Blog Archives

How to moderate successfully

In the discussion on different types of paleo eaters, I mentioned that certain types of paleo eaters eat certain things, like dairy or fruit, in moderation. Likewise, when many people aspire to lose weight, they say that they are going to cut back certain things and only eat them “in moderation.”

For many people, “in moderation” turns into an excuse to nibble on something every once in a while. When this happens, “in moderation” turns into “in excess.” Most people have no idea how to moderate, and saying that they will do something in moderation ends up being just a way they can avoid cutting out bad foods entirely.

However, I still hold that moderation is possible. But there are certain ways you have to do it.

Define it in numbers

Moderation is a vague term. But, for kicks, let’s consult the dictionary before we continue.

1. the quality of being moderate;  restraint; avoidance of extremes or excesses; temperance.
4. in moderation, without excess; moderately; temperately: to drink in moderation.

If you can tell me what the hell that means for the specific person, I’ll give you $100. Moderation depends on what you consider extremes to be, and that all depends on what your diet is. Clearly you don’t think your current consumption of potato chips is extreme, else you wouldn’t be doing it. This is why using a vague definition of moderation almost always leads back to old habits.

Instead, be hard and fast with your definition. If you believe that drinking juices is okay in moderation, then define EXACTLY what that means. Can you drink juice once a month? One week out of a month? Once a week? Once a day?

Be sure to do this when the thing that is tempting you is not in front of you.

And then keep track

My paleo records TOTALLY look like this...

My paleo records TOTALLY look like this...

Did I have a glass of orange juice last night or last week? Oh, I can’t remember, might as well have one now…

Does that sound familiar? It happens quite frequently when people want to limit something that they want to “moderate.” They get fuzzy memories on the last time they consumed it. Don’t be that guy! If you are truly dedicated to moderation, then keep a log of what it is you are moderately eating. Keep it online so that you always have access to it. When you feel yourself wanting your moderated good, consult the list. If you’ve already used up your consumption for that time period, then find something else to eat.

Keep your moderate food out of your home

Even though you are not cutting out the food entirely, it’s still a good idea to keep it out of the house. Even those with the best records and best definition of what they mean by moderate will have a hard time facing the temptation of having their food in the house.

Get rid of it. This will  raise the cost of getting the food. You’ll have to get up, go to the store and purchase it. It will likely cost you more that way, also. This ensures that when you go for that food, it is because you truly want it, and not just because you’re craving something sweet/salty/whatever and have it on hand. This will help you cut down on how much you consume just by nature of the location of the food to you.

Know your limitations

Don’t pick a food to moderate that you can’t control yourself with. There is no way I could “moderate” potato chips or french fries. The temptation is too big. When I do get them, I binge.

If you’re trying to moderate that kind of food, you are going to fail. It is better to cut it out entirely.

Moderation can be a good tool for foods that you consider “bad” by your way of eating, but it should not be used for foods that have control over you. Moderation is a power. Use it wisely.


The Pizza Dilemma

Oh my gods, I love pizza.

Please do not masturbate to the food porn.

Or, I guess I should say, I know I used to.

I haven’t had pizza in gods know how long, and whenever I think about “breaking” paleo, pizza is the first thing I jump to. When I think about staying on the paleo diet, thinking about never ever having pizza again is usually the first thing that pops into my mind.

Here’s the dilemma. If I’m  not hungry, looking at that picture of pizza makes my stomach turn.

So I both desire and am repulsed by pizza. Even still, the idea of pizza is somehow attractive to me. This has been an ever-present dilemma the past few weeks as this craving for pizza has just popped up over and over again.

I was thinking it would be worthwhile to try and have a slice, much like the Dairy Queen experiment, just to see what happens.  But I am very cautious because pizza is something that I actively want, and it is also something that I have used as a stress food/fun food in the past. When I think about eating pizza, I think about ordering a pizza, sitting down with Anthony and Darcy and watching a movie. I think about good times with my dad.

So you see the dilemma. I am repulsed by the idea of pizza (in the carnation that I used to eat it — Pizza Hut) because it’s greasy and gross and has lots of stuff on it that’s really bad for me. But I want it, I think, because I miss hanging out with Darcy, Dad, and in some ways, Anthony (I have been really busy with work lately).

Hm. I had no idea that last sentence was going to come out until it was typed. This post has now become something that I didn’t intend.

Clearly, pizza is not the solution to these problems. Given the circumstances of all three situations, I am not sure if could be remedied. But perhaps now that I am aware of the manifestation of pizza as a sign that something needs to be fixed, I can take a better approach.

