The Problem With ‘Just Eat Everything In Moderation’ Advice

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How many times have you heard the statement, ‘just eat everything in moderation’?
Probably thousands.
In fact, you’ve probably heard it so many times that you’re ready to flip the bird to the next a-hole who suggests this as the solution to your food and exercise obsession.
Truth be told, I’m a huge proponent of moderation. But, wait, before you go giving me the finger, hear me out a minute.
You can’t (and won’t) solve your disordered relationship with food by just deciding one day to ‘just eat everything in moderation‘.
It doesn’t work like that. If you take that approach, you’re gonna find yourself frustrated and running back to your all-or-nothing food rules before you can even say paleo.
WHAT MODERATION IS AND ISN’T
The thing is, ‘eating everything in moderation’ is the END GOAL of full recovery from food and exercise obsession, it is not the step-by-step prescription for how to get there. [Tweet this]

That’d be like telling someone with depression to ‘just be happy’ and problem solved or like telling someone who suffers from alcoholism to ‘just stop drinking, easy peasy’. That’s ridiculous and unfortunately doesn’t at all work like that. If only it were that easy.

Not only that, but as I discuss in my blog post Why You Might Binge At First, moderation when it comes to eating all foods isn’t necessarily even possible for many in the beginning stages of recovery. Chances are high that you’ll overeat and even binge eat for about the first 5 to 9 months of ditching your food rules and allowing yourself to eat all foods without restriction. It’s just a normal and even necessary part of the recovery and healing process for many people.

So how exactly do you reach that seemingly elusive end goal of eating everything in moderation, then?

Well, it’s complicated and there’s not an easy, quick fix answer. (Hence why I highly recommend getting professional help.) It is, however, 110% possible and worth it.

WHERE TO START?

First, you’ll need to start with the ‘eat everything’ part of that equation, which is to allow yourself to eat all foods without restriction. But, instead of focusing on moderation at this point, focus instead on practicing mindfulness, specifically mindful eating.

Mindful eating is the practice of becoming aware of and fully present with the eating experience, both inside and outside the body, from a place of curiosity and non-judgement. (Keyword: non-judgement.)

A mindful eating practice helps you cultivate inner awareness of your body’s hunger and satiety cues, which have been long suppressed and overruled by your ‘clean’ eating food rules and calorie/macro counts. The goal is to reverse this so that your wise and intuitive body eventually supplants the external, depersonalized food rules. (Keyword: eventually.)

FREE MINDFUL EATING TOOL

To help you begin your mindful eating practice, I’ve got a free cheat sheet for you called the 7 S’s of Mindful Eating. This cheat sheet guides you through the step-by-step process of how to practice mindful eating.

mindful eating

FREE CHEAT SHEET: THE 7 S's OF MINDFUL EATING

Download this freebie to get step-by-step guidance on how to practice mindful eating. Because, you've got much better and more important shit to do with your time and life than obsessing over food, calories and macros! 😉

Check your email for your cheat sheet!

Even better, you can listen to me walk you through the 7 S’s of Mindful Eating on the Fit & Vibrant You podcast where I was recently interviewed. [Listen here on stictcher or below.]

One final tip: start small.
While the end goal is to allow yourself to eat all foods you want and like, this won’t happen overnight, either. Take it meal by meal, one fear food by one fear food. In fact, with mindful eating, you may even want to start with a more neutral, less anxiety-provoking food. An unpeeled tangerine is a great option for your first time going through The 7 S’s of Mindful Eating Cheat Sheet.
Keep practicing every day and work up to more challenging ‘fear foods’, such as a cookie.

SETTING EXPECTATIONS

Keep in mind that the expected outcome at this point isn’t that you’ll be able to magically ‘just eat everything in moderation’ at your bestie’s party this weekend.
The outcome to focus on with this practice is to:
  1. allow yourself to eat all foods
  2. eat those foods more mindfully
  3. reestablish the connection between you and your body, particularly your hunger and satiety cues
Like I mentioned, eating everything in moderation is the END GOAL. From a physiological standpoint the ‘moderation’ part may not even be possible at first so focus instead on mindfulness. Mindful eating isn’t the magic bullet answer, but it is a great starting point and a necessary skill to cultivate as one component of your recovery process. The ‘moderation’ part will come later.

To putting the ‘life’ back into your healthy lifestyle!
Alicia

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