“Moderation” is an industry-friendly term that veers away from directly encouraging the frequent consumption of some foods (i.e. fresh fruits and vegetables) and the much-more infrequent consumption of others (i.e.: highly processed, minimally nutritious fare).
A recent study published in the journal Appetite delves further into why “moderation” is a problematic and deceptive term.
From New York Magazine‘s “Science of Us” column:
- “Telling someone to eat unhealthy things in moderation is a bit like asking them to re-create a recipe that calls for a pinch of one ingredient and a dash of another. Your idea of a pinch and a dash, in all likelihood, is going to be different from mine. Maybe it even changes each time you cook, or fluctuates depending on what you’re making.”
- “In other words, it’s an instruction so vague as to be fundamentally unhelpful. And in the absence of any standard measure, we’re each left to our own devices to figure out what moderation actually means. Which isn’t really a great strategy, as far as health strategies go.”
Highlights from Psych Central:
- “The more people like a food, the more forgiving their definitions of moderation are, said the study’s lead author Michelle van Dellen, an assistant professor at the University of Georgia.”
- “Moderation is a relative term,” she said. “When people talk about eating in moderation, it doesn’t allow them a clear, concrete way to guide their behavior.”
- “People do think of moderation as less than overeating, so it does suggest less consumption. But they do think of it as more than what they should eat. So moderation is more forgiving of their current desires. … The more you like a food, the more of it you think you can eat in moderation.”
All foods technically “fit,” but they don’t all fit equally.