After writing yesterday’s post about the “Paleo Pete” story on A Current Affair, the comment made by the host after the close of the segment, got me thinking. As the program came to an end the host stated “Everything in moderation, is what they say“, basically affirming that “they” (whoever “they” are) must have a more valid and reputable opinion on food as medicine than those in the story – mainly Pete Evans who was slammed for promoting the paleo diet. So that started me thinking on why people spout this bit of nonsense whenever their beliefs on food are challenged.
The premise of “everything in moderation” is not a bad one. Excesses or deficiencies of anything create an imbalance in our system – whether it be in certain types of food, exercise, work, hobbies, indulgences etc. Balance is the key to a lot in life, and moderation makes a lot of sense when you apply it to various aspects of how we live. However the term “everything in moderation” should not apply to food at all – this is very dangerous thinking that leads people into a false sense of security where they figure that eating processed foods “in moderation” is not going to be harmful. Yet if you look at our society who mostly adopts this philosophy, the results are clear – rampant chronic illness, obesity, and a population whose health issues are out of control.
When it comes to moderation in food, it is critical to be aware of the distinction between fake, processed, chemicalised “non-food”, and real food as it is found in its natural state. The two are very separate things. The first shouldn’t be called food at all. Michael Pollan terms it “food-like substances”, and I call it “manufactured merchandise” rather than food. When people talk about “everything in moderation”, it just gives them a handy excuse to justify their choices to eat manufactured merchandise in the place of real food. The saying calls to a part of us that knows that balance is something we often strive for, so if we can demonstrate that balance in our eating habits, then maybe we’ll be able to find balance in other parts of life. Except that eating non-food in moderation is a health hazard.
Who would want to eat moderate amounts of sugar, trans-fats, preservatives, colours, flavours, MSG, aspartame, coal-tar derivatives, GMO soy, wheat and corn, deep fried junk food, hormone and antibiotic laden meat, dairy products that contain pus from infected animals, and eggs from battery hens? Mix all that with a bit of fresh fruit and vegetables and you have moderation, right? Wrong. You have chronic illness, malnutrition, and toxicity.
So next time you here the catch-cry “everything in moderation”, know that it is merely an excuse that demonstrates a lack of awareness about what real food is, and how what you eat can play a tremendous role in the quality of your life and your health. Health is where you find balance – not by eating “everything in moderation.”