In 2014, when I was deployed to Afghanistan, I mentioned to a co-worker that I was looking to lose some weight. I was 5’11” and about 215 at the time, so compared to society’s view of people who need to lose weight, I was in pretty decent shape. However, in my own eyes, I wanted to drop a few pounds.
Like many of us, I knew that I was not eating the best and wanted to eat better. So as we talked more about this food and that food, she said, “Well you know…in moderation, you should be okay.”
Before I continue, let me make two things perfectly clear. One, I am not looking for weight loss, nutrition or health advice through this blog post. Two, what I write here is not an adequate substitute for advice from nutritionists or medical professionals.
Anyway, that was not the first time I heard the expression “In moderation.” However, there was something about that phrase that did not sit well with me, even knowing a little less then than I do now. First off, how good could it be if I need to do it “in moderation”? Along with that, what exactly is “moderation”? When would I hit that exact “moderation” point? What is the universal definition? What other factors determine what “moderation” is? One day a week or six? After all, as long as it is not seven days a week, I could convince myself that that would be moderation, right?
But there I was, trying to justify to myself that as long as I don’t eat unhealthy foods all the time, that it was the same as eating healthy. For some reason, even with all the excuses I could come up with (no thanks to my co-worker), simply laying off of unhealthy sounded so much better.
It is sort of like those people who steal grapes from the supermarket. I am sure that many folks believe that as long as one doesn’t take that many, that it’s okay. But then, here we are once more, now with the dilemma of wondering what exactly constitutes as “not that many.” Five grapes? Ten? Two and then come back? A handful at a time? The rest from the bunch that was pretty much already gone? Everyone has a different definition.
But guess what? That is still stealing. Doesn’t matter how many others do it. Oh right…there’s another justification. Others do it, so I shouldn’t be that bad. No matter what one could come up with, not stealing is always the better option. Even for those grape enthusiasts, a little part of you will always say to leave the grapes alone. Hopefully.
When it comes to eating unhealthy, there are more excuses than I can count; even those I have been guilty of using myself. Don’t get me wrong; like many folks, I grew up on all that stuff. Cheeseburgers, french fries, pizza, fried chicken, and so on. They taste good! Having no idea what was contained in them, I would eat without a care in the world. And as someone who loves to exercise, hey…I could just do an extra lap the next day. Or, as an Army soldier for 21 years, I often determined my meals on how I close I was to or past our bi-annual physical fitness test. Just knowing I could “get rid” of the bad foods by running or lifting the next day was all the convincing I needed.
Then the infamous “I’m young. I have a high metabolism.” Enough said.
I was also someone who once measured health strictly by a person’s weight. I was very young when I realized that even thin folks could be unhealthy, especially once I started seeing thin folks began to exhibit health issues.
But back to the excuses. Here are some of my “favorites:”
“You have a high metabolism.”
“Men lose weight easier than women.”
“Don’t worry; you just took your physical fitness test.”
“You’re going to the gym tomorrow, right?”
“People who eat right can also have health issues.”
“Humans are carnivores.”
“Live a little!”
“Only white people go vegan/vegetarian!”
“Eat meat like a man!”
And the list goes on.
Speaking again of eating unhealthy foods “in moderation,” I first heard a great analogy by my friend, author and nutrition psychologist Dr. Robyn Odegaard, who with her husband, health and longevity coach, and former bodybuilder Russell Bruzzano, wrote the book, “How to Feed a Human – the Whole Food Muscle Way.” (link below). Robyn said that justifying the eating of unhealthy foods “in moderation” was similar to justifying hitting yourself in the head with a smaller hammer.
While there are a great deal of other analogies that could fit here as well, what many fail to understand is that if you have to do something “in moderation,” then obviously it isn’t the best choice in the first place.
The United States has a serious problem with obesity and statistically, it is only getting worse. I did say above that it is not only the overweight and obese folks who are unhealthy, but let me be clear. The majority of those who are obese and/or overweight are there because of poor nutrition and lack of exercise. Yes, there are the medical issues, but let’s not hide behind them. A lot of folks simply do not care about what they put in their bodies and it has little way of showing than through our body sizes. I do not need anyone to tell me that thin people can be unhealthy also; I already said that twice. But that does not take away from the facts.
