Moderation has its place. But there are times when we are called to be disciplined, not moderate.
I’m sure you’ve heard the term “moderation” over and over in regard to eating healthy. And there is truth to the concept behind it. But I think it’s been taken too far, and can easily become an excuse for us.
Moderation and Deprivation
There’s something really popular among us health nuts, called the 80/20, or the 90/10 rule. Rather than eating SO clean/healthy 100% of the time, you choose to be flexible with 10-20% of your diet. Rather than getting to the point of stuffing all candy/cookies/ice cream/pizza that exists, in your face at once, because you just can’t stand it anymore….instead you allow yourself to have that cookie, or a little ice cream (maybe it’s even homemade “healthy” ice cream), or pizza every once in a while…whatever is a satisfying indulgence for you. And you do this 10-20% of the time. For a lot of women, this approach (or something similar) to healthy eating is the most sustainable for the long haul. And it’s certainly better than going bonkers and giving up completely because you tried to go 100%, full-steam-ahead, and couldn’t make it.
There’s also this concept of “deprivation”, which ties to the 80/20 rule. When we tell ourselves that we CAN’T eat something, we can start to feel very deprived. Our desire for that cookie is doubled, because not only will it taste good, but we haven’t been “allowed” to have it all week, so we want it even more. On a psychological level, it’s true that telling yourself something is completely “off limits” often makes you want it even more. After all, the grass is usually greener on the other side.
Okay. So these concepts of moderation and not feeling deprived make a lot of sense. I totally get them both. But there has to be a balance in all of this. Popular advice will tell you to have that brownie if you really want it, or otherwise you’ll go crazy and end up eating the whole pan later. I say, that’s not the case. You CAN say no to the brownie, and have “victory” in this area. We can’t forget that temptations exist, even in the form of food.
It’s so easy for us to stick “moderation is KEY!” on the front of every weak moment. Even the ones we regret, and the ones that take us further from our goals. At some point, moderation will stop being moderate, unless discipline comes into play.
Discipline is doing the hard thing, when it’s the right and good thing to do.
As a Christian, discipline can be applied to so many areas of our life. Reading God’s Word can be a spiritual discipline; we don’t always feel like it, but investing in our relationship with our Savior is the most important thing we can do. Exercise is a physical discipline- you’re pushing your body to do what is not comfortable, to see a positive change (whether that change be physical, mental, or emotional). In the same way, our choices of what, when, and even how we eat, need discipline. Moderation, yes. But also discipline.
We can’t never say no to our flesh, because we think it will prevent a worse choice later on. Really, I think fear is at the root of this. Fear of discomfort and struggle. We don’t like not getting what we want, when we want it. But we have to stop being afraid of feeling deprived, and know that this feeling doesn’t HAVE to lead us to bad choices.
Now, I’m not saying we should walk around feeling deprived all of the time. We can’t feel sorry for ourselves because the choices we’re making are hard. Let’s flip our thinking to one of gratitude, rather than deprivation. You may say no to certain foods because you HAVE to. Maybe you have food allergies or intolerances. This can be really hard. Maybe you choose not to indulge in certain foods at certain times because of the effect it has on your body composition, sleep, etc. Or maybe, you choose to avoid them for general, longterm health. Whatever the case, be grateful for the healthy foods that are within your boundaries. Choose to have the mindset of, “I don’t WANT to, rather than, “I CAN’T”. Remind yourself of WHY your personal boundaries are there, and focus on the positive.
Personality will also come into play here. Clare Smith was the one who first introduced me to this concept. Some of us are the all-or-nothing kind of girls (definitely me!). If we give a centimeter, we’ll end up giving a mile. But some of us do very well with a more moderate approach, and this works better for us. What does it look like for you? Sometimes discipline is saying NO to the candy. And sometimes it’s saying YES in moderation, but no to MORE of it. Or, “not right now, but later”. Your balance of moderation AND discipline, will be different from everyone else’s. Don’t let yourself get caught up in the comparison game (believe me, I’ve been there, and it’s NOT helpful).
There are times for moderation, but it can’t be an EXCUSE. So, let’s exercise some discipline this week, when it comes to our eating habits, physical activity, and our time in God’s Word.
So, what are your thoughts on the 80/20 rule? Are you all-or-nothing, or a little more moderate? In what ways are you needing more discipline with your health?