11 April 2013

On moderation

It might sound a little cliche, but one of my life mottos is "everything in moderation, including moderation".

The opposite of moderation. Source

People tend to go to the extreme when it comes to diet and exercise, as if small changes are insignificant. They aren't! And removing certain foods or food groups isn't necessarily healthy or good for you. Yes, we (Americans) eat too much salt. No, we shouldn't remove salt from everything we cook. I made bread one time and forgot to put the little bit of salt in it (1/2 teaspoon I think) and the bread tasted totally bland. Salt is a flavor enhancer and, used appropriately and in moderation, is not bad for you. Unfortunately, when you are not the one preparing your own food, it is very difficult to moderate things like salt and sugar.

Speaking of sugar...I love reading food blogs when I can, but some of the comments just drive me crazy!

     Got a few minutes? The parody comments on this recipe are hilarious!

Health issues aside, some commenters ask questions about substitutions (especially in place of white sugar) as if the recipe creator had not thought twice about what ingredients they were putting into that recipe. If the food blogger is anything like the ones I read, please respect their opinion and expertise that the amount is the best for that recipe (after various trials and experimenting). Second, white sugar, like salt, is not something that has to be avoided completely. Sure, most people eat way too much of it so there is good reason to scale back, but my opinion is, if you're going to eat dessert, eat dessert. If you are going to treat yourself to something sweet or "unhealthy", then do it in moderation and savor it. I generally don't buy low-fat or sugar-free or reduced-whatever food because the full version is going to taste better so I am likely to eat less of it, and it is also likely to have more of it's health benefits fully intact. The general rule is, the more processed something is, the less nutrition it maintains.

When things are made low-fat or reduced-sugar, a lot of times fillers are added in their place that are significantly worse for you that the original fat or sugar. I encourage you to do some research into the sugar and fat alternatives that food producers use these days to make these low- or reduced-fat/sugar/sodium products. You may be surprised at what you find. This page has some good points about why low-fat food can be bad for you and this one sheds light in to some foods that contain salt that you might not think of. Some things, like salad dressings, are actually easy to make yourself with ingredients you probably.

So what's my advice? Eat healthy, seasonal, local, flavorful food and you'll find you don't need as much of the other stuff anyway (salt, sugar, etc). Eventually, you might find that your tolerance for it has actually lowered. For example, I used to drink Code Red Mountain Dew and Venti Raspberry Mochas all the time back in high school and now, since I hardly ever drink soda, even Sprite is too sweet for me. This isn't to say I don't eat sweets, because I do every day, but I limit my intake and control how much sugar is in them by making most of them myself and being very particular about what I buy when I do purchase them. Eat whatever you want in moderation, choose healthy whole foods when you can, and really allow yourself to savor what you are eating.

And just a few other people's thoughts on the matter :)

Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity. – Voltaire

 It’s difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato. – Lewis Grizzard

Did you ever stop to taste a carrot? Not just eat it, but taste it? You can’t taste the beauty and energy of the earth in a Twinkie. – Astrid Alauda
One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating. – Luciano Pavarotti

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