We have all heard it before. We have all used it before. Yet, when it comes to everything in moderation, it is one of the most misleading statements that can sabotage our health and well-being. In this essay we explore where this statement came from and why it is not working for us, or our health.
Perhaps since the beginning of the human race as we know it, there have been ideas, beliefs and statements passed around which got readily adopted by the masses, yet which were erroneous at best. To this day we have a prevalence of myths, half-truths and even many wise sounding words, that simply don’t hold up when they are examined on the basis of science or logic. One of those is the idea of everything in moderation.
You probably grew up with your parents saying it, hearing it in the media, hearing it even from medical professionals, and perhaps as a result you use the saying regularly yourself today. Don’t feel bad, we’ve all probably been there. The statement has softened many a discussion when it came to excusing sweets, alcohol, fast food, processed food, and even animal products as information surfaced about their negative health effects. There would be no harm in using it of course, as anyone can say what they please, if it wasn’t for the fact that it creates some serious problems for how we understand our health and wellness. Unfortunately, the statement is both outdated, misleading and downright incorrect when it comes to the physiology of our body and nutrition effects. If you grew up on this idea, and continue to use it to this day, simply put you are putting your current and future health at risk.
Who said it first?
The roots of this statement go back to your parents who heard it from their parents, who heard it from their parents, and you get the picture. We are going back several good generations at least, to a time when people still knew very little about how the human body works and how different foods affect it. It also began its use during a time when food was natural, not processed with numerous synthetic and chemical enhancers, as well as degrading processing methods.
Since we are such a social species as the human race, it is all too common to repeat and carry forward the beliefs and ideas of others, even when they don’t make sense. In fact, we only need to hear things passively for them to be embedded within us and become part of our truth. Marketing and advertising agencies know this all full well and this is one reason why we buy so many of the useless, unhealthy and harmful products that we do. We are, if we can say, under the hypnosis of the idea. That is until we snap into conscious awareness, and operate from our conscious, rather than subconscious and habitual mind patterns. If this topic alone interests you, Richard Brodie explains this topic in great detail in his book Virus of the Mind.
So regardless of who said it first, part of us evolving and growing up as the human race, and as a human being, is thinking critically for ourselves. When we choose to question, to peel back layers, to shake our foundations, it is then that we begin to see with more clarity. We expand our perspective, open our mind, deepen our understanding and provide a context for what we hear, say and use in our daily life.
Get Honest with Yourself
From a biochemical perspective, there are many things that your body does not want in ANY amounts.
I think one of the problems we have when we use this statement indiscriminately is that we confuse the idea of moderation with whether or not our body can process the item in question. Many of us hold the belief that if our body can process a substance or deal with it, or in more blatant terms, if I don’t fall over sick or dead from it, then it must not be that bad. Sure we may get bloated, or constipated, or experience a drop in energy from it, or get a headache, or not be able to sleep well that night, but we rarely correlate these messages from our body with the substances we ingest. Even when we do, we brush it off thinking it is just part of the package. No big deal, right?
How you approach this further however will depend on your personal understanding of health, wellness and life in general. If you are the individual who thinks that “we all die sooner or later”, or that “we all have to die of something”, then what I share won’t phase you, much less have any profound impact on you. If however you have some sense of understanding that you create your health and wellness through the habits and choices you decide to partake in, then we can begin to dissect this topic further.
There are many substances that we ingest today that have a negative effect on our health in many direct and indirect ways, instantly. When I speak to groups about nutrition, I often share that if our bodies became transparent, we would be making different choices immediately. There are numerous substances that we consider food today, which cause some form of harm, damage or stress to our body upon ingestion. Perhaps your blood will get a bit thicker for a few hours, perhaps your immune system will be suppressed for a few days, perhaps your liver and kidneys will have to work that much harder. Whatever the case is, while one time won’t make it or break it, days, weeks, months and years of this account to overwhelming damage! And so we see the disease, aging and degenerative effects that we do.