There is a great deal of evidence that a diet consisting primarily of animal products can lead to a host of health issues such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, and others. People seem to hate hearing this, but don’t shoot the messengers. Contrary to popular belief, we did not all just get together one day and decide to create all these lies about our bodies not being able to digest animal products. That was the case long before we came along.
One thing meat-eaters love to throw back at us is how some people have lived long lives being meat-eaters also, along with the fact that even those who eat healthy could have health issues. For starters, not a single person I know has stated that health issues happen only with those who eat meat or are obese. But more often than not, they do. No amount of deflection will change that. For everyone one example you can give where someone lived into their 90s while eating meat for presumably his or her entire life, I can give you ten more in which someone died at a young age or are experiencing a great deal of health problems as a direct result of poor nutrition.
Speaking of which, yes, people could eat animal-based foods and be alive for a great deal of years. However, let’s talk about those who are in wheelchairs for the last 15-20 years of their lives. Those who have to take a great deal of medicine. Those who are largely bedridden. That isn’t exactly “living.”
There is also this enormous belief that unhealthy eating is what leads to happiness. I have yet to receive any scientific evidence of this. Yesterday, I posted a story on Facebook in which a chef who made it his business to insult vegetarians recently died of a heart attack at the age of 44. A “friend” posted to the effect that he “clearly enjoy all 44 of those years” presumably as a result of his diet. My wife asked her if she actually knew this man to know this for certain and big surprise, we are still waiting for her response to that. I’m not holding my breath.
One thing I am pretty certain about is that absolutely no one chooses to leave this earth in their 30s and 40s, especially as a result of a poor diet. When evidence is presented about the unhealthy food options out there, people will snap back with responses such as, “Well, you gotta die of something!” or “At least I will die happy!”
But guess what? I’m pretty sure not a single one of them is okay with having heart attacks, diabetes, cancer, or other health issues. I have a pretty good feeling that none of them chose to die before the age of 50. So, yes…it is true that not everyone dies at a young age. But they often suffer a lot as well or are on medicine for the rest of their lives. Raise your hand if you decided at a young age that you would be okay with taking medicine for the rest of your life, especially due to a life choice. Exactly.
You can do what you want. That is not an arguing point; that is a given. We always have the choice to do what we want. Your world.
But what you cannot do is argue facts with opinions. There is no need to catch an attitude just because some folks want to raise awareness for healthy eating habits. Yes, there are those who are nasty toward meat-eaters, which is not right. Insults and attacks are never okay. But if you do not exhibit that same level of passion when vegans and vegetarians are attacked insulted, please save it. You’re not being unbiased; you’re fighting for your stance.
Those who eat animal-based love to bring up the fact that we need to because of protein. But what do cows eat? Right. Where do you think their protein is coming from? There is not a single nutrient found in animals that cannot be found in plant-based foods. So that is not a valid rebuttal, either.
Speaking of cows, let’s talk quickly about milk. Of course, we have learned for many years that milk “does a body good.” Vitamin D, right? Well, cow’s milk is intended for their babies to grow up to nearly 400 pounds. 400. And this is what we are being told to drink? That we need this?
Along with the other issues this could present, again, we are drinking something that is meant to help something else grow to 400 pounds. Is there any wonder that people struggle to lose weight or to keep it off when drinking milk?
“But the Vitamin D…” You can get Vitamin D from many sources, but the most natural way and best way is by exposing your bare skin to sunlight. That’s right. Just walk outside and you can get it. While milk does have Vitamin D, it is not nearly enough that our body needs. So along with it being unhealthy, it isn’t even giving us what we need.
So while there will always be a way to justify poor eating habits, there really no substitute for the truth. Our bodies were not designed to digest animal products. For example, you would not put cooking grease in your garbage disposal, an appliance designed for grinding up food waste in a matter of seconds.
So why would you put it in your body?
*Writer’s Note: If you are interested in learning more about plant-based nutrition, you can find Robyn Odegaard and Russell Bruzzano’s book, “How to Feed a Human – the Whole Food Muscle Way” on Amazon at the following link: