Wednesday, January 18, 2012

What is "Eating in Moderation"?

I've been thinking about discussing this notion of "eating in moderation" for some time.

After watching Paula Deen's interview on the Today Show yesterday, it kicked off my typing.  Time to talk, but first watch this video if you haven't already.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking newsworld news, and news about the economy

What is 'eating in moderation'?  Who defines this?  What foods are we talking about?  How much is moderate for one person versus another?  

This saying has irked me for years.  It is overused and lacks any understanding or structure.  Indeed, it is completely subjective.  Entirely defined by one's personal discretion.  Which should be fine because we all have free will and choice.  But, it's not fine when we live in a culture saturated with misinformation and deception about food.  

When we are pummelled with misleading messages about how to eat, and then marketed food products that take us far from our roots in real food, how can we EVER eat in moderation?  Who eats a Big Mac or Krispy Kremes in moderation?  Is there such a thing?  

I could say that I eat chocolate in moderation, but by someone else's definition they could say I eat too much of it (and perhaps I do).  Yet, someone else might say I eat very little relative to their own consumption!  And, is there a moderate amount of kale and leafy greens to eat?  Because for all the chocolate I eat "in moderation", I probably eat more leafy greens in one day than someone else eats in a week.  (Paula, I doubt you're eating dark green leafy salads every day and drinking green smoothies.  Somehow I don't think your saturated fat consumption is "moderate".)

And, I'm not picking on Paula.  I've actually always enjoyed her cooking persona and spirit, despite probably being her culinary polar opposite.  This video just exemplifies how much we use and abuse the term of moderation to excuse really poor food choices.  It's an acceptable term used by everyone, health professionals included.  So, we can throw it out there and eat just about anything we like.  

I don't think there is any 'eating in moderation' in our society.  I wish we would banish that saying and look at what we are really consuming.  Be responsible for making healthier food decisions.  Own up to eating crap, and make that the first step to working to eat less of it.  

And, the interesting thing is... the more nutrient-dense plant-based foods you eat, the less junk you want.  True enough.  Yes, you may still want a rich, sweet, or salty snack.  Have it and enjoy it.  Because you are otherwise better nourished, I'll wager that you'll want less of it.  And, you will probably buy (or make) one that is closer to its food roots than a Twinkie.  

I hope that with all the attention this news with Paula Deen is getting, that some lightbulbs go off about our SAD diet.  That moderation is more an excuse than a definition.  I don't know if Paula will address the real cause of her health crisis and make lifestyle changes.  I'd like to see it, but think it's doubtful.  Yet, it gives us a chance to evaluate our own way of eating and living, and work towards something better. 

Because, what's the point of all this "moderate" eating if it brings us to a place of lack of wellness, general malaise, or worse... disease.  There is no "moderate" amount of diabetes, heart disease, or cancer - is there?  

Seems to me that all this moderate eating of meat, dairy, and junk is bringing us to a place of moderate health (at best).  Well, I want more for myself, and more for my family.  I want great health and abundant happiness for my family.

And, while some say diet is only part of the puzzle - I assert it's a mighty big piece of the puzzle, if not the biggest.  Bigger than genetics, certainly where heart disease, type-2 diabetes, and even cancer are concerned. 

Let plant-powered foods take over!  Fill up that big piece of the puzzle with the goodness from a whole-foods vegan diet.  Eat with nutritional abundance in mind, not moderation.

24 comments:

Tina said...

What a great post! I've been sorting out my opinion/feelings about this whole thing-I'm not there yet. I do know one thing for certain, I find it deplorable that she kept this hidden until an endorsement deal was secured. So incredibly American-take a pill to cover it up, don't bother to fix the real problem. I do believe that everyone is responsible for their own choices & you don't have to cook/eat her food. BUT she is certainly not helping the skyrocketing health & obesity issues in this country.

Amy said...

I've been thinking of this exact thing! "Moderate"- is that once a month? Once a week? At every meal, but in small portions? Moderation is vague, but I know it shouldn't lead you to Type II Diabetes.

