Is healthy eating: “Everything in moderation?”

Is healthy eating quantifiable?

I hear all too often “I eat everything in moderation”.  Ok, well what is moderation?  How is it defined?  Moderation is the “the avoidance of excess or extremes, especially in one’s behavior or political opinions”.  Ok, that is great and all, but it still does not give us anything concrete and allows for very unhealthy behavior to be considered acceptable and even healthy.  According to Websters dictionary, moderate is:  “having average or less than average quality”.  Hmmmm, now does everything in moderation still sound like a good idea?  From the definition it seems as though it will produce, poor or “less than average” results and I would have to agree.   For example, is smoking in moderation healthy?  Is eating butter in moderation healthy? Is drinking soft drinks (diet and regular) healthy?  Is eating candy and cake in moderation healthy?  Well, if moderation for you means 1-4 times a year, you will probably get away with it without dire consequences, but, on the other hand if moderation for you means one to two times a day or once a week….Things are not looking so good.

Now, consider if you do lots of bad habits in moderation.  Remember, we are talking about EVERYTHING here.  It is no longer just one bad habit or indulgence, there is a compound effect of lots of bad habits sneaking in which means your body is constantly having to “clean up”.  It never gets a break to fulfill all its functions normally.  Then look at the flip side.  Is eating Whole Foods, specifically vegetables in moderation healthy?  Again, what does moderation mean to you?  Eating whole foods once a day is a lot better than a few times a week, once a week or a few times a year.  This is where it gets sticky and convoluted.  Eating whole foods in moderation is not healthy (your entire diet should be composed of it) and eating processed packaged foods in moderation is not healthy.  It is easy to say I believe in “everything in moderation” because that does not really mean anything and therefore you can do whatever you want with this veil of health attached to it.

I find this saying to be particularly well used in the baby boomer era and it might have been more true 50 years ago.  There were not the multitude of packaged food choices on the market as there are now.  Addtionally, the processes of commercial agriculture now relies heavily on pesticides as well as genetically modified organisms (GMO).  But, when it comes to the foods we have to choose from these days, everything in moderation is not the way to health or staying healthy.  With 70% of the average American diet being made up of processed foods * we have surpassed moderation.  It is also important to point out that 80% of the processed foods we consume in America are banned in other nations**!  

So, even if you consider moderation to be 50% or 30%, that is still too much when it comes to preventing disease.  Dr. Essylstein, a world renown heart surgeon, researcher and clinician at the Cleveland Clinic has a great saying; “moderation kills” in reference to lowering cholesterol levels.  He has seen first hand the results of a diet based around moderation, and guess what?  It landed them on his operating table for bypass surgery or more.  Joe Cross of the documentary “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead” is quoted saying “drastic times call for drastic measures”.  I think we can all agree the health of our nation is nowhere where it should be; it is at an all time low and the mantra “everything in moderation” did not keep us from getting there.  In fact, I would argue it probably helped speed the process along as nothing is off limits with this way of thinking.

If “everything in moderation” is your mantra, I know it was mine at one point, hopefully this offers a little different perspective. If you are looking for optimal health or even to just feel better and have more energy, let alone attain specific results, you may want to reconsider “everything in moderation”.  There are just some things we should not be putting in our bodies. Period.

Now, this does not mean that there are not certain foods that I eat in moderation.  There are.  But they are specific and there are only a few of them. For example, as you know, our diet it composed of Whole Plant Foods.  Therefore I do not eat foods with refined ingredients, preservatives, animal products or GMO’s.  However, a few times a year (Birthday, Christmas, Thanksgiving)  Josh and I will indulge in a dessert with some Coconut Oil and or coconut/date sugar (or real non GMO sugar if we are eating out).

While looking for another video I happen across this after completing the article.  Check this video out to learn more about where “everything in moderation” might have stemmed from!  Shocking!

[button style=”btn-success” url=”” size=”” block=”false” target=”_self”] Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Conflicts of Interest [/button]


*(Ryssdal, K. (2013, March 12). processed foods make up 70 percent of the U.S. diet. retrieved May 10, 2014 from

**(Gucciardi, A. (2014, May16). 80 percent of processed foods are banned in other nations. retrieved May 16, 2014 from

image by Federico Stevanin

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