If you’ve been hanging around here for any length of time, you know that I practice what I preach and implement a consistently tight, not perfect approach to eating and exercise 100% of the time. Consequently, you may be surprised to learn that I have a huge beef with MODERATION. Let me explain.
There is a difference between using and abusing moderation. Like it or not, we must pick and choose. It’s what lean people do. This is not deprivation or control. It’s moderation, as it was intended.
I’m sure you know someone that uses moderation as a crutch to justify all the “small bites” that, by themselves, won’t add inches to our waistline. But you know how you’ve heard me talk about small wins adding up to be really big wins? Well, all of those small bites? Cumulatively, they add to unwanted inches and/or lbs. No bueno. 🙁
Now before we go any further, let me make clear that I am a huge proponent of buffer foods aka “preemptive cheats” (PC), a la Metabolic Effect. These are foods that won’t necessarily get us lean but that, used strategically and in moderation, do not pose any detriment to our fat loss efforts. They help to take help take the edge off, and prevent cravings for way worse things later. These things have a place in the diet, sure, but should not form its basis. Moreover, the frequency with which they occur should reflect one’s place in either the ‘attain’ or ‘maintain’ phase of fat loss.
A few of my fave PCs? Protein bars, healthy (homemade) baked treats, avocado, bacon, Cocoroons and Hail Merry’s, kale chips, craving cocoa and of course, NuttZo. Dietary fats are also common in this category as they offer a high degree of SATISFACTION, one of the three pillars of sustainable fat loss (caloric deficit and hormonal balance being the other two).
Here are a few examples, including but not limited to what I’d consider to be appropriate uses of moderation:
- A splash of cream in your first coffee of the day. Even better? A splash of unsweetened almond milk or coconut milk creamer.
- A BAS at lunch with plenty of protein, tons of fibrous veggies and a serving of dietary fat (think garnish vs. main ingredient e.g. bacon, feta, avocado, almonds); maybe a few TBS of dressing- choose oil & vinegar-based, or make your own.
- A protein bar and/or a handful of nuts
- A glass of wine or two with dinner OR a serving of clean starch OR a taste of dessert
Below is an example of ‘A Day in the Life’ that is abuse of moderation and, over time, recipe for weight gain:
- A sample (just #onebite!) in line at Starbucks while waiting for my Venti coffee with steamed breve to go alongside my oatmeal topped with a single-serve pack of nut butter. Because, satisfaction.
- A munchkin (small donut hole for my non-DD friends) at the office. Because, coworker’s birthday. But, it was alongside a protein bar so nbd.
- A sprinkle of cheese, a crumble of bacon, croutons and some ‘cado with a few TBS of dressing on my salad at lunch. But, it was salad.
- A tall skinny latte + a fun-sized Snickers. Because, afternoon energy slump.
- A handful of pita chips while cooking dinner. Because, hangry.
- A glass of vino (or two) with dinner. Because, long day. Oh. And a few bites of the kids’ mac n’ cheese, you know, just to be sure it was okay. And then, the uneaten chicken nuggets they left on their plate. Because, why waste?
- A few squares of stevia-sweetened dark chocolate, sugar-free froyo or protein ice cream after dinner. Because, dessert defense. At least it wasn’t the whole thing… or ice cream?
Maybe this hypothetical eating day resonates with you; maybe not. Though extreme, it was created for the purposes of illustrating a point.
Sure sweets are yum, for example. But, if we chose to indulge in them always, they:
- Lose their novelty (i.e. become habit– daily, automatic vs. ritual– special, occasional), and;
- Make us feel ‘blah’ both physically and emotionally. Whether this means unwanted inches on our waistline, lbs on the scale or perhaps just feelings of lethargy, skin and/or digestive issues, none of these are outcomes I’d voluntarily choose.
But, food is meant to be enjoyed and so, what are we to do? Enter: NUTRITIONAL WORKAROUNDS aka PCs aka buffer foods.
*An example from my own life:
Though I’m not much of a sweets girl (pass the salt! lol), I do love healthy baking (e.g. protein scones, breads, bars). Worth noting though that these healthIER treats are still treats and should be enjoyed, in moderation. That goes for you and, for me. Sure someone in maintain can afford more of these “treats” in their diet than someone in the attain phase of fat loss, but lean or not, treats are still treats. For optimal performance, in training and in life, the body is best nourished (i.e. thrives) on mostly real, whole foods. Always. #jerf
Bottom line: If we keep telling ourselves ‘it’s okay’ (because moderation is better than restriction), we’re going to end up even unhappier and unhealthier than when we were white-knuckling our way through the deprive-binge cycle that is the diet trap. #nothanks
If you’re not getting results and you find yourself using moderation to justify all of the little bites, might be time to check yourself. Log all of your eats (time, type & approximate amount; include the “little bites”) and biofeedback signals (i.e. energy, cravings, hunger, mood, stress and sleep; note extremes) for a bit, identify your non-negotiables and also where in your day, week you need that built-in relief most. And, if you’ve not done so already, identify your PURPOSE, get clear with your INTENTIONS and adjust accordingly.
To recap: Everything in moderation, including moderation.
Interested to hear your thoughts on moderation. Love it or hate it? How can I help? Let me know on my Facebook page! BTW You may be surprised to learn that I’ve been “tracking.” All the deets on why, how and the latest on my eats and exercise in this week’s free email newsletter going out to my VIPs early Wednesday morning. If you’re not on the list and want to be, check the right sidebar. 🙂