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Posts Tagged ‘moderation’

America is in trouble because its [sic] perpetuated this idea of “enjoying food” and food that make(s) you “feel good”. People need to understand that food is fuel. Its not there to entertain you.
-a commenter on Go Kaleo’s Facebook Page

To which I say, well then what is the friggin’ point, man?  If you take that approach to life, you are really going to to lead a dull, boring life, aren’t you?

Is food fuel?  Yes, of course it is.  Should we eating whatever we want, whenever we want?  Absolutely not.  But why the heck would you NOT want to enjoy your food when you do have it?  For Lord’s sake, taste is one of our five major senses, and arguably the most intimate.  I wonder if the people who preach the “Food is only fuel” mantra feel the same way about sex?  It’s only for procreation!  or music? sound is only for communication! or the smell of a rose? smell is only for warning us of danger!

As a person of Japanese decent, I have been exposed to food in a very different way – a meal is not just fuel;  a meal is something that pleases as many senses as possible – from the subtle flavors (emphasis on subtle), to the simple visual presentation, to the smells and sounds (say from a sizzling dish) and of course texture of the dish.  A meal is to be enjoyed by all five senses, not just downed in an attempt to fuel the body.

But most importantly, a meal is something you take time to enjoy.  Eat it slowly, take your time, let your senses revel in the process of consuming.

Whether you are a believer in God or a higher power or, like me, the Universe, we were given a gift when we emerged from the primordial ooze – the ability to sense and enjoy what we sensed.  Beauty comes in all kinds of forms – there is beauty in touch, in sight, in sound, in scent and in taste.  Why would we obsessively deny ourselves the ability to experience the beauty that is all around us.

Food, or more importantly a meal, invites us to do just that.

Does our American society have a problem with food?  There’s no arguing that.  Everything is super-sized, extemely salted, heavily sugared and overly processed; the foods that much of the Nation consumes are addictive, calorically dense and nutritionally empty.  But Americans aren’t addicted to the enjoyment of food…they are addicted to the food choices they have made – there is a difference.

Does that mean we need to stop enjoying our food?  I don’t think so.  Maybe we need to take a clue from my ancestors and take a moment to slow down, observe, inhale, listen, touch and taste.

m&t_zilia_0003_4and remember the Okinawan phrase: Hara hachi bu.

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cant_say_that

There are some words that, in my humble opinion, should rarely, if ever, be used – the list is relatively short.  You can probably come up with them all on your own – the “n” word, the “r” word, the “c” word…I’m sure there are a few others, but suffice it to say, that these words are frowned upon because as a society we have realized that they are hurtful in more ways than just hurt feelings.

It seems that there are some in the health industry who would like to take a few more words away from your vocabulary – the most prevalent one being “moderation”.  Why do they want to take this word away from you?  Simply put, because it’s a crutch; an excuse for poor choices; it means different things to different people; and my personal favorite people are too dumb to know what moderation really means.

Andy Bellatti, a register dietician, recently wrote on the Huffington Post that “Everything in moderation,” is another way of unnecessarily and inaccurately equalizing all foods. It operates on the inane and utterly insane notion that peaches, Pop-Tarts, muffins, soda, lentils and tomatoes should all be approached the same way.

Um…really?

He goes on to imply that you, the public, are not intelligent enough to understand that three cups of mixed greens as part of a salad are not the same thing as three cups of chocolate pudding.

And that you are too clueless to realize a large Dunkin’ Donuts Mountain Dew Coolatta should not be consumed with the same frequency as unsweetened green tea.

And that you have no idea that eating a pint of blueberries in one sitting is very different from eating a pint of Häagen-Dazs.

Hmmm…is that you?

Personally, I think most people actually do understand that.

Do you really think that three cups of mixed greens is the same as three cups of chocolate pudding?  If I were to say to you that you’re okay to eat chocolate pudding occasionally, as long as it’s in moderation, would you interpret that as “I can eat 3 cups of chocolate pudding every single day!”?

Do you, as many of these health experts believe you do, believe that drinking a 32 oz soda slushy is the same as drinking unsweetened green tea?

In your mind is eating a pint of blueberries the same as eating a pint of Häagen-Dazs?

Yeah, I didn’t think so.

Now, Bellatti does have a point.  Ask 20 people what moderation means and you will probably get 20 different answers, but you can bet next week’s paycheck that the majority (and to be specific I’ll say 80%) of the answers will be lumped together like a giant bell curve, varying only minutely.