But things can be so different when we choose to support our body, rather than harm and stress it. Sure, even the best, purest and healthiest food can still cause our body some extra work during its breakdown and assimilation. In fact, digestion itself is a taxing process on the body, and longevity studies have shown calorie reduced diets to be both healing and preventative. But, the point here is not to adopt a fatalist attitude and stop eating. The point is to make the smartest choices we can; choices that are most in alignment with our body’s anatomy, physiology and biochemistry; choices that can heal us, prevent degenerative diseases and support our health, wellness, vitality and longevity.
Let’s examine some more data when it comes to why we really cannot believe, use or depend on the idea of everything in moderation if we are serious about our health.
1. Stop Re-Living the Past
I most commonly hear from middle aged or older people who swear by this statement that they grew up on this idea and they are “just fine”. However, what each of us considers “fine” is a whole other story. Many people think that being on several medications is fine. Others feel that losing their eyesight, hearing and cognitive function is fine. Others yet believe that having some health problems is just a natural part of life and aging. We have unfortunately forgotten in our society what optimal health looks like, and what it means to thrive right into old age, not just survive each day.
Technology has advanced rapidly in the past few decades. Our understanding of nutrition, and health has also progressed leaps and bounds. Today for example we know about a whole new category of nutrients called phytochemicals, which are unique to plant foods only and offer all sorts of outstanding healing and protection effects. What we know now, compared to what we knew 100 years ago is mind blowing. If you need another example, 100 years ago people accepted smoking as a normal activity and did not connect its use to the horrendous health effects that it is capable of. Today, thanks to science and technology we know differently. So ask yourself and be honest, is smoking in moderation a good thing?
If we are going to evolve and move forward in a more beneficial way we have to understand that clinging on to how it was in the past just does not work anymore. At least not if you want to benefit from a higher quality of life. As long as we hold dear to old ideas that no longer serve us, we are like the mouse on a wheel going around in circles, but not really getting anywhere new. From a such a state of being we miss out on new ideas and revolutionary breakthroughs, which can enable us in positive ways. If we don’t move forward with new wisdom, we are stuck in one place, or worse moving backwards due to various modes of resistance and defensiveness.
Yes, there is some ancient wisdom that will never go out of style. However, everything in moderation is not one of those examples. So let’s get honest, let’s get proactive and have the courage to look at our health in a brand new light. Let’s not settle for what we knew. Instead, let’s push the boundaries of infinite possibility and know that we can thrive in ways that we haven’t yet imagined. It simply comes down to honoring and respecting our bodies, and supporting them in the most optimal ways through the foods and drinks we consume, and the lifestyle choices we make.
2. Stop Following the Masses
I have to share something with you: you are not a lemming, or any other herd-mentality-based animal. Yes, our social need to fit in is great and it overrides many people’s logic. The effects are often deleterious, as they are for many herd animals who don’t think for themselves. Part of what I aspire to do however is inspire people to rise to their highest potential. Think for yourself!!! Be true to yourself. Honor and respect yourself. It shouldn’t matter what everyone else is doing, if it doesn’t make sense to you, you don’t do it. But in order to figure out what makes sense to us, we first have to get really honest with ourselves and examine our personal priorities.
While many of the older people think that they are just fine having eaten in moderation all these years, many of the younger people will often exclaim that everyone else seems to be eating or drinking the item in question and seem to be fine, so they can too. But here again we have to look around and understand that everyone else is far from fine. We have more healthcare problems and challenges today than perhaps anyone could have ever expected. Obesity and weight imbalances; mental and emotional imbalances; acute, chronic and degenerative diseases are at all time highs. So we cannot fool ourselves and say that we are in any way fine adopting the everything in moderation habits. Getting regular headaches, backaches, constipation, irritability, or insomnia, just to name a few of the less serious things, is not fine. Having a major percentage of the population depressed for no apparent reason is not fine. Having a 1 in 3 chance of getting cancer or heart disease is not fine.
In our society today we have simply adjusted to these types of states and believe that they are part of daily life. We have chosen to settle, rather than excel when it comes to our health and well-being. If your body gets the proper support it needs, it will work for you many, many times better, if not perfectly the way it was designed to.
