Moderation: Always, Never, or Occasionally?


One time I asked a question on Facebook about whether or not we should tell our kids “No,” to certain foods. One person said she did not think that we should tell our kids “no” to any foods completely, but rather teach them moderation in all things.

Her comment got me thinking about the phrase “Everything in Moderation,” and how exactly phrase applies to weight loss and weight maintenance. I then found the above quote and thought more about moderation.

I am a believer in moderation as evidenced by the fact that we do have some processed foods in the house, I bake desserts on occasion, and we go out to eat every great once in a while. However, there are some foods that I do not believe in moderation for because those foods are ones I feel as so unnecessary and unhealthy that I avoid them altogether. In other words, we do practice abstinence with certain foods.

So for me, the phrase “everything in moderation” really is not quite true. My phrase would be, “most things in moderation.”

Some examples of foods that I abstain from completely include:

1) Sugar sweetened beverages such as fruit juices.

2) Vitamin water

3) Sodas

4) Fast food

5) Margarine and trans fats

6) Fake food like Velveeta cheese, processed boxed meals, and pre-packaged desserts

7) White bread

8) Artificial sweeteners

Moderation for me is more about nutrition and less about calories.

I admit that came with time. At first, I did eliminate chocolate and desserts from my diet completely. It was good for me to take a break from those kinds of foods I had very little control over. I was that person whose grocery cart seemed to steer itself to the cookie and ice cream aisle and before I knew it, there were packages of cookies and Breyer’s ice cream. Well, at least it seemed to just happen.

After the initial break-up with sugary foods, I occasionally had them but not often. I moved from abstinence to moderation with sweets. That’s still my philosophy although I respect people who avoid those types of foods altogether.

The key for me in weight loss and weight maintenance is balance.

You have to find the balance in food choices so you do not feel so deprived and just go wild and eat every dessert/sweet you can find after avoiding them for a while. (Not that that ever happened to me.)

Only you know what works for you.

Perfect moderation can work but it can be tough to be perfect. I’d encourage you to find the balance that works for you and be willing to change if it doesn’t work for you.

I’ve known a lot of people who started out with perfect abstinence toward certain foods but shifted into moderation over time. It’s okay to make changes in your diet. In fact, it’s a good thing. Because wouldn’t you rather make some changes along the way to make things work for you in the long run? A diet is only good if it helps you meet your short-term and long-term goals.

How do you handle moderation in your weight loss or weight maintenance efforts? Is it moderation with nothing off limits or most things in moderation? Diane

5 thoughts on “Moderation: Always, Never, or Occasionally?

  1. Kitty says:

    I talked about what moderation is in a post recently where I made the point that what is moderation can vary from food to food and person to person. Some people see “moderation” as basically meaning wild abandonment, anything goes. Others basically say moderation can simply be occasional eating something that isn’t abstention. I abstain from few things (the big one is alcohol). So I would say I am “moderate” on most everything else. But, how much I consider moderation varies from food to food. I eat frozen yogurt about once a month. To me, that is moderation. I have a chocolate chip cookie a few times a year. To me, that is moderation. I eat pistachios almost every day. I think that is a healthy food and I consider that moderation.

    Let me see on your list….

    Sugar sweetened beverages — I almost abstain from them. But, once every couple of years I may have a glass of actual lemonade. I probably haven’t had any in about 4 years but I could do it so I don’t consider it a total abstention. Is once every 3 years moderation?

    Vitamin water — I’ve never had

    Sodas – I occasionally have a diet soda. I don’t have them at home any more, but a few times a month I have one outside the house. I think of that as moderation.

    Fast Food — Definitely moderation on this. I don’t have it often. Maybe once every few months and I’m very careful what I eat.

    Margarine/Trans Fat – I currently endeavor to abstain from these.

    Fake Food — I eat some frozen meals that have no artificial ingredients and that I don’t consider to be fake (example: Artisan Bistro). Definitely moderation. This is maybe once or twice a week.

    White Bread – Never comes into my house. Occasionally at restaurants I’ll have a piece of bread that isn’t whole grain. This is maybe once every 2 or 3 months. To me, that is moderation

    Artificial Sweeteners – Moderation. In those occasional diet drinks and occasionally in a Quest Bar. This is a couple of times a week I would guess.

  2. Karen P says:

    I abstain from sugars, grains for binge eating. Dairy and nuts for high inflammation and binge eating, tropical fruits for high glucose readings that stay high. I do eat sugars, but in the form of non starchy veggies and some berries.

    Many millions of people abstain from certain food groups for health reasons, for religious reasons.

    I can moderate 85% chocolate and a tiny amount of certain fruits without binge eating. Abstaining saved my life. Gretchen Ruben talks about abstaining a lot in her “Better Than Before” book and a Youtube video.

    Abstaining is underused in weight management, IMO. Glad you abstain from the junky stuff! That will take you far. Everyone’s abstinence plan will look different, so it’s meant to be customized.

  3. Maria says:

    If you can find balance with moderation, it’s a good thing. Unfortunately, many of us cannot moderate certain foods. For me, sugar is one of them and given I know this about myself, I decided I need a ‘long break’ from it for a while to ‘reset’ my body. I’d like to think when I shift my thinking this will correct my past needs to overeat sugar long term and I can eat in moderation, I know others who have done this successfully. Too much of one thing is never good so finding that balance in all aspects of life is important and on occasion, re-balancing will be needed.

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