Perhaps Bellatti and those of his ilk are former food addicts in a past life and feel they must go to extreme measures to keep their past behaviors under control.  You know what?  That’s not fair, I don’t know him at all, but perhaps Bellatti and his followers simply need to do a better job of reminding themselves what “moderation” actually means and relearn that a moderate amount of food A is not is not going to be the same as a moderate amount of food B…

Here’s a little help:

mod·er·a·tion
ˌmädəˈrāSHən/
noun
noun: moderation
1.  the avoidance of excess or extremes, esp. in one’s behavior or political opinions.

synonyms: self-restraint, restraint, self-control, self-command, self-discipline, temperance

Notice the synonyms?

I’m not a dietician.  I don’t even play one on TV, in part, well, because I’m not on TV, but I’m pretty sure that someone who has worked hard for their RD status can work with individual clients and help those who want to know what a moderate amount of chocolate pudding would be…it’s certainly going to be a significantly less amount, in both volume and frequency, than a moderate amount of salad greens.

…but of course, most of us already knew that.

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Oreo-Cookies-And-Milk-e1368646124688

I have a friend, MK.  He doesn’t know it, but I often call him my reality check.  I call him this because very often, when I write something without fully thinking it through (which is most of the time), he is there to intelligently present either an opposing view or even better put, a wider, more global view.  I’ve thought of him over the past several weeks as I’ve watched several friends write posts on Facebook that have essentially said, “if you eat processed food, you will die!”  While I fully encourage the concept of healthful eating, and I also believe that eating solely processed, packaged foods is not good for your long term health, I have trouble with statements like these.  They fit right in with the “worried about the cost of organic eating?  how about the cost of getting cancer? Now THAT’s expensive!”  I can’t tell you how many friends have posted that one.  The issue I take with statements like these is two-fold:

1.  Making an absolute statement like, “eating that Oreo will give you cancer, make you obese, turn you into an addict and give you diabetes” is very much like handing out “You’re Fat” notes on Halloween to kids you perceive as fat.  It’s not bullying per se, but it is still meant to make the Oreo eater feel guilt and embarrassment.  It’s not nearly as brutal nor as clumsy, but it still paints with broad brush strokes that reveal only a surface understanding of the more detailed biological mechanisms.  It is just as incomplete and can be damaging to those who blindly follow.  Let’s be clear, eating an Oreo is not going to give you cancer or diabetes or make you obese.  In fact, eating a whole package of Oreo Cookies will do none of those things either.  What “eating Oreos will make you obese, give you diabetes, turn you into an addict and kill you with cancer” lacks is the second half of a statement, something along the lines of “if that is all you eat” or “if you eat a whole package every day for months and years on end.”  There is nothing wrong with occasionally enjoying four or five Oreo cookies smashed at the bottom of a glass of whole milk…just don’t make a regular habit of it.  The phrase sugar addiction will often come into play in these discussions – the argument being that sugar is more addictive than cocaine or morphine.  Sugar addiction IS real, but again, the second half of the complete thought is almost always left off…for someThere have been studies that show sugar addiction is real in rats, and to be honest, even though there may not be specific scientific studies that show the same in humans, the unscientific (albeit occasionally misleading) eyeball test tells us a different story.  That being said, not everyone is predisposed to sugar addiction or even the side effects of sugar intake – that is something that many “experts” will either forget to mention or don’t know or even worse, willfully omit.

2.  Organic and fresh food is more expensive.  It just is, there is no way around that.  But to try to appeal to people through the “well imagine how much cancer is gonna cost you when you get it eating all that cheap, packaged inorganic crap” doesn’t take into consideration the fact that A. not all people actually have access to organic food (heck, some people in this country don’t even have easy access to fresh veggies and fruits – see Detroit) and B. some people simply can’t afford to buy all organic all the time.  For some people it becomes a choice of eating and going to bed with a full belly or eating a lot less and going to bed hungry.  I can’t claim to know what the numbers are but I’m pretty sure that constant hunger doesn’t do the brain or the prospects of longevity any favors.  What’s the cost of an underdeveloped intellect due to near starving conditions?  What’s the cost of growing up with a weak body because you couldn’t get enough calories into it due to an insistence on buying only organic?

Now don’t get me wrong.  If you CAN eat fresh veggies and fruits, and you CAN afford to buy organic, you probably should – the less chemicals and fewer packaged foods we put into our bodies the better.  But you have to balance that with a little common sense.  Our bodies are incredible biological machines.  Our cells turnover every 7 to 10 years.  Our bodies do a fantastic, albeit not perfect, job of cleaning out the waste.  Some Oreo Cookies and Milk here or some McDonald’s there or a few Snickers bars at Halloween or feeding your kids some prepared chicken nuggets now and again are not going to kill you or them, make either of you fat or cause cancer.  Occasional treats, if truly treated as treats you have occasionally, can actually be good for you mentally, and we all know that our mental health is just as, if not more, important as our physical health.

