When it comes to the problematic foods we eat that move us away from our health and fitness goals, we have a choice to make. We can either aim to continue to occasionally indulge in these foods with more exceptional care and moderation, or we can remove them from our lives altogether.
So which strategy is most effective?
As with all lifestyle considerations, the answer is ‘it depends.’
The simplest way to determine whether a food (or vice) should be moderated or eliminated is to make an honest evaluation of where the control lies- within you, or within the food/vice?
Let’s use pizza as a simple example. If you order an extra-large pizza on Friday night for you and your family, can you pre-plan and hold yourself to a reasonable portion? If you eat two slices of pizza, but there are 8 slices leftover, can you stick to just eating the two slices or will you continue eating merely because more pizza exists? Do you have the resilience and discipline to leave the leftovers in the fridge for the kids the next day, or are they going to end up being your late-night snack?
If you can control the indulgence, you can moderate it. If (more often than not) the indulgence takes control of you, you need to draw a line in the sand and eliminate it from your life.
Some common examples of moderate vs. eliminate ‘stuff’:
Sugary/sweet foods (candy, desserts, ice cream, all things chocolate, even some fruit)
Chips and snacky foods (potato chips, crackers, etc.)
Dinner starches (mashed potatoes, pasta, rice, pseudo-grains)
Fatty food indulgences (peanut butter, cheese, fried foods)
Technology, drugs, coffee, the list goes on and on
Just put it this way: A person who drinks alcohol 3-4 nights per week in social settings who occasionally wakes up with an unintended hangover can probably change their relationship with alcohol while keeping some of it in his or her life. An alcoholic who will step over the line every time he or she starts drinking needs to draw a clear line in the sand and get alcohol out of the house and get away from people and environments where alcohol lives.
You need to honestly assess yourself without the common rationalizations and justifications we use as fog to allow our addictions and vices to exist even though they are clearly destructive.
So, is ‘X” food/habit/vice in your explicit control, or does it have power over you?
The honest answer should lead to the decision to moderate or eliminate.