And granted you may say, “But what about the polluted water we drink or air we breathe, how can we stop that?” It seems like some form of stress or pollution is all around us today, and it is. No one is denying that. This is in fact one more reason to support our body with the best quality food and drink we can have access to. Your body is getting numerous toxins each day aside from what you put into it, so use that to inspire and motivate you not to put into it any more harmful substances. A properly supported body is capable of maintaining its own natural healing ability and homeostatic balance. Tap into that by making optimal nutrition choices, rather than settling for fake, fast and over-processed food, which causes your body more harm than any good that it may provide.
3. There is no universal standard or definition for moderation.
We could at least, perhaps give this idea a chance IF there was some medically or scientifically accepted range or level or what moderation means. But everyone has a different definition of moderation. What may qualify as so called “moderation” for one person, is usually completely invalid for another. Does eating chocolate bars in moderation mean eating them once a day, once a week, or once a month? And what size of chocolate bar are we talking about? What if I am eating chocolate bars in moderation, and french fries in moderation and alcohol in moderation? Very soon my whole diet is based on harmful junk substances, but in my head I am thinking that I eat each of these in moderation.
In truth, there is no universal definition of moderation; there never was and there never will be. We would have to come up with one for every type of food item out there, for the various ages, sexes, and health needs. It isn’t going to happen. Therefore, we cannot continue to fool ourselves using this statement and think that we are acting in some healthy way. In the end, we are not realizing how much we are sabotaging our own health using this ideology.
4. It does not make biological sense
As I mentioned earlier, there is a huge difference in whether your body can deal with something versus whether it wants to, or should. Likewise, if you saw what is happening within your body, organs, tissues and cells when you ingest some of the things that are considered normal or food in our society on impact, you would be hard pressed not to choose otherwise.
However since we do not have the ability to see within our bodies, and most of us do not even have a basic understanding of our food or body, we are very slow, if not downright opposed to making any changes. We live within the out of sight, out of mind paradigm, which all too often comes back to bite us at some future moment. Unfortunately whether we make the connection then between our dietary choices leading up to that point or not is often irrelevant as the damage has been done. Yes, our body can heal and reverse a lot of damage if we choose to turn things around. That is the super positive and uplifting part in all of this. But whether we choose to do that or not, we still suffer in the process and decrease our quality of life often tremendously. Not to mention the additional stress many of us endure trying to figure out how we may pay for the right medical care or healthcare needs.
When most of us eat, we just focus on the physical gratification in the moment of. We do not consider how this food item may be impacting us tomorrow, a month from now, or ten years from now. Cancer for example takes years to develop. So going back again to the idea that we are fine is a dangerous and ignorant card to play. Nobody wants to be sick, or suffer the various states of mental, emotional or physical distress. Yet, we can avoid so much of it daily simply by making some simple changes in how we think about our food and health, as well as the habits we choose to adopt. As far as the body is concerned it has many predetermined tasks that it has to carry out regularly in order to keep you functioning and alive. This is the good news that often saves us from many undesirable consequences. But anytime you put in anything that disrupts your body’s natural balance you are doing 2 main things:
The first thing is that your body has to detoxify the substance, hence you have just created extra and unnecessary work for your body. If you want to imagine this process, just think of the last time your boss, your spouse or your parents asked you to do any extra and maybe unnecessary work on top of your regular tasks.
The second thing that happens is the task that your body was supposed to do, to maintain your well-being may be hindered or stopped completely. Do you ever wonder why you have no appetite when you have the flu or so? Your body cannot do a proper job of fighting the invader and perform its regular tasks at the same time.
What clouds our judgment continually is the amazing resilience of our body. It usually does not show the ill effects (unless you really overdoing something) until some time passes. This in turn breaks for us the correlation between the action and the reaction; the cause and effect; what you put in versus what your body put out. Most of the illnesses that we get therefore are compounded effects from many substances over years of use, and abuse.
To sum it up, there are some substances (foods and drinks) that help and some that hurt. And if you want the most optimal health you can possibly have, then your job has to be to COMPLETELY AVOID the substances that hurt. There is just no point in putting them in and deliberately hurting yourself.
Let’s Examine the Main Culprits
Before I share with you some of the substances that hurt and should not be consumed by anyone serious about their health, or more specifically who is interested in optimal health, let’s address a few points. How realistic or shocking you find each one, and how much you may agree or disagree with each one will depend on your current habits and way of thinking. People who have adopted optimally healthy eating habits and lifestyle choices will not be phased by what I share. People who are immersed in consuming or using any of the substances below will go through various thoughts and emotions. These can range from denial and defensiveness, to despair and despondency.
