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Sep 25, 2008 01:59 PM

What is moderation for you?

I keep reading all the time about how people eat in moderation. But I'm realizing that everybody has different definitions of what they consider moderation. Seriously, what does it mean? My dad used to eat beef three times a day when he was younger. I'll bet his idea of moderation back then was probably eating beef once or twice a day (which is far from my idea). And for households where they buy soda by the case, moderation for them may be twice a week. As my dad got older (and had a heart attack probably due to his thrice-a-day beef habit), he only has lamb about three times a year and refuses to eat all beef and products derived from beef.

These are my definitions pertaining to just me. While I don't follow these exactly, this is probably what it works out to. For example, it could be a few weeks that I don't have beef. But I can then eat an entire shortrib (which is probably about 1/2 lb of meat) or a burger 2 or 3 times in one week.

Beef/lamb -- 1-2x a week (1/4 lb portions)
Pork -- 1x every 2 to 3 weeks (1/4 lb portion)
Desserts (including bars of chocolate) -- 1-2x a week (a small cupcake I would consider 1/2 a dessert)
Eggs -- 3 or 4 a week (yolks included)
Super spicy foods (talking mabo tofu type of stuff) -- 1x a month
Foie gras -- 3 "portions" a year
Refined white sugar -- only in desserts and perhaps a fraction of a teaspoon here and there in a vegetable stir-fry
Butter -- whatever's in a dessert; otherwise about 1-2 TBS a week
French fries/potato chips -- 1-2x a month
Soda (not seltzer) -- 1 can a month
Coffee -- in desserts; once every two months
Cheese -- 1x (1-2 oz) every three weeks

And of course these definitions are not static and evolve over time.

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  1. ill bite:

    beef, pork, chicken, or turkey - 1-2 times a day
    fish - once a week
    shellfish - once a week
    eggs - 5-6 per week
    beer - 1+ case per week
    tequilla - 1+ bottle per week
    soda: I just quit - no big deal...(used to dring 2-3 a day)
    cheese - once a day
    coffee - never
    french fries - twice a month
    Italian Beef - 2-3 a month
    Gyros - 1-2 a month
    hotdogs/chili dogs - 6-10 a month
    butter - 4 sticks a week
    rice - 3-4 times a week
    pasta - 1-2 times a week
    potatoes - 1-2 times a week
    spicy food - 4-5 times a week
    green veggies - 1 x day
    fruits - 3-4 times a month
    cookies - 2-3 a month
    sweets - rare

    4 Replies
    1. re: swsidejim

      Thanks for your input.

      Ummm... about the 4 sticks of butter per week -- is that just for you? Are we talking about a stick being 1/2 cup? Or did you mean to say 4 sticks a month, or 4 sticks of butter for your entire family or something?

      1. re: Miss Needle

        a family of three for the butter. it is hard to break that one down since I make alot of cream soups, and other items where the butter goes into the mix(fried eggs, rice, etc). I just know a 4 pack of unsalted butter is pretty much a weekly item on the grocery list

      2. re: swsidejim

        "Italian Beef - 2-3 a month" Lucky you! I sure do miss my home town.

      3. i don't know what moderation means anymore. apparently i have an abnormal diet.

        fruit and veg at least every day
        sweets once a week or two weeks
        no potatoes
        no white rice/bread
        cheese every few days
        no other dairy
        no soda
        egg whites/tofu/fish alternating days
        no other meats (animals on land)

        but moderation is just giving yourself a break from time to time.
        if you can eat happily, and remain the same weight, then the scales are nicely balanced!
        although i do think many people eat too much unhealthy food... but they are quick, cheap and easy.

        but if i see macarons or creme brulee, i will throw guidelines out the window and devour all in my sight. but that doesn't happen often, so i let it go.

        you only live once!

        1 Reply
        1. re: dumpycactus

          Well, you do make a good point about the macarons. Actually, if I'm on vacation, all of this goes out the window as well -- or I guess I could inflate my previous values to incorporate my vacation eating.

        2. Your dad and beef sounds like me and coffee. I've recently started trying to cut back on my coffee consumption drastically (for fear of future osteoporosis). so now instead of having eight cups a day, i have two. it's a start!

          my other major vices i actually don't do too much to reign in, since i inevitably go through phases. once in a while, for a few days, i'll be obsessed with latkes and eat them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. the next week, i might develop cravings for Brussels sprouts and eat an entire pound in one sitting. i usually don't eat any eggs in a week. today, i had three. i don't usually eat sunflower seeds on a regular basis, but the other day, i ate a full cup as part of my dinner.

          i remember you said once that you believe your body craves what it needs. i think that's a good theory! perhaps moderation is about listening to your body -- including 'binging' on certain foods when that's what your body needs, but not doing that all the time.

          1 Reply
          1. re: cimui

            Oh, cimui, I used to be totally addicted to coffee. I loved the aroma and the taste of it. But it also made me jittery and gave me GI issues. It's a great thing that you cut your consumption. Cutting from eight to two is quite a big feat! I wish you luck with it. I drank a lot of tea to help me through my coffee addiction. It gave me a jolt of caffeine, but didn't give me the other negative symptoms I had with coffee.

