Why moderation should be sexy

Did you hear the one that carrots give you cellulite? Or that gluten makes your limbs fall off? Or that grains are the cause of autism? Or that carbs and eating late at night will make you fat? Well, it’s all rubbish!

There are so many myths surrounding food and nutrition. Since when did it all become so complicated? Food is not inherently bad or good. And there’s certainly no food that is morally superior to another. Food should be enjoyed and not feared.

Following strict food rules are not only arduous, it just adds to your anxiety about food and health (orthorexia) and primes you for the development of disordered eating patterns. No carbs after 2 pm, no fruit, no grains, no beans, no cake EVER, no sugar – natural or otherwise, low fat, low carb, high protein, paleo, LCHF, ketogenic, 5:2. Sound familiar? Rules, rules and more rules! Well, it’s time to end the madness and get back to basics.

I often get asked, “What is the best diet?” My answer is moderation. It’s not a sexy sell, but moderation is the key. For some reason, many people want to be told what not to eat, what food to fear and what rules to follow to ensure they can achieve the perfect body or maximum health. But there’s no perfect solution.

Heck, I recently had a patient who lost 10 kilos and improved his diabetes in just three months by eating pizza, lollies and chocolate, and washing it all down with soft drink. True story. His key to success was that he practised moderation. He reduced his portion sizing and the amount he was eating of all those foods; beefed up his vegetable intake; and switched from regular Coke to the diet stuff. He didn’t sweat it out at the gym, he didn’t take a South American herbal weight loss supplement, nor did he survive for days on just 500 calories. He just made some small changes and voila. The proof was in the pudding, so to speak.

My advice along with other dietitians is simple: eat when you’re hungry; really listen to your body and nourish it when it needs sustenance. Enjoy your favourite foods, even if you think they fall into the ‘naughty’ category; just make them an ‘every-now-and-then’ thing. Enjoy a tipple, but don’t overdo it. Move more, and always include as many vegetables with your meals as you can.

Truth is, there is no such thing as the perfect diet. There are no foods to avoid like the plague. And there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach. A healthy diet incorporates all foods from all the food groups – the evidence overwhelmingly supports it.

Nevertheless, if you’re not a fan of moderation, there are a number of pseudo-scientists who would be happy to tell you any number of rigid food rules to follow and what not to eat. But you’d be better off taking their shoddy advice with a grain of salt.

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