If you are just learning about your health, it is important to remember that everything is a journey. Feeling bad will only increase your stress and anxiety response, while it decreases your ability to think critically and act effectively. Give yourself time. Be easy with yourself. Just keep moving forward and know that whatever habits you had in the past, are passed. Today is a new day, a new moment, to make a new choice. Most, if not all of us have been there at one time or another. Very few of us grew up on perfect food and with optimal eating habits, so it is not about blame, but rather about forgiveness. Forgive your body for whatever was done, and empower yourself by knowing that your body is ready and willing to work with you and create for you the best health possible anytime you are. With the right support, love and care you can detox, cleanse, heal, repair and rejuvenate yourself. It does not matter if you are 20, or 40, or 60, or 80! It is never too late. Everyday that you choose to make better choices, ones that support your body in a positive manner, you choose to improve the quality of your life.
So what you choose to do from here on, is up to you, your priorities and the journey you are ready to take. If you continue to ingest these substances, it does not mean that you are a “bad” or “ignorant” person. You are simply making a choice, and no one has the right to tell you what the right or wrong choice is for you. You just have to be aware of the consequences of your choices, and whether those consequences are in alignment with your desires. My job is simply to inform and shed light on these topics to help people expand their consciousness and make the right choices for them. This is why I am passionate about exposing the truth, no matter how hard it may be to hear, so that you do not hide behind the everything in moderation paradigm unknowingly. It is always your choice what, and how much of something you intake, but you also have to then accept the consequences that come with it.
Here are the top 10 things to avoid as completely as possible, always:
Cigarettes: No surprise here, and for the most part I assume no further explanation is needed.
Alcohol: This may be your first shocker. Society will have you believe that it is socially okay to drink and encourages it from every angle. In fact, it is often even encouraged from medical professionals. But the truth is that every time you choose to ingest alcohol, you give your body increased stress and increased work. Sure there are some benefits, no one is denying that. But in 9 out of 10 cases, the benefits do not outweigh the risks. Media and studies will often tout that some red wine, or other alcohol may be preventative for cardiovascular disease, but this all depends on your diet. If your diet is optimally healthy, then alcohol is adding much more harm than good. So when you hear any studies about alcohol, you have to do your research properly on what is actually being said, in what context and why, as well as who is funding the study. Ultimately there are a lot of details associated with fully understanding why alcohol is not part of an optimal health plan, that include a lot of politics. You can read more from me about how alcohol is metabolized here. However, my biggest problem with alcohol is not even so much its effects as a physical toxin, but as a psychological toxin. We need more awareness, clarity of mind and consciousness today, not less.
Coffee: This one shouldn’t be too much of a shocker. Like with alcohol, various studies and claims will come out from time to time to share about the benefits of coffee. Again, there is no denying that the coffee bean has some powerful medicinal and health benefits. But that is just it, it is very powerful and today we abuse this substance. Instead of being helpful, it is harming our health. While you may think that one or two cups here and there may be no big deal, with today’s rates of acidity, stress and anxiety our liver, kidneys and adrenal glands do not need any more stress or over-stimulation.
Artificial Sweeteners: Even though some are still debating some of the different artificial sweeteners out there, if you use your common sense it is not hard to see that chemically enhanced, synthetically derived substances are normally far from favorable to our health. There are also too many people who have experienced direct adverse effects and too much information about the toxicity of these substances to give them the benefit of the doubt. To further understand the problems associated with these substances, read my guide to artificial sweeteners and sugar substitutes.
Food dyes: A few numbers have already been taken off the market by the FDA as carcinogenic. More have been linked with being carcinogenic, as well as toxic for our bodies in numerous ways, including causing allergies and behavioral issues.
Fast Food: This includes the typical items on, the typical fast food restaurant menus. While many places like McDonald’s and others have added so called “healthy” items to their menu, let’s not be naïve. The quality of food alone from these places, including the salt, sugar, preservative and other questionable ingredient amounts alone should be enough to make us avoid these options. To understand more about the various problems with fast food, I invite you to read Fast Food = Fast Liver Damage.