You do what you can with the budget and resources you have available.

Ultimately I believe it comes down to moderation.  If you eat a healthful diet in general, don’t let the internet health “gurus” and “experts” out there make you feel bad about hitting Burger King on a road trip or jamming a few candy bars after a big race.  Again, just don’t make it a regular habit.   I’ll admit right now, I swiped a mini Kit Kat, a mini Baby Ruth and a mini Almond Joy from my daughter’s Halloween bag to have as a snack while I wrote this blog post.  They were tasty but honestly, they will probably be the last candy of any kind I eat before Thanksgiving.  It’s not because I have some incredible will power.   I’m not fighting some urge to have chocolate.  I simply don’t crave it, and having it every now and again never changes that.

As my father has always told me, “everything in moderation” remembering of course that moderation will not work for some.

The bottom line for me is that those who write, tweet, or blog about health and fitness issues need to be careful with the size of the brushes with which they paint.  If there is one thing having an autistic daughter has taught me it is that we are all on a spectrum, and what may work for some may have the exact opposite effect on others.  Blanket statements rarely hold up under scrutiny because we are not carbon copies of each other.

We are all different.

***The one caveat I will put here is this – if you know that you have an addictive personality, or have problems with self-control, then it is probably good to avoid the cookies or the fast food altogether or at the very least keep them out of your home so you are not regularly tempted by them.  You have to know yourself – working with your strengths, protecting yourself from your weaknesses. 

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[tweetmeme source=”luau” only_single=false http://www.URL.com]

Everything in moderation. My father says that all the time.

In Buddhism, it is called the Middle Way, a mid-point between extremes, that by it’s very nature keeps one safe from the dangers of those extremes.

Some would say (the wife included) that over the past two years, I have taken my running to an extreme. Well, maybe as far as the general population is concerned, but within the running community, I don’t see myself as too far off the reservation. The only thing that I had been pretty extreme on is my choice of footwear.  In June of 2009 I made the switch to the Vibram Five Fingers and I didn’t look back. I embraced it whole-heartedly and became somewhat of a Five Finger preacher, evangelizing the wonders of barefoot-style running.

3 Marathons, 3 Half-Marathons and several other races later, I still thought that they were awesome.

The problem with going to extremes however, is that you very often blind yourself to the benefits of the other extreme or to the possible issues within your own extreme.

Look at both the political climate in our country and the religious climate in the Western Hemisphere. People are entrenched in their own positions, refusing to even acknowledge that there might be something positive coming from the other side. Christians and Muslims continue to go at each other despite sharing some common beliefs, and Democrats and Republican continue to put their own interests ahead of the interests of the people who elected them.

And so it was with my conversion to the Five Finger religion. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am still a huge, HUGE fan of the Vibram Five Fingers. If you haven’t tried the new Bikilas or the Treks yet, I highly recommend them. They are both wonderful for running, and I still use them on a regular basis.  BUT, I have come to a place now where I am willing to look a little more carefully at the finer details of my running.   A little over a year and a half into the Vibrams, I’m still a moderate heel-striker.  My form has improved, but I have not been able to completely transform myself into the mid-foot striker I would like to be.  Don’t get me wrong.  I am not complaining.  In fact, I am very pleased with how my year of running has gone (more on that on Thursday), however, because my my form tends to break down in the latter half of my longer runs, I need to take the long view and protect my legs.

Over the past several months, I have come to appreciate the Larson School of Thought as it pertains to shoes.  Larson (actually my buddy and fellow BQ Pete) believes in rotating one’s shoes.  I think he does it in part because he loves running shoes, but the main reason is because each shoe is slightly different and therefore puts stress on slightly different parts of the body.  When you rotate through 2 – 5 pairs of shoes, you reduce the risk of overuse injuries because the stress points that your body has to deal with are being moved ever so slightly.

I have found that since I introduced the Saucony Kinvaras into my rotation, my aches and pains have reduced dramatically.  That’s not to say I don’t have aches and  – running can be hard on the body – but I find that I am running harder and stronger yet recovering more quickly.   I am convinced that much of that has to do with keeping my legs and feet guessing as to what they are going to be running in on any given day.

Extremes can be good.  They open our eyes to new possibilities, but in the end, the path to longevity lies down the Middle Way.

Are you a multi-shoe runner? or do you stick to your favorite pair?

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