Sunday, March 2, 2014

Let's forget about moderation

The Fray-Our Last Days

For quite some time now the buzz word for diet decisions has been "moderation." Suggest to others that you want to eliminate something and you'll get the usual scoff and token (unsolicited and unverified) comment that "everything's ok in moderation." Everything is most certainly not acceptable in moderation.

One should never tolerate in moderation or at all things like cigarette smoking, heroin, cocaine, abusive boyfriends, drinking and driving. The aforementioned examples are extremes, however, let's wax inquisitive about moderation when it comes to things like alcohol, fat, and sugar consumption. For those who experience addiction with alcohol and sugar, consumption in moderation is not plausible. The more we find out about sugar's negative effects the more we recognize the truth in this. I've posted these articles/studies before on how sugar is just as addictive as cocaine. Thus, there needs to be a sound basis for the suggestion of moderation when longitudinal studies are dictating otherwise. We would never suggest moderation to former drug addicts, so why are sugar and alcohol treated differently?

Addiction medicine is still relatively an undiscovered field. More research is required to understand why and how some people are just not able to moderate certain things. If the use of cocaine was as prevalent as sugar consumption we would most likely find the same story that addiction affects certain populations disproportionately. We find it so easy to judge sugar abstinence (and even alcohol abstinence) because these are both legal substances and also because the problems they cause are not immediately apparent (diabetes progression is slow, but it does directly correlate with sugar consumption) or are deemed as lack of impulse control. Addiction, like cancer, is a disease.

There's a lack of understanding and a lack of publicity of the findings that substantiate a person's aversion to sugar/alcohol. More introspectively, we may feel secretly judged/morally inferior to the individuals who have found, read, and utilize the hard evidence of science and correlate their own bodies' responses to these toxic substances and choose to alter their lifestyle. Thus, we may feel guilty for not doing the same, but their choice is a physiological one rather than a moral one. Let's just start by showing them support for making the choice.

Not too long back I used to be one of those individuals who thought dieters were weird; the practice seemed unnatural and I was under the veil of ignorance where I never questioned the world, my food habits, the food industry, the (very little and highly misinformed) food education, or even the FDA regulations. As I'm more embedded in academic medicine I realize that what we know now should always be subject to scrutiny. What I'm really asking for is a shift from the mindset that we have been conditioned to accept what is "general knowledge" without question. Instead, empower yourself by taking control of seeking answers and the truth through all the amazing resources that the technological age has offered at our fingertips, truly making informed decisions for yourself, and celebrating and learning from those who already do!
Let's hop to it!

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