The Myth of Moderation

Here in the United States tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and for many, the day typically includes many compromises; especially overeating on disease promoting foods to the point of misery. What a perfect time to be reminded of the pitfalls of the myth of “everything in moderation.” Dr. Scott Stoll, a board certified physician in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation; along with being the team physician for Lehigh University, team physician to the USA Bobsled and Skeleton Team, department chair of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Coordinated Health Medical Director, member of the Whole Foods Medical and Scientific Advisory Board, national speaker on achieving optimal health through nutritional excellence and exercise, and faculty member of the Nutritional Education Institute will be sharing valuable insights to bust the popular moderation fallacy. Welcome to Disease Proof, Dr. Stoll.

 

We are now on the threshold of a beautiful holiday season that is filled with joy, family, wonderful traditions, and numerous dietary landmines. Traditional foods of the holiday season are typically the least healthy and most addictive foods that can trigger destructive cycles of overeating and binge eating.  How can one safely navigate the season ahead? By avoiding the myth of “everything in moderation."

Why do so many people find that by the first of January they have gained weight and derailed their healthy diet? One common justification, as people reach for a piece of chocolate or second piece of dessert, is that one can safely eat everything in moderation. The underlying belief is that somehow the moderate consumption of unhealthy food is okay and won’t cause any harm. However, science has verified that even small amounts of these foods cause harm to the body; and for many that struggle with food addiction and disease, the moderate consumption of addictive, sugar laden and processed foods can be dangerous.

“Everything in moderation” is a deceptive belief, because there is no established standard for moderate intakes of food. 

How much is too much and where does one draw the line? Without a standard, moderation is a continually moving target; motivated by cravings and desires that promote the overconsumption of unhealthy foods. The only outcome in the end is disease, guilt, and feelings of failure.

Moderation thinking ultimately depends on one’s ability to accurately recall food intakes and amounts. How much was eaten today, yesterday, or last week? The preponderance of studies on dietary food recall found that people generally under-report or forget the consumption of unhealthy foods. 

I want to encourage you to enjoy all the beautiful things of the upcoming holiday season and create new memories with healthy food alternatives. Don’t be caught off guard by the myth of moderation, but instead proactively set your eyes on the prize of optimal health. 

 

  • Prepare mentally and have a plan in place regarding how you will handle the tempting seasonal foods that will appear in break rooms, living rooms and dining rooms. 
  • Know yourself, your weaknesses, and the potential for food addiction.  Avoid circumstances that may lead to temptation. 
  • Prepare healthy meals for your guests, or if you are a dinner guest, take healthy alternatives to share with others.

                 

Don’t let the myth of moderation lead you astray. Excellent health is never found in moderate effort, but rather in excellent dietary habits that are consistently and diligently applied to each new day and situation over time. 

 

Happy Holidays!

 

Optimal health is for life

In less than a minute, while waiting at many checkout lanes in America, one can be inundated with the latest women’s magazine articles about revving up metabolisms. Anything from stimulant pills, special foods and exercises, and even continual eating have been touted by the so-called dieting experts. One can also watch most any episode of a popular TV show and see fitness trainers screaming metabolism lectures in the faces of crying, obese contestants.

In a recent post titled, “Metabolic rate: the slower, the better” Dr. Fuhrman busted the metabolic myth. He stated that eating high nutrient, low calorie foods helps achieve a slower metabolism that has many health promoting and anti-aging benefits. Basically, a slower metabolism is highly favorable for optimal health and longevity.

For me personally, I can eat the exact same thing as I did the year that I lost 100 lbs and gain weight now. When I was obese, I could consume a whopping 3700 calories per day just to maintain that size. Now, because my body is well-nourished, closer to an ideal weight, and functioning at a slower metabolism, I require much less food. If I’m careless and eat when I’m not truly hungry, the weight can easily creep back on.   

For example, this past winter, due to my slower metabolic rate and living in northern Indiana, I was constantly cold. I tried layering extra clothing and drinking hot herbal teas, but the only thing that genuinely comforted me was a bowl of warm oatmeal. I would eat it mid-afternoon when I was the coldest; not because I was hungry, but because I was cold. I would literally “hug” the hot bowl and let the steam warm my face! Ahhhh . . . . 

However, the scales told me that that was stupid. Thankfully, when I listened to my body’s signals for true hunger and made wise choices again, the weight dropped off. 

Again, this past summer, with longer days, the kitchen became “alive” about 9:30 pm when my husband and children gathered after evening activities. Again, I wasn’t hungry, but in the midst of my family’s “social hour,” I nibbled. Well, once again, the scales revealed my stupidity. 

