I graduated from Nutrition and Dietetics school with the “Everything in moderation” mentality, and I guess it’s the same for most nutrition students or anyone who has sat in Nutrition 101. So that sentence just got stuck with me and was the most repeated in social gatherings, with friends and clients. Until recently, that is. Whenever someone used to ask me about how I stay fit, I was quick to answer that I exercise and eat everything in moderation. Actually, that was not very accurate. I was pretty much a clean eater with one or two guilt-free indulgences per week if any. And as I started enjoying myself in the kitchen, I loved cooking pretty much everything from scratch. It was some kind of therapy for me, and I always felt proud of the end-product. Why buy it in a jar if you can make it at home? Of course, not all my attempts were successful but nonetheless the sense of accomplishment was always there. And then there were the occasional slips where bingeing on fast food and processed goods was the only way to go.
Was that moderation? That’s what I thought until a few days ago when I was reading about Monsanto, the biotechnology giant and their very well-played food politics in the genetic modification field. Seriously, they’re evil good! They even made a children’s activity book devoted to make them believe that biotechnology is a wonderful thing. How sick is that? The other news I was checking was the Food and Drug Association (FDA) non-approved Bisphenol-A (BPA) ban. The FDA claimed more research is needed. So even though research linked BPA exposure to many health problems from cancers, to metabolic and reproductive disorders, the responsibility lies totally on the consumer to choose from the thousands of products out there.
What do these topics have to do with moderation you say? Well, maternal instincts started kicking in as I was thinking about my baby girl and how I was going to teach her good eating habits that will last her a lifetime even though she will be bombarded with high-sugar, highly-processed, genetically-modified, BPA-exposed junk as soon as she steps outside the house. What shall I tell her? That it’s OK to have all these foods as long as it’s in moderation? That it’s OK to get poison and toxins in your body but just in moderation? We’ve established in a previous post that the body can cleanse itself via various mechanisms without needing to resort to detox diets. But are we giving it a chance to do so?
That’s when I started pondering about the “moderation term”. I am not an extremist in nature; not in my political views, or religious views…, so “in moderation” kind of made sense. Up until now. I wonder why it hadn’t occurred to me before. You never tell anyone it’s fine to smoke, just do it in moderation. So why is it acceptable with food? The moderation mentality with food is making us sick, making us fat, making us accepting of poisonous addictive behaviors and habits. That’s because whenever we are subjected to a bad food option, we just convince ourselves that if it’s just in moderation then it must be OK.
So just in food and for your health, be extreme!
- Adopt a clean diet and by clean I mean foods that are the least processed and closer to their natural state. You don’t see a list of ingredients on a banana!
- Adopt a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables in their natural form (not packaged fruit juices and jams), lean proteins including beans and legumes, and whole grains.
- Enjoy healthy fats sparingly such as olive oil, canola oil, avocados
- Consume raw, unsalted nuts (walnuts, almonds, macadamia, pistachios,…) and seeds (pumpkin, sunflower,…)
- Stay away from fried foods and high-sugar, calorie-dense treats such as chips, soda drinks, candies, doughnuts,…
- Reduce your exposure to BPA by avoiding canned foods and beverages.
- Choose products made from non-genetically modified organisms (non-GMO).
- Avoid foods with preservatives, artificial colorings and flavorings. Read the food labels well. Anyway, if you are not consuming highly processed foods, you are pretty much avoiding these perils.
- Enjoy a treat or two per week but not more, be it chocolate or a glass of wine.
- The last but maybe most important tip is cooking at home. That way, you’re in control over what goes into your food.
Food industry giants have been and still are paying billions of dollars in marketing in order to persuade us and our children that what they are selling is good for us or at least does not cause us or the environment any harm. They take ample time researching their strategies and methods. Are we taking as much as a fraction of this time thinking about what we are buying and eating? Or are we slipping into that zombie-like state they want to put us in and accepting it in the name of moderation? So just in food and for your health, please be extreme!!