Does “All Things In Moderation” Work?

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Does “all things in moderation” work? I haven’t seen it work yet.

Just because we eat or do or use something in smaller amounts, or less frequently, doesn’t always make it okay. As our own Eco-Expert Lisa Borden puts it, there are things that really need to fall into the “not ever” category.

For example, if we know that tartrazine, found in many yellow coloured processed foods including Chef Boyardee, Mountain Dew, Kool Aid, Doritos, Corn Flakes and also some vitamins and even medications, can cause an aggravation of asthmatic symptoms, and behavioural problems like hyperactivity disorders, we probably should not consume this. Not even in moderation. This ingredient is a toxin. No matter how infrequently it is administered, it is still chemically toxic.

We love to rationalize our own behaviour as being okay in moderation. We go for manicures and get our hair dyed, and think it’s okay because we’re only doing it every few weeks, not everyday. Those chemicals being used are too toxic to go down the drain. It’s well documented that these ingredients are potential carcinogens and that manicurists and hair stylists, as a demographic, have higher than normal rates of cancer.  Is moderation still okay when better options are available?

Social smoking is smoking in moderation. Guess what? It still involves inhaling cancer-causing-toxic-waste-chemical-stink-sticks.

A common approach to healthy living is to follow the 80/20 rule- where you can eat healthy and live well for 80% of the time and then do whatever you want for the rest of the time. I wonder how well this works- once you are informed on what that other 20% is made of.

You don’t need to be perfect 100% of the time, day in and day out. If you have read UnDiet, you know that is certainly not my stance. But what about not giving yourself an excuse to ignore everything you know? That is a disservice to yourself and you deserve the best!

Eating well 80% of the time doesn’t balance out with getting that Big Mac at the drive through to reward yourself for eating organic salad all week. It doesn’t mean that if you ride your bike 80% of the time then you can leave your car idling for twenty minutes and call it even. This also doesn’t mean that you can make your meals from scratch all week and reward yourself for being ‘good’ by going out binge drinking come Friday night and follow that up with a few slices of GMO wheat flour crusted pizza with MSG laden processed pepperoni flavoured disks of animal fat.

#Quotasm #Healthwashing #UnDiet via @MeghanTelpner

Is this making sense? If we know better, why wouldn’t we want to do better? Or truly do our very best at any given time?

When we get it, when we truly make the connection, it’s no longer about 80/20 and moderation. It becomes about making decisions that honour ourselves, our family, our community and our environment. It means taking the time to be informed about the choices we make. It means being clear on what the “never ever” things are and committing to that as best we can. Every choice truly counts. 

The simplest approach, the UnDiet approach, is really simple.

  • Do your research.
  • Read labels and ask questions.
  • Make informed decisions.
  • Set a standard that makes sense and is achievable by you.
  • Know that every choice counts.

What if we all start today to do as we intend to continue? What if we plunge forth not with the allowance of all things in moderation, but instead to truly try our best, to do our best with the knowledge we have, and the resources available to us?

18 Responses to “Does “All Things In Moderation” Work?”

  1. Rebecca Tracey

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    Ahhhh I love this! I hate how people use the 80/20 thing like they’re doing something good. If you’re going to eat crap, acknowledge that it’s crap, eat it consciously and be aware of what’s triggering you to want to eat crap in the first place. Make it a choice, don’t write it off as something you’re “allowed” to do and justify it. It’s time to get out of “but it’s my cheat day!” mentality!

    Reply
    • Meghan Telpner

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      How I love you!

      Reply
  2. Chantal

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    Yes, I agree that crap is crap (whether it is GMOs, perservatives, dyes, chemicals, etc etc) and it should be avoided at ALL times as much as humanly and conciously possible. But don’t criticize the 80/20 rule!! It obviously depends what people are considering as their 20% – it should not be McD’s or binge drinking – totally agree. But in my case, my 20% are my homemade sweets that follow clean eating principals. At the same time, if I do make an oopsie (darn kid’s birthday party with M&Ms!), I make amends with myself and move on to continue a healthy lifestyle and living. We should change the way we view foods and see it as a lifestyle change and not diet tribalism!

    Reply
    • Meghan Telpner

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      This sounds like a great way to approach your diet & lifestyle! Homemade sweets are a great once-in-awhile treat (especially if you power them up with some superfoods!)

      Reply
  3. Kika

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    If someone is saying they eat well 80/20 that can very well mean that they ARE making that choice consciously- acknowledging that their diet is still imperfect. The previous commentor says not to pretend that is doing something good, but I so disagree with this attitude. Eating well 80% of the time is a big deal – especially if it is an improvement from where they began. Some of us are working extremely hard to raise families, including teens who see their peers eating crap ALL the time, to keep everyone on board and sometimes that involves making concessions. Maybe some people can acheive perfection, but I cannot. When I strive for perfection it becomes so overwhelming that I end up falling off the wagon. On the other hand, when I build in some room for less-than-perfect I feel less stress and manage to be more consistent. I believe as we know better we ought to do better but I’d encourage people to start wherever they are at rather than look down on them for not achieving perfection in their diet/lifestyle.