A well-nourished, healthy body really does require much less food than expected. There’s a learning curve to maintaining great health, but if one uses common sense in implementing:

  1. eating healthfully

  2. eating only when hungry

  3. and stopping when satisfied

Optimal health is for life.    

 

 

image credit -  flickr: rockymountainhigh

Why?

  • Why take time to thoroughly study Eat to Live and Eat for Health?
  • Why read Dr. Fuhrman’s newsletters?
  • Why listen to his teleconferences?
  • Why ask Dr. Fuhrman medical or weight loss questions when they arise?
  • Why post struggles/victories and receive encouragement from others?
  • Why seek extra help through the withdrawal phase?
  • Why persevere through the toxic cravings?
  • Why learn true hunger signals?
  • Why get up and keep going when a slip-up happens?
  • Why stock a cooler with high nutrient foods when away from home?
  • Why learn to make delicious bean soups, smoothies and homemade ice-creams?
  • Why go to the gym in January when it’s below zero and dark outside?
  • Why ask family and friends for their support?
  • Why eat differently than 99.9% of the rest of the population?
  • Why put forth the effort to earn health back?
  • Why even bother when one can take meds for just about anything?

Sleeping Bear Dunes, one of the largest sand dunes in the world; located on the northwestern shore of Lake Michigan. Many from the Midwest make their annual trek up its steep slopes to see the breathtaking views from the various summits. I’m no exception. It’s become a part of my summer tradition since childhood. 

However, as food addiction and resulting malnutrition took over, I felt like the ‘real’ me became trapped in a body that I no longer recognized. I became a stranger to myself and climbing the dunes was a thing of the past. I became a lawn chair spectator of others from the distant island of captivity. Obesity and poor health robbed me of so much, and truly, only in hindsight, do I now realize how much I missed for twenty years of my life and my family’s life. Unfortunately, the food addict and his/her family adjust to the many handicaps of poor health, and both parties become accustomed to the negative changes. 

female on sand duneLast week, not only did I make the 3.5 hour round-trip hike up and down sandy dunes out to Lake Michigan and back, but it was exhilarating and I did it with much ease!  [The picture on the left was taken at the bottom of the final descent.]  I was finally a participant in my family’s life at Sleeping Bear, and someday I hope to be an active participant in my future grandchildren’s life also, if/when that time comes.  I refuse to be found sitting on a lawn chair by myself at the parking lot . . . . .

  • testing blood sugars and adjusting food and/or medications accordingly
  • out-of-breath due to physical exertion
  • fatigued from sleep apnea and the non-stop burden of carrying around excess weight
  • nursing achy joints, feet, and chronic back pain
  • experiencing muscle weakness from heart meds
  • living in constant fear of an impending heart attack
  • depressed and feeling hopeless due to all of the above

 

So why do the things that have successfully proven to get many out of food addiction and restore health? 

As I was leaping down the final descent, a Dad and Mom with four children were attempting to climb up. Both parents were morbidly obese and the late morning sun was starting to pelt down on them. They looked exhausted and their energetic children were ready to explore the great outdoors. It was in that moment that I realized once again, the reason why I’m committed to doing those things that Dr. Fuhrman recommends to live in optimal health!        

Tell us your reasons for choosing optimal health

 

 

image credits: personal.umich.edu; tripadvisor.co.uk

The potential danger of feeling great

Over the past few months I've felt the best of my entire life. I can pedal up hills on my bike that last year I could only walk. I can do killer, intense interval workouts at the Y that a year ago I could only dream of doing. My exercise sessions are exhilarating! I'm amazed at how far my body has come in less than two years when I couldn’t even run to catch a fly-away ball in the backyard, or climb a flight of stairs without shortness of breath.

However, therein lies the potential problem.

Dr. Fuhrman recently reminded me that because I had let myself go for so many years I damaged my health in the process; even though I can't see or feel the damage.  He also cautioned me that now it's imperative to keep putting superior nutrition into my body to continue to repair, cleanse and heal the cellular damage caused by years of eating the standard American diet.

In other words, now's not the time to kick back and relax with the I-feel-great mentality and start compromising on superior nutrition. There's a huge difference between mediocre/good nutrition AND excellent/superior nutrition. Plus, it’s those little, innocent compromises that do the most damage, because they pave the way for bigger, more damaging compromises on down the road. It's going to take years of eating superior nutrition to prevent disease and heal the damage that’s already been done. Just because I feel great doesn't mean that my body is out of the woods.

 

Eating for optimal health is for life; no matter how great one feels.

No compromises. No excuses.

 

image credit: dutchlabusa.com