Saturday, October 30, 2010

Moderation

A friend is about to launch a program at church that is designed to both raise money for a charity and to help members lose weight.  I offered my help and wrote a list of simple weight loss tips.  Thinking about this upcoming project and the number of individuals in the US who are either overweight or obese, it dawned on me what is at the core of this epidemic:  Americans have lost sight of the meaning of moderation.  When it comes to our cooking, eating, and dining out habits, we don't understand that term.  


We only believe in excess.  In restaurants, portion sizes are now double or triple (or even more) what they were a generation ago.  Although serving sizes are listed on grocery store packaging, we blatantly ignore the labels and consume until multi-serving packages are empty.  We take seconds (and sometimes thirds) at mealtimes, eat large desserts, and then snack between meals and before bedtime.  We are constantly surrounded by food, most of which is high in calories, fat, and sugar.  All this excess leads to and sustains weight gain.


Even when we choose to diet and try to cut back on our food consumption, we go all out.  We have fads:  low-fat and low-carb are the most recent.  In embracing these diets, we don't eat less, we continue to eat to excess, just within a particular food group.  Once a woman I know who was supposed to be dieting was noshing on a bag of candy.  When she saw the puzzled look on my face, her response was, "It's okay; it's low-fat."  


Even if we manage to lose weight on these plans, there tends to be a boomerang affect.  These unhealthy diets lead to rapid weight loss (often it's just water loss).  Most of these diets are unsustainable over the long-run and we return to the eating habits that caused the weight gain in the first place.  


So many individuals have an all-or-nothing attitude towards their weight and eating.  Either they are on a diet, where they are extremely restrictive in when and what they will eat, or they develop a laissez-faire attitude where the belief is that "I'm not on a diet so I can enjoy eating all the junk food I want."



Of course, we have the other end of the spectrum - those who develop eating disorders in their quest to control their weight and their lives.  I'll leave this complicated topic to the experts.


What we need to do is develop a mindset that is based on moderation.  No food or food group is outright forbidden, it's just we need to keep an eye towards moderation.  Having this approach to food allows for enjoyment of food AND long-term weight loss.  A win-win deal.

10 comments:

LRS4AMANDA said...

Hi Cherie,

You are 100% correct! I always say "everything in moderation". And I am an avid label reader, it is such an eye opener!

Linda

Cherie said...

Linda, I get lazy sometimes and stop reading labels. When I resume this habit, as you said, it's an eye opener.

wanda said...

Mom was in the hospital from Wed through Sat on a liquid diet due to an intestinal issue. On Saturday they upgraded her to a 'regular' diet. She went from a broth, jello and juice, to a plate just overflowing with meatballs, tomato sauce, noodles, green beans, and a slice of garlic bread that must have been 3x8 inches. It was enough food to feed a small family. I know that's what we expect from restaurants but I couldn't believe the hospital provided that much food for one person's lunch.

Cherie said...

Wanda, there goes my faith in the registered dietitians they have on staff at hospitals.

Glad your mom's out of the hospital.

Fiona said...

Great post Cherie. It's a shame things have gotten so out of control that we no longer know how to eat 'normally'.

Cherie said...

Fiona, it's so true. We now have to be trained to learn what normal eating is.

Shona~ LALA dex press said...

This looks like an interesting course:

http://www.latimes.com/health/hc-scsu-professor-overconsumption-20101103,0,2990727.story

Cherie said...

Shona, thanks for sharing the link. Too bad I'm not close enough to take the course.

Lisa Sharp said...

You have no idea how often I try and explain this to people! I have lost over 30 lbs by eating in moderation. People ask me how I lost weight and I say "by eating." They give me a puzzled look and I go on to tell them how I eat a diet of organic real food made from scratch which includes baked goods, carbs, full fat dairy, etc... I just eat it in moderation, don't eat fast food (haven't in almost 2 years), limit meals out, stay active, and most importantly it's all real food!

Cherie said...

Lisa, thanks for sharing how moderation worked for you. I just heard about someone who lost 14 pounds just by giving up sugary snacks!