Moderation is a Sham

IMG_3436 “Everything in moderation.”

You hear this all the time, everywhere.

But what does it really mean?

Everything in moderation = Everything sometimes.

But when is sometimes?

Is sometimes your 94-year-old Nana’s birthday?

Or is it a Wednesday?

Allow me to elaborate:

For most people, “moderation” means special occasion.

But how do you do you know when it’s a special occasion?

It’s really hard to define (and stick with your definition of) a special occasion.

It’s almost as hard as having to define “moderation.”

Because they’re basically the same thing.

You might think you have a definition for your special occasion…

…but then you find that special occasion occurring more and more until it isn’t so special.

I call this “Special Occasioning.”

When everything becomes a special occasion.

When everything becomes a special occasion, it stops being a special occasion, and you find yourself having to go back to square one and re-define your special occasion.

If you keep doing this over and over, it’s very similar to following a diet protocol and then rebelling against that diet…

So how do you eat things in moderation?

You don’t.

You see, eating things in moderation is a secret part of that pesky diet mentality.

It’s a stealthy way of labeling “bad” foods,

and getting stuck in a nasty restrict-rebel-regret cycle.

You would totally say that you only eat muffins in moderation.

But would you ever say that you eat carrots or broccoli in moderation?

Maybe…if carrots or broccoli gave you digestive distress…in which case they would be a not-best food choices for YOU in particular.

Do you see what I mean?

Eating in moderation is a way of putting a food restriction on yourself.

Even if it sounds sensible, it’s still a food restriction.

It only sounds sensible because the diet-guru-media told you that eating in moderation is the sensible thing to do.

Food restrictions really only work when they’re health-motivated as opposed to weight loss motivated.

When you avoid a certain food because know how a certain food makes you feel health-wise. When you can make the conscious, well-informed choice to eat it or not.

It’s time to forget about eating in moderation.

To let go of “good” and “bad” foods and just eating to nourish, to fuel and to enjoy your eating experience.

You might be scared to let go of your “in moderation” rule.

That’s totally normal.

Letting go takes time.

You’re worried about what will happen when you can eat muffins whenever you want.

Will you eat muffins until you die of a muffin overdose?

Probably not.

I don’t eat any food in moderation.

Even ice cream.

I eat it when I feel like it.

And because I’ve given myself that freedom, I tend to not feel like it all that often.


When I do feel like it, I eat it.

I enjoy it.

And then I move on.

Because to me, ice cream is a somewhat special food, but not a “bad” food that I should feel ashamed about eating.

(There’s absolutely NO shame in eating. Ever. But that’s a topic for another post).

For some tips for how to shift your focus from weight to health, check out these posts:

Stop Setting Weight Loss Goals: I promise your life will be easier

Separating Real Weight Loss Tips from the Diet Malarkey

5 Tips to Lovingly Break Free from your Sugar Cravings

Cadbury Mini Eggs: My Key to Ending Diet Deprivation

Do you trust your inner body cues?

 How do you feel about moderation?


11 Responses to Moderation is a Sham

  1. Evelyn aka CarbSane July 7, 2013 at 4:14 PM #

    I understand moderation threatens your business.

  2. Kate {Eat, Recycle, Repeat} July 9, 2013 at 11:11 PM #

    I couldn’t agree more about moderation, though I had never thought of it as a form of food restriction. So true! It is just an excuse to treat ourselves with less respect than we deserve

  3. Pablo Matthews July 11, 2013 at 3:53 AM #

    Yeah, eating out is a special occasion. Because I don’t do fast food and I can’t afford to go out to a nice restaurant any more. If I’m very lucky, my parents will invite me out and they’ll pay for my meal. And yes, I make home made meals from scratch to save money. I bake bread once a week, slice it and freeze it and take out two slices a day. It’s cheaper than buying a loaf of bread. Tonight I made käsespätzle. I can’t even get that at the one local German restaurant. So I made my own special occasion. Happy Teacher appreciation week to me.

  4. Elaina Newton (@TheRisingSpoon) July 12, 2013 at 12:20 PM #

    I guess I’m one of the few people that lovingly uses the Aristotle quote (“everything in moderation”) and interprets as a way of life WITHOUT eating restrictions. In other words, I use it as a non-guilt philosophy. I eat what I want to eat when I’m hungry and that’s what I consider “everything in moderation”. However, I can see how dieticians might be using this in a negative way. I mean, when they say to only eat one tiny piece of dark chocolate at night, who has the self control to do that!? 🙂

    • Elaina Newton (@TheRisingSpoon) July 12, 2013 at 12:23 PM #

      The most important take back from the idea/quote in my opinion, is the ideal of balance. That is the virtue that Aristotle is discussing. Avoiding excess and deficiency in life. Of course you will have your ups and downs, but seeking the balance is a restorative thing.

      • Allison July 12, 2013 at 12:58 PM #

        I totally agree! I think that most people don’t think of moderation this way. Thinking of it in terms of balance is a great perspective to have.

    • Marta October 19, 2013 at 8:58 PM #

      Thank you for saying that, Elaina! I couldn’t agree more with your comment and disagree more with this article. I think it’s demonizing a completely sensible approach to life. To me, in moderation simply means not 2-3 cupcakes every day or not a whole pint of ice-cream every day… In moderation does not have to mean on special occasions only… You can enjoy all the yummy but not so healthy stuff in moderation without depriving yourself, feeling guilty or making the yummy stuff to be the “bad foods”…

      • Allison October 19, 2013 at 10:33 PM #

        Thanks for your feedback, Marta. I think your idea of moderation is exactly what I was striving to describe in this article– eating healthy foods and not as healthy foods in balance and not needing to label it as moderation. I think people struggle
        Most with the label and what it means to them
        Personally. And feeling like moderation needs to be restrictive when in fact it’s just finding a healthy balance.


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