I'm sure Paula's a nice person, and I wish her well, but I'm surprised/disappointed by her peddling of really, REALLY unhealthy foods followed by her endorsement of pills to help you deal with the consequences of eating those foods- and making money off both things. I hope she comes around and realizes the power of a healthy diet!

tweal said...

Well said Dreena!

kristin said...

Amen! Totally agree with everything you said in the post - especially the part about once you start eating healthy, the less you crave the junk. The last line is great - nutrition dense, not "moderation".

Epicurean Vegan said...

Great post! Wow, she was so full of excuses! I liked how Al tried not to let her dodge the food questions, but she managed to skirt around them. She mentioned that she's working with a pharmaceutical company and said that people with type 2 need to take their medicine and it made me ill. She can do what she wants and I truly wish her the best, but she's not about to give up the Fatty Food Empire she has built. It's sad. I agree, we need to stop hiding behind this "all in moderation." If she's been eating like that for years (as she said) she wouldn't have diabetes now. Duh.

VegWhoHatesTofu said...

Love this post & I totally agree about eating in moderation. It doesn't really mean anything, just an excuse to continue eating junk. What is really sad about this whole situation is that now Paula is not only influencing her fan's food choices, but also what medication they will take. I think it is irresponsible for someone who obviously doesn't have a medical background, or a clue about healthy eating habits, to be promoting a medication like this, and backing it up by telling people to "eat in moderation". Hopefully people will see how ridiculous this is, but I'm sure many will buy into it. And the fact that this seems to all be a big money making scheme just makes me sad. I hope Paula wises up in time to help herself and others!

Becky said...

I agree, Paula Deen is a very likeable lady and I feel for her, having to deal with this in the spotlight. I can see how she would feel defensive as she has built a career around those unhealthy foods - tough to admit that they probably contributed to her disease.

I really wish and hope that she would accept the help offered to her from PCRM...there are so many inspiring stories that come from that organization of people who have successfully controlled or reversed their disease through dietary changes, often going off meds...how amazing would it be if she could experience those amazing changes!

Carrie™ said...

This is a great post! I agree with everything you said Dreena and with everything the others have said in their comments. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. I don't make any of Paula Dean's recipes nor do I watch her show. I did see her on an episode of Kathy Griffin's show and just watching her in a nice home, yelling "turd alert" because her dog had messed on the floor was just too much. LOL!!

vegAnn said...

I know that a woman having 1 alcoholic drink per day is considered drinking in "moderation". Something about having a drink every day doesn't seem so "every now and then". I'll never understand that word.

Me said...

She has talked about the genetics portion of it too. Myself being concerned about certain risk factors i face genetically, I recently heard the best analogy about genetics and diseases: "genetics load the gun, lifestyle pulls the trigger". Couldn't have been said better.

eva @VegucatingMyKid said...

the paula deen thing is all over blog land--and i am enjoying all the perspectives that have come from this issue...thanks for bringing up the moderation issue...it's a tough one to describe, as moderation means different things to different people...one thing i have not seen in the blogsphere, is the issue that paula deen is a big-time smoker as well...maybe she'll get a chantix endorsement as well?
ps just bought one of your cookbooks today!

VintageDanielle said...

Wonderful perspective. I too often wonder about if I'm eating too much or too little of something. My chocolate portion is always bigger than everyone elses haha. I hope people are not taking Paula seriously when it comes to healthy eating and lifestyle.

Anonymous said...

I really wanted to share the link to your paula deen post on facebook, but facebook wouldn't let me, saying the link to your blog contains images which are "too spammy". Just letting you know. I was sad by this, because I really like your blog. It wouldn't even let me share the front page of your blog. :(

Dreena said...

Great to hear "y'all's" perspectives on this. ;) This story will go on a while I think. She doesn't seem settled with what she's doing. Not that I think she'll ever make significant health changes. But, something doesn't seem to be clicking with all these appearances she's doing, not sure if she'll do something different in the next year or two.

Eva, I only just learned she was a smoker (through all this press). My goodness, I'm surprised she reached the age she is, it's amazing how resilient the human body is.

