Ah, that golden, overstated rule that’s still so very true.
I can easily be an extremist about anything; with food and nutrition, it can range from eating super healthily to eating super unhealthily. My love for peanut butter will deplete a jar within a week, while my short-term, self-imposed “bans” on peanut butter will drive me crazy.
It’s that middle ground, that’s so difficult to find and maintain, where we can fully grasp the idea of “indulging in moderation”. Maintaining this middle ground requires continuing effort; like weight, it’s not something that you achieve once and keep for life.
So how do we go about finding this middle ground and then maintaining it? To be very honest, I find that completely refraining from that temptation (whatever it is – it may be a specific food or even a non-food related product) at first helped me at first. “If you don’t buy it, you can’t eat it”, is a popular tip that really does work. Yes, we start with extremism, but we work our way back up to that middle ground.
Once your taste buds have forgotten that desire, then slowly reincorporate that “taboo” product into your life. Buying smaller quantities will not only physically control your portions (which I think is the root problem of overindulgence) but also mentally – smaller portions tend to be more expensive than their Costco/Sam’s Club sized counterparts; why go crazy and eat all of something if you know that it’s pretty expensive? Freezing a product in proper serving portions may also help by discouraging frequent consumption. Once frozen, more effort is required to reheat the product before consuming it. Having pre-portioned servings also makes you think twice before dishing out extra portions for yourself.
These may seem like trivial and inconvenient practices, but they’re only temporary. Once you gain a sense of balance, a sense of awareness of your own habits, a sense of self-control, there’s really no need to continue these practices for life. The idea of “moderation” is mostly mental; these physical practices only help you develop that mental idea of moderation and put it into practice.
Granted, you may slip back into overindulgence, but with that developed sense of moderation, it’ll be easier to re-gain self-control and discipline. Overindulgence isn’t all that bad once in a while either (ahem, Thanksgiving), but it’s just frequent overindulgence that we should discourage ourselves from. Remind yourself every now and then to reflect on your habits to help you maintain that balance. Think of yourself standing on a balance board: every now and then, you may teeter more towards one extreme or the other, but you won’t be stuck on one side for as long as you used to be. It’s much more liberating to be teetering ever so slightly, near that middle, balance point, anyways. You free yourself from restricting rules that inhibit your enjoyment of life and food, and you free yourself from the mental and health-related consequences of frequent overindulgence.
I say this all as I continually work on finding and maintaining balance, in all areas of my life :). I struggle and get stuck on extremes too, even falling off of the balance board every now and then. I’m no role model, but I figured I’d share my thoughts and tips (gained through personal experience) in hopes that someone out there benefits from them :)