    Reply
    • Rebecca Tracey

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      I actually agree with you, and no one is talking about “perfect”. I think what Meghan is speaking to is the people who try really hard to eat well most of the time, but then binge drink and intentionally eat crappy foods becuase it’s their “day off”… instead of still being conscious of their choices and choosing healthy-ish options, these people chose to go “all out” to “make up” for the other days of health eating… and its that attitude that I don’t condone. Of course, many people (not everyone) (myself definitely included) eat junk once in a while, and the difference is doing it consciously rather than seeking it out because it’s part of your 80/20 // cheat-day binge. Hope that makes sense! of course, ANY healthier changes are great and no one is perfect!

      Reply
      • Chantal

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        You just made me think of Dr. Oz’s “Fat-urday”, a day where you have permission to eat what you want and claims that you can still lose weight!!! cringe!!!

        Reply
      • Kika

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        Thank you for that clarification; I think I better understand now what you meant.

        Reply
  4. sharon stanley

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    this is a great conversation. strange, but there are parts of each comment i agree with! i have made so so many positive changes since reading undiet and am thrilled with the progress i’ve made. for my age and life however, i don’t want to become so rigid that life becomes a diet of undiet…strick and unforgiving. while i have not deliberately chose and 80/20 lifestyle, i, like chantal, allow myself and family homemade sweet (honey, sucanat etc) treats occasionally and am loving fixing them and adapting old favorite recipes to a healthier alternative…it’s fun and challenging and i enjoy making and eating them…but not daily…the same with eating out, which is an activity i can enjoy with my husband and boys, just not everyday. and now, we go to places that at least have healthier choices. these are all milestones for me and while not perfect, are so so so much better than before and accomplishments on what continues to be a journey.

    Reply
  5. Sondi

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    Ugh. I hate the word moderation. It’s completely meaningless, especially in a world where crap surrounds us, and there is always an occasion where we feel we deserve food as a reward or treat – someone’s birthday, a hard day at work, a housewarming party, crossing the street, tying our shoelaces.

    Reply
  6. Ricki

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    Such an interesting conversation! I actually DO think the 80/20 principle works, but agree with Rebecca that it depends entirely on how you define what goes in the “20%”.

    My dad, hale and hearty at 92, takes no medication and still walks an hour a day and goes dancing on Sundays. :) He has lived a “moderate” life his whole life; the majority of the time, he eats well, but won’t pass up a piece of birthday cake or a glass of wine if he’s at a party or if it’s a special occasion. He never smoked and yes, he was born during an era when environmental toxins were almost nil, so he has a head start on most of us. He never (ever) eats processed junk foods; but I would so hate to think that people who are otherwise healthy should never enjoy a cocktail or homebaked treat (even if it contains white sugar/flour) on occasion.

    For people like me who aren’t capable of that kind of moderation (a slice of birthday cake could easily turn into the whole cake), yes, I agree, there should be no deviation. It’s a complex issue, I think, and no one approach ever works for everyone!

    Reply
  7. Sarah Stanley

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    I couldn’t agree more. Moderation is a word people use when they feel guilty for doing/eating something they know they shouldn’t. It’s an easy justification for poor choices. Like I’ve always said toxins are toxins regardless of moderation. A mouse might not die of eating poison on day one but on day ten it becomes deadly.

    Reply
    • Meghan Telpner

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      Exactly!

      Reply
  8. A

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    I totally agree for adults, but I worry about the kids. How would you feel if you were the 6 year old not allowed to eat cake at a birthday party?
    My approach is to fill her up with healthy foods before she goes so hopefully they won’t get too much of that GMO wheat, sugar, food-coloured overload. But 100%? I don’t think it’s fair. We can educate her, and she can make her own decisions.

    Reply
  9. Rob Wallbridge

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    This may seem like a minor point, but in the interest of making informed choices, allow me to point out that “GMO wheat” crust pizza does not exist. GMO wheat is not being commercially grown or marketed anywhere in the world.

    Reply
  10. Libby

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    I think this is one of the best posts you have ever written. It is 100% true. We’ve definitely been brainwashed into “little bit won’t do any harm” – I just heard my Mum say that about feeding bread to a one year old – I thought it was definitely do harm if he had an allergy to it. Having said that I am far from perfect and still trying to reach to point where I don’t think having something bad for me is ever okay. Thanks for continuing to teach me and encourage me to make better choices :-).

    Reply
    • Meghan Telpner

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      Thank you Libby!

      Reply

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