Soft Drinks/Pop: Aside from the sugar, aside from the artificial colors and flavors, aside from the chemical additives, pop is not fit to enter our body. Yes, that sounds extreme, but we don’t seem to get it yet in how harmful this substance is to our overall health from teeth and bones, to mental and emotional health, and everything in between. And if you get the calorie- reduced or free options, then you are taking in an even bigger slew of toxic chemicals. So stop making the big corporations money, save your money and your health by removing these substances from your diet completely. To understand the seriousness of this substance further and why it should never enter your body, I invite you to read my essay: Do You Know What Is In Your Soft Drink?
Meat: Meat has become a very controversial topic today where health is concerned. We have growing and rapidly increasing numbers in the vegan/vegetarian lifestyles, as we do in the paleo/primal lifestyles. While the former has removed meat completely from their diet, the latter depends on meat to a great degree. The only good news there is that anyone who is doing the paleo/primal diet properly is not eating any factory farmed or processed meat. Rather they are choosing the most natural, wild or high quality options. So that leaves everyone in the middle. If you choose to eat any typical meat and fish products today, you have to be aware that you are subjecting yourself to all sorts of problems and negative effects. Today’s meat is tainted with hormones, drugs, GMOs, not to mention fed completely unnatural for it feed and subjected to the most revolting conditions. You can read here more about why you may wish to reconsider eating meat. When it comes to seafood, it has its own slew of problems given the chemical and radioactive pollution of our oceans today, farmed fish problems, and GMO fish that have been introduced into the food supply.
GMO Food: Although this is still a new one for many people, and although it is not easy to know which foods are GMO due to a lack of labeling, it is nonetheless a category that should be avoided completely from our diet. Genetically modified organisms have infiltrated today our fruits, vegetables, oils, grains, dairy and meat products, and most processed foods. It is unfortunate that our world has chosen corporate greed over human health and planetary sustainability, but that is a whole other story. The point is that GMOs have been linked with numerous health problems from allergies, to organ damage, to immune suppression, to toxicity, to infertility. These are not foods that we should be playing with while we determine if they are safe or not. Messing around with nature and manipulating its genetic code to create genetically foreign foods is a recipe for disaster. To learn more about the full spectrum of dangers of GMOs, visit the: Institute for Responsible Technology site.
Refined Sugar: White sugar, brown sugar or any of it many derivatives have been shown to be harmful to ALL parts of our health. Anyway you look at it refined sugar is not your body’s best friend. Neither are the many sweets that it is a part of, which are often based on the worst ingredients, like refined grains, fats and artificial ingredients. There are too many natural, delicious and wholesome sweet foods that we can consume and enjoy, to give any amount of refined sugar the time of day. To understand the problems with sugar in more detail, read Health Effects of Sugar on Your Body - the Bitter Truth.
If you are optimally health oriented, you can no doubt think of several other foods, drinks or substances that could be added to the above list. My intention for this article was just to identify the main culprits within most people’s diets, and lifestyle habits. Each of the above mentioned can also use numerous articles of their own to lay out all of the different problems associated with them and their effects on our physical, mental and emotional health, not to mention effects on our planet and sustainability.
In the end the choice, as always, is yours. You have to choose what you will deem as fit to enter your body, nourish you and create your state of health, or lack there of. The most important thing is simply to keep moving forward. If you have a sincere interest in your personal health, or that of someone under your care, or the health of our planet, then keep reading and researching. Keep taking positive steps forward, no matter how small they are. Don’t get angry, defensive, hopeless or depressed about the state of things, your choices or what you read. Take what resonates with you at this particular moment, and release the rest. Perhaps you will come back to it at another time, perhaps you won’t. But know that if you choose to use ideas like everything in moderation, you have to know the fuller story of what those words really mean and not deceive yourself, or sabotage your health due to unconscious ignorance. You can choose to ingest anything you like, but the truth remains that not everything we have out there today was meant to be consumed by the body in any amount, without ill effects or negative repercussions.
Enjoy further reading to expand your ideas on this topic with the following essay: Exploring the 3 Modern Dietary Approaches to Eating: Moderation, Plant-Based and Paleo