In our last blog we looked at the standard advice to eat everything in moderation, and why it might be worth your while to question assumptions you make about what really is moderate.
Consider, for example, that the average sugar intake in England, per person per year, was 5lb (4kg) in the 1800s and is now around 175lbs (85kg). There are many reasons for this, but my question is, which version of moderation do you want to follow? It’s the easiest thing in the world to go along with whatever everyone else around us is doing. But then won’t we end up where everyone else is headed? Is that where you want to be?
Researcher Dr Richard J Johnson has suggested that ideal sugar intake would be one slice of cake once a year. Ouch. I am thinking this is a little bit too moderate!!!
‘Moderate’, of course, is impossible to define. One study discovered “the more you like a food, the bigger your definition of a moderate serving will be.” The authors concluded, “moderation messages allow for a wide range of interpretations” and “are unlikely to be effective.”
No big surprise there!
Moderation is useless as a goal or standard because it’s completely vague, so let’s see what we can discover about another word in our title phrase: ‘everything’. The most consistent nutritional advice we receive is to eat as diverse a range of foods as possible. Is this going to help us more than aiming for moderate?
Published about two years ago, a study that followed almost 7,000 people over ten years found that those with greater diversity in the food they ate had worse outcomes in terms of their waist circumference and no better health. That’s right; the more diversity in the foods they ate, the more weight they gained over the decade.
As so often happens with this kind of research, the findings are a bit on the glaringly obvious side. All of those in the survey were consuming a range of foods such as vegetables, fruits, seeds and nuts. But those with the greater diversity were consuming all of this – and more. In addition, they ate more manufactured and processed foods, ice cream and desserts. It was also found that they consumed a significantly higher percentage of carbohydrates than those with less diversity.