Like many of you, I'm concerned about the message this sends, not what Paula does personally - that's her call. It's the devoted fan base that may follow this lead, continue eating really unhealthy foods, and then think "Paula's doing it".

Carrie, that's so funny, if only she knew the amount of feces in meat she consumes. :( ugh!

anonymous, glad you told me about that. I had trouble posting the link yesterday too, and thought it was just a sporadic thing. You CAN get around it if you want. Don't use the fb button under the post. Rather, copy the address link to my post, then paste it into your status on fb - that's what I did yesterday. Please try/do so! And share the message that fb is trying to censor my vegan blog, b/c I'm pretty sure that's what's going on here. Ridiculous.

MelissaMCadle said...

I couldn't agree more! For me, "moderation" is indulging in something once a day and the rest of the stuff has to be "healthy." But someone else might say that's too much. And, I'm disappointed Paula isn't making a statement that she intends to eat "healthier." Instead she uses the term "moderation" and taking a pill.... ugh!

Nicole said...

Dreena, this is really well written and I totally agree with you (as usual). I get pretty comfortable eating the way we do and it's often a shock to realize that people are still eating all that crap - regularly. However, I have a teensy problem with this post ... it doesn't contain the lemon-kissed blondies recipe!!

Anonymous said...

It is a very sad situation. The unfortunate issue with Type II diabetes vs Type I diabetes is that with Type II, people feel like they are getting a free ticket to continue with unhealthy choices and lifestyle. Their bodies slowly fall apart and they don't notice the drastic, immediate and sometimes life-threatening consequences of their choices a Type I diabetic notices. Often Type II can be controlled by.......diet alone!!!!! People can often cure themselves of Type II diabetes with a healthy diet, exercise and weight loss. Genetics are not as big a risk factor as some like to believe when it comes to Type II. Type I and Heart disease are another story. Genetics play a huge roll in these diseases, however, healthy lifestyle will also work to lessen the degree of disease. Good post Dreena!!!!

Angie

Anonymous said...

She smokes????? WTH??? I just read that. That is the worst thing ever!!! She is going to have a big jammer.
This is what those of us in the business call Metabolic Syndrome.

She is obese, Diabetic, probably has high blood pressure and heart disease. I am sure she is on a ton of medications. I see this everyday that I work. It is textbook. It is all realted to lifestyle and she can cure herself of all of it. Sad.

She's toast!!!!!!

Time to butt out and for a greens smoothie Paula.

Angie

Dreena said...

Nicole, hee, they're coming, I promise! :) :)

skyblogger said...

I am still trying to decide if Paula Deen is evil, irresponsible, ignorant or delusional. Anyhow, thank you Dreena Burton for your positive contribution to society! Warm greetings from Florida, USA. . .

Audrey said...

Thanks for this post, Dreena. I think it is hard for many of us to gauge just what is "moderation." I hear people say the everything-in-moderation mantra a lot, as if it gives them a free pass for consuming whatever they wish. In truth, some things (like cholesterol) our body does really not need--even in moderation. So that saying always bugs me.

eatme_delicious said...

Love this post, it's a good kick in the butt. :)

The Full Plate Blog said...

As a family who eats by an "everything in moderation" mantra, I read your post with interest. While I would never wish anyone ill will-- or in her case illness-- it's just shocking how broad someone's spectrum of "moderation" can be. I only wish that she had used this news as a catalyst to educate, versus make another dime for herself. It really makes me shake my head in disappointment. As I navigate how to best feed my family, I am drawn to your blog and the inspiration within. I look forward to learning from you, as well as the readers who comment. So happy to have stumbled upon your blog via the Top 25 contest. Keep up the excellent posts!

Kathy said...

I think this is the best post on the Paula Dean issue I have read. Excellent points! I am going on twelve years of being overweight and I am finally accepting the fact that certain foods I try to eat in "moderation" or food that is allowed on a diet I am on(as long as I count the points)can trigger a snowball effect in me. Some of these foods are plain and simply totally unhealthy. Our family is naturally gravitating towards plant based food sources because of the rising cost of food. I'm interested in where this will take us and hopeful that we will live healthier lives as a result.