Is moderation an excuse for overindulgence?

28 . 10 . 2020

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Written By

Min Benstead

Over the past six months, I have loosened the need for perfection and have been taking a more moderate approach. I have been choosing movement my body craves; food which serves me, and saying yes to activities which fill my heart and soul.

On the whole, taking a more moderate approach has been working for me. I have enjoyed eating ice cream with my kids over the summer months and a glass or two of wine when we have gone out for dinner… But in the last month I have noticed some habits slipping back in under the guise of ‘moderation’. From suggesting we have pizza for dinner to baking for the sake of taste testing, to having the extra two or three glasses of wine. Choices which perhaps don’t serve me as well as they could. Which has lead me to questioning if the word moderation can become an excuse to overindulge more regularly than not?

According to the dictionary, moderation is the process of eliminating or lessening extremes; a way of life where you are not indulging in too much of one thing.

I am a huge advocate of what “works for me may not work for you” and vice versa. Like most things. the idea of moderation for each person will be different and vary greatly. What I consider moderation might be enjoying something once a month, while you might enjoy the same things daily. And that’s ok. There is nothing to be gained by comparing your choices to others.

Let’s take food for example. I read so many articles about what we should and shouldn’t be doing; latest food fads and diets. I find it overwhelming…and confusing…and often extreme. Since when did food become an all-consuming pastime and so bloody hard?

Does this lead us to strive for “perfection” and in doing so, do we fall into the trap of telling ourselves that we aren’t good enough (which then can lead to mindless eating and other self-sabotaging behaviours)?

Sugar is one food where moderation is hard to exist. The more sugar we have in our diet, the more we want to eat. Will it kill you to eat it once in a while? Of course not. I truly believe in the power of real food but also believe that too much of a good thing can also be an issue! I have a weakness for nut butter. For me and nut butter there is no moderation button, so I abstain…. mostly!

Gretchen Rubin – guru in all things happiness and human nature – believes that you are either a moderator or an abstainer. Moderators are those that do better when they try to make moderate changes, avoiding absolutes. Abstainers find it far easier to give up something altogether rather than indulge moderately.

I’ve seen both in my coaching experiences. I myself have been both at different points in my journey. There is no right way or wrong way – it is knowing what works for you.

Am I a moderator or an abstainer? I’m not sure which bucket I fall into but I do know that I am grateful that I am able to recognise when moderation becomes an excuse to overindulge and can pull it back so that I am choosing movement my body craves; food which serves me and saying yes to activities which fill my heart and soul. I’m not perfect, nor do I strive to be. I’ll always be presented with choices and I have confidence that I will make the right choice for me at that point in time, continuing to be the best possible version of myself that I can be.

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