Weight loss is dependent on two things — better nutrition and increased physical activity. Exercise may come easily, but if you’re eating too much, even of the healthiest foods, your workouts will be in vain.
Dietitians are typically careful not to alienate one kind of food or a food group by labeling it as “bad” or by promoting that you avoid it entirely — forever.
But moderation can take on a different meaning for many people. Having an ice cream sundae only once a month may be moderate for some, but others may see it as a treat they must have weekly; Others, two to three times a week.
As for fried foods, this may be a once-a-year occurrence for the health enthusiast, while many others may reduce it to once a week. And to them, especially if they grew up with a typical Southern style of cooking, once a week is certainly reasonable.
Is there a standard? How much is too much? How often is too frequent and what are some factors that we need to consider?
First, think about the recommended daily amounts of sodium, added sugar and fat for a moment.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2010 decreased the recommended daily amounts for salt, to 2,300 mg daily, and it’s less for those who are older than 51 and who are at risk for heart disease. These people should limit their sodium intake to 1,500 mg per day.
As for cholesterol, we are advised to consume no more than 300 mg per day. Saturated fat? No more than 10 percent of your daily caloric intake. The American Heart Association has said men should consume no more than 36 grams of added sugar and women are limited to 24 grams per day.
Factors to consider also depend on current state of health, which includes health risk factors such as high blood pressure or diabetes and weight.
In my recent column about using coconut oil as a dietary supplement, a dietitian noted that moderation means balance. Tami Lawrence, with Mother Frances Hospital, said with a diet low in saturated fat but with plenty of fruits and vegetables, you can afford some things that aren’t so low in fat from time to time.
But there is no magic timeline. With that being said, I wish there was an internal alarm that went off which tells us ‘stop, you’ve surpassed your allowance for chocolate chip cookies for the month.’
Actually, we do have such an alarm — in the form of our conscious and in the form of how we feel when we eat too much of a “bad” thing. Sometimes we just ignore it.