Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Why The "Everything In Moderation" Rule Doesn't Work

 I discovered this article after a friend pinned it over at Pinterest - and I was instantly drawn to the paragraph I've bolded. It makes SO much sense why it is so hard to get yourself back on track after you've "fallen off the Clean Eating wagon."

I've reprinted the article verbatim; it's by a NYC nutritionist named Dana James.

Why The "Everything In Moderation" Rule Doesn't Work

by Dana James, MS, CNS, CDN.

Two squares of dark chocolate…every night. A glass of wine…every night. A coconut macaroon…every night. All perfectly acceptable, under the weight loss mantra “everything in moderation.”

But will this behavior actually give you a hot rockin’ body?


Genetically, we are not moderate beings. We are feast and famine. We thrive on the polarity of extremes. We are pleasure seekers and moderation doesn’t induce much pleasure.

Moderation is eating less than you want, in the hope that it will assuage a more primal gluttonous urge. For most people, it doesn’t. Nor does it take away those social engagements that require us to be more fluid with our food choices. The end result? Small treats on a daily basis AND indulgent social eating.

Daily treat-eating also changes your brain chemistry. After just seven days, the dopamine receptor cells start to down-regulate. This means that more dopamine is required to elicit the same mild and pleasurable response. When two squares of dark chocolate were enough to soothe you, it goes up to four pieces, six pieces, then half a bar.

Even more insidious is that the daily treat-eating becomes a conditioned response. After dinner, you’ll feel compelled to have a treat, much like one of Pavlovian’s dogs.

You, however, are not a dog. You can consciously turn this response off. You do this, by stopping the everyday treat eating and trashing the “everything in moderation” rule.

Instead, plan two meals per week where you savor and enjoy your chosen pleasure-inducing food.  When you’re tempted outside of these two meals, remind yourself how truly enjoyable these meals are.

And make them enjoyable. Pull out the silverware, use pretty plates, add a napkin, engage with friends or an amour du jour, make it blissful and quote Oscar Wilde, “everything in moderation, including moderation."