By Abra Pappa for NutritiousAmerica.com
The end goal, for me, with all of my clients is to reach a point where living is flexible, fun and free of denial and discipline. To discover an eating dogma that is ideal for the individual. An eating plan that supports every cell in the body and contributes to a feeling of abundance and vibrance. Which, for me, should also include eating a burger or a slice of pizza from time to time. Question is, is it really possible to moderate these indulgent meals? Or is indulgence a slippery slope?
There are as many dietary theories as there are people in the world. If you don’t subscribe wholly and completely to one specific (and seemingly strict) dogma (i.e. vegan, raw, paleo) yet you live a supportive healthy life filled with glorious whole foods, would you say you practice moderation?
Are there actually people that successfully practice moderation? Or is it truly necessary to adhere to a strict eating plan in order to transform your life with food and reach your health goals?
Here are my top 3 tips to make moderation possible and bust the myth that it is not!
Identify trigger foods then stay away from them.
One of the greatest failures of moderation is over consumption of foods that are nearly impossible to moderate. “Once you pop you just can’t stop,” is a brilliant slogan for potato chips because it is so true! Trigger foods are typically low in nutrients but high in calories, fat, sugar, or salt. Most of all, trigger foods are very easy to “pop.” If a food is “pop-able” (i.e. extremely easy to continue to pop into your mouth with little to no consciousness that it is happening) then it is time to rethink this food and give your body a break from it.
If you find a certain food impossible to moderate I suggest a six-month elimination of said food. This gives your mind, body, and soul the opportunity to reevaluate its presence or power in your life.
There is freedom in structure.
Set yourself up with guidelines around foods that may not necessarily be “trigger” foods, but tend to elicit either; an unnatural emotional response (I need my chocolate break, I need my chocolate break!!), or too frequently function as poor excuses for meals. For example, do you find yourself grabbing a hunk of cheese and crackers as a meal a few days a week? If bread is easily accessible is it the first thing you grab instead of a nutrient dense, balanced lunch or dinner? (A client this week confessed to eating toast and ketchup for dinner 3 days a week!)
Maybe cheese and/or bread require some structure? Set yourself up with a plan for these foods. Perhaps eating cheese one day per week and only as a snack or part of a meal, not the whole meal. Moderation can exist if you create structure or boundaries around foods that require you to do so
Increase nutrient dense plant foods like dark leafy greens.
Yes, every article on health is constantly telling you to eat more greens. Guess what? It’s time to listen. The more of these foods you have in your diet the easier it is to move away from the other foods that don’t support your health or health goals. This is called the crowd out theory. Eat whole nutrient dense foods and you will crowd out the less supportive, low nutrient dense foods.
There is a happy medium between a strict eating dogma and a happy, flexible healthy life. It is called moderation. And no, I do not believe it is a myth. Moderation is simply a concept that requires a bit of support and consciousness.