I had planned this post to outline a system of testing non-paleo foods, to see how my body reacts to them and to give some more “data” to my consideration of making paleo into a lifestyle. But perhaps I have some other thinking to do. I am sure such a post, if it’s even still necessary, will come later.


The D-word

I ran across this article today while, ah, at a computer. It has inspired me, not necessarily to think about these things (which I have already done), but to post them here.

Additionally, I went to visit one of my favorite professors today (Dr. Scott, for the win!) and had a conversation with her that also lead me to some pondering and made me realize I need to share some of my thoughts here also. So here we go.

I strongly dislike the word “diet.” Diet reeks of fads, trends, and overall it’s just not a very precise word. Everyone has a diet, they just either have good ones or bad ones. Also — and this is something that my professor said — diet usually means deprivation of some kind and when you’re off the diet, you just go back to eating the way you did before.

As previously discussed, that is not how I view my weight loss. But I usually throw out the d-word because it’s what’s easiest for people to understand. But I don’t think that I’m going to do that anymore, because, again, as we’ve discussed, the way you speak about something inherently shapes how you think about it.

So, even when talking to someone who is unfamiliar with what I am trying to do, I think I am just going to say that I am “changing my relationship with food.” I want to say it this way because A) that is my ultimate goal, even if I am focused on the weight-loss portion of it right now and B) I don’t really feel like I’m on a diet per se. Even psychologically, I don’t feel, at this point, any different. Diet just has all of these weird connotations that I don’t want, don’t have, and aren’t applicable.

I am going to lose 50 pounds before my cousin’s wedding. This is true. But I am also going to fundamentally change my relationship with food. So that I control what goes into my body, rather than food controlling me (as it often has and admittedly still does).

So, anyway, on to the article. I have about seven minutes before I go to class.

The article talks about using shame and embarrassment to basically kick your ass into losing weight.

I don’t really like his approach to this. As we have talked about before, it has been my shame and embarrassment that has kept me from losing weight in the past. However, the author does mention a lot of things that I do think are good ideas and things that I have struggled to implement.

1) Tell everyone The author explains how he told everyone that he was losing weight so that the fear of that wide, public failure would keep him in line. He says that most people tell their significant other and maybe their best friend when they go on a diet, but it’s not as shocking when they give up because those people are used to seeing you fail.

My particular interpretation of this rule is this: you should tell everyone because it helps you to overcome your shame and embarrassment. It definitely helped me. The sheer publicness of this blog (I get about 200+ reads per post) lets everyone know what I’m doing. Yes, there is a certain amount of fear involved. I don’t want to let these people down. However, most of the positive contributions from making this change publicly. Most everyone knows what I’m doing. I get lots of cheers when I do well, and lots of support when I struggle. No one offers me ice cream or bread or dairy, and that is because they know what I am trying to do.

2) Pick an Extreme Diet I agree with this one, too, but again for different reasons. Coach and I talked about how people tend to half-ass things, and how they tend to fail at making good habits, because they reinforce the old ones. Me, circa five years ago: “Well, I won’t cut out chips entirely, but I’ll limit myself to the serving size.” Yeah, that went well. I think it’s also important to not pick a new way of eating that is clearly going to tempt you do cheat. Atkins was especially bad at this, because people could eat LOTS of things that were really bad for you and had similar tastes to the things that they were saying they were trying to avoid. It’s not a very far step from bacon to potato chips.

At this point, a rule-based diet has been really helpful for me. In the past, I didn’t change what I ate, I changed how much of it I ate. Which for some, it works. But the rigid structure of these things I can eat and these things I can’t has been really helpful in keeping me at it. Structure is good, rules are good, and it’s been easier to stay inside the lines.

3) Set a time limit, not a weight limit. I definitely agree here, though I do keep a weight goal too. I do not think I have posted it here, but I have committed myself to being full paleo until I graduate from college. It is not a “Oh, it’s the day after graduation, let me go have a party and eat ten pizzas” time limit, but rather a “my body  needs time to shift the way it’s used to eating. I’m gonna give it that time,” regardless as to whether or not I get to 135 before May 8.  It goes along with the “I’m not on a diet, I’m changing my relationship with food” idea. Additionally, as I approach that timeline, I can take on the project of trying to understand how I can re-implement “bad” foods into my diet carefully so that they don’t overwhelm me. If I even want to at that point.

Also, like the author says, time limits are easier to hold to. They are concrete and they keep going. If you set a weight goal and you bounce up five pounds, you’ve distanced yourself even further and become discouraged. But time marches on, and every day, every second, you are closer to your goal, and that’s much easier to manage.


I have some more meta-dieting thoughts, but if I don’t sign off soon I’m gonna be late for class.