite food is all around us and very often our friends and family want to make us happy by making those favorites available to us.
    You’re the image of healthy in body and mind, Lori. Keep it up.
    Joanne´s last blog post ..Our Day at The NYS Fair

  16. Biz

    At one of the law firms I worked at Lori, they offered FREE bagels every single day. That and orange juice, milk, peanut butter and jelly. As a poor single Momma back then, I would probably have a peanut butter and jelly bagel both for breakfast and lunch – nearly five days a week!

    I love your style of eating, but agree, there are certain trigger foods, like the peanut butter cups, that are just best kept out of the house – good for you!
    Biz´s last blog post ..Flashback Friday

  17. Grace @ Grace Dishes

    I love love love…bagels! I haven’t had one in a long time though just because the opportunity hasn’t presented itself and I need something higher in protein in the morning.

    I am a huge supporter of moderation. Eliminating certain foods from my diet only makes me crave them more. It annoys me when people assume because I’m eating healthy I only eat rabbit food. Healthy food can be tasty too! I do have to watch my sweet tooth and carb intake though 🙂

    Have a wonderful weekend 🙂 You are doing fabulous.

  18. Katie

    This is a great post!! Moderation definitely means different things to different people, but I look at it the same way you do. Giving up the all-or-nothing mentality was one of the biggest factors for me in losing the weight.
    Katie´s last blog post ..Post-marathon plans

  19. Jody - Fit at 55

    I AM SO WITH YOU LORI!!!!!!!!! I think we know ourselves best & if we have trouble with a certain food or foods, just don’t bring in the house. BUT if we are working our asses off to be healthy & fit – why not enjoy the things we love in moderation like bagels for you & other things for me. Like you, bagels are no longer in the house but I have found breads I love.. I eat my weekend cookie treats – it is not a cop out if you manage it right! 🙂
    Jody – Fit at 55´s last blog post ..Protein Powder, Stevia & YES, Brand Love!

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