          2. The original comment has been removed
            1. For most days, through the week sort of thing, moderation typically means what will fit within about a 1200-1500 calorie day. No I don't mean blowing it all on a huge slice of cake.

              Within that caloric range, I eat:
              -cheese, 1oz, at least once a day
              -olive oil, up to about a tablespoon a day. butter, if a recipe needs it, along the same range.
              -eggs, typically only on the weekends, but that's just because that's when i can have time to cook them.
              -usually one fruit, but many veg's throughout the day
              -typically for me, no "white" carbs....I keep my carbs in the whole grain variety (quinoa, wheatberry, beans, barley etc). I only eat bread at a restaurant, same goes for white rice and the occasional pasta. Even more rarely white potatoes.
              -soy foods up to the daily protein requirememt.
              -I drink at least one large coffee a day.
              -if and when i happen to crave a sweet, which is very rare, i'll cave.
              -same goes for pop, if i want it, i have it, in the sugar free varieities.
              -very very occasionally, I have seafood. No meat for me, by choice. I would live off french fries or potatoes in any form if given the chance, at the expense of proteins, veg and such, so I make myself limit those things to a very rare treat.
              -occasional glass of wine or two during the week, and I don't count it on the weekends.

              I see nothing wrong with eating regular fat yogurt, butter, cheese, piece of chocolate etc, as long as you're not gorging on it. Same goes for the occasional dessert, or dinner out on weekends. The occasional treat of deep fried items is also ok in my books. Again, as long as you're not living off the stuff.

              I limit frankenfoods in my diet, and think real butter and olive oil is superior to any of the weird margarine things out there. I just use less of it. I do use canned beans, but lately avoid canned soups and such, I try to cook my own instead.

              I don't buy frozen dinners such as lean cuisine etc, that some friends tell me that they eat because they are "healthy".

              4 Replies
              1. re: im_nomad

                You're so lucky that you don't have sugar cravings. All of my friends in grad school used to say that I should become a pastry chef because every time they saw me, I was eating a cookie or a pastry or something.

                I also know a lot of people who think that Lean Cuisine is very "healthy," but they tend to define healthy in just terms of calories and fats. In the low-carb craze, anything with low carbs was considered "healthy" as well. I had to endure many work lunches were everybody wanted to order the "healthy" Dominos thin-crust pizza.

                1. re: Miss Needle

                  I don't crave sweets, but a potato chip wouldn't survive the night in my house :) therefore they are rarely bought. There are exceptions to the sweets rule as I can't resist a peanut butter cup or mike and ikes if they are in the house, but i don't go looking for them either.

                  It's a good thing too, for a long while I made and sold cheesecakes from my home and thankfully was never ever tempted to eat them.

                  As for Lean Cuisine type dinners, they do have their place within healthier choices I suppose if you have a salad with it or something, and you're not someone who cooks and is trying to keep the calories down....but I had a friend recently tell me that they were "good for you". This to me means something that people SHOULD be eating in order to stay healthy....and IMO well that's just not the case.

                2. re: im_nomad

                  Interesting subject. Except that my "rules" would be so har d to convey in a mere few sentences, and I suspect it's true for many people too.

                  I'm pretty much on the same page as with i'm_nomad on moderation, starting with when he wrote "I see nothing wrong with...".

                  Trying to dissect this subject from a different angle:

                  Foods that I never buy myself, and would only dabble on when served or put in front of me: ANYTHING that contains margarine, hygrogenated oils, chemicals, artificial sugars, artificial anything, MSG, pesticides etc. Anything that is overly sweet/greasy/heavy. In addition, apart from eating only to be socially polite, I would only eat just enough to enjoy. This means I might still eat the cloyingly sweet-but-pretty cake in front of me, but only as a mini-serving, such as two bites.

                  One exception of food I'd get myself is if I have a craving for something -- crispy, hot fries, good ice-cream, foie-gras, coffee crisp etc.

                  One helpful exercise in moderation is, I try to visualize if I'd enjoy the next bite/serving of the food. If I don't think I would, I'd stop there. I realise we eat (and I used to) gobble things down without even knowing why, and it's not for hunger. I still do, but always trying to make sure I enjoy my food a lot. I have often seen people eat good food and then confess they feel guilty about it. That's a waste of good food!

                  I'd say I exercise moderation on white flours too, but it's still hard to say no to good bread or a good Jamaican patty :) To lend perspective, my idea on moderation is perhaps 1/3 of a baguette instead of the whole thing in one sitting. It helps to be snobbish and say no to chemical-laden and sugar-laced commercial bread and the likes :)

                  I'd eat three croissants in a row if they're really good, or a whole bag of kettle chips, if I'm sure I enjoy every bite of them ;)

                  1. re: tarteaucitron

                    "I'd eat three croissants in a row if they're really good, or a whole bag of kettle chips, if I'm sure I enjoy every bite of them"

                    I totally concur!