A bad thing in moderation is still a bad thing.
I used to do things in moderation. Bad, but seemingly harmless things concerning how I ate and what I ate. Seemingly harmless because I figured, what harm could they do if they were done in moderation?
I didn’t have an explanation for it and I didn’t really seek one. Now that I’ve eaten a whole food, plant-based diet since May of 2012, I’ve stopped doing the bad things in moderation and I don’t do them at all. I feel great and I lost over 60 pounds in the first eight months!
I had to step back and look at things to realize that my bad-things-in-moderation approach was backfiring and making me gain a lot of weight. Allowing myself one bad thing in moderation would lead to a second thing in moderation, followed by a third and fourth. Soon, I had my whole week filled with bad things in moderation and the good things were really the things I was doing in moderation. I had probably been doing this since I was old enough to make or purchase my own meals.
For example, I absolutely loved Chinese food. General Tso’s chicken was my favorite because usually the fried chicken pieces came smothered in the most sauce. Throw in a side of crab Rangoon, and I was a very happy man. I ate a moderate amount of Chinese food. Maybe once a week at lunch with my wife. Maybe every other week. Maybe every time I was at the food court at the mall or wanted a treat to eat in front of the TV while my wife was out of town.
I also loved carry-out pizzas, the local tex-mex drive through place that smothered everything in cheese and enchilada sauce, fast food chicken sandwiches on the dollar menu, chicken strips dipped in ranch from a local cafe right by where I worked and bagel sandwiches for breakfast from the drive-thru when I was running late for work. For dessert, that was simple. My wife and I loved frozen custard. My favorite, peanut butter flavored.
I allowed myself these little treats in moderation but, as you can imagine, it didn’t take long for me to have a whole week of bad things to treat myself with. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. The good meals were the ones that were actually eaten in moderation and this had been my diet up until something finally snapped inside and I sought a change. My wife and I watched Forks Over Knives. We became aware that the foods we were eating were going to make us sick. Aside from being obese, I showed no signs of three of the biggest killers that a plant-based diet can help prevent and reverse: heart disease, diabetes and cancer. I have always had good cholesterol and the only time I ever had high blood pressure was at a doctor appointment about three weeks before my wedding…
I didn’t want to wait for any signs of sickness to approach. I know that the standard American diet would have eventually led me to those diseases. My wife and I wanted to change the way we ate right away and we did just that. We wanted our diets to actually make us healthier people and give us the proper nutrition we need to grow old and happy together and get our son off to a great start. The day after watching Forks Over Knives we watched the Engine 2 Kitchen Rescue, cleaned out our cabinets and went on a shopping trip. We read The Engine 2 Diet and developed a healthy lifestyle based on plant-based eating.
I had no trouble going at this 100 percent right from the beginning. I knew that allowing myself one or two bad things in moderation would still be bad things and they could turn into a whole week’s worth of bad things.
Think about the bad things you allow yourself to do in moderation. Do those things, though done in moderation, outweigh the good things? If so, do you need to make a clean break from all bad things like I did, or would a few tweaks get you back on track?
P.S. I write this as I eat one-third of a vegan, dark chocolate bar. A bad thing in relation to the veggies and black bean dip I had for lunch, but enjoyed in moderation…! I’ll never be perfect, but if I ever really wanted to, I would probably have to go completely raw and organic, or as the suave, young tree huger on The Simpsons who captured Lisa’s eco-friendly heart said, I would have to become a level 5 vegan and not eat anything that casts a shadow.