Are you a cheater?
Whether you’re trying to lose or gain weight, get more exercise, or improve some other aspect of your physical or emotional health, you are probably doing something nearly all of us tend to do. Cheat.
Yes, you heard me. I just called you a cheater. I’m a cheater too.
Ever hear the saying, “Everything in moderation?” That sounds good, but it makes all of us cheaters, and worse.
Because who gets to define how much is too much? Well, you of course, making moderation an excuse to do what you want, when you want it, as long as you don’t overdo.
In other words, the term moderation is totally subjective. It enables you to cheat, or fool yourself into thinking things like, “this little cookie won’t hurt” or, “I’ll exercise 10 minutes more tomorrow” but it does and you don’t.
Let’s look at an example. Let’s say, you think it is okay to have just a little dessert four nights a week. And let’s say that little dessert is a small bowl—like one cup—of ice cream one night, two cookies or a brownie two other nights, and some high-quality chocolate the other night.
That seems like moderation to me. (At least that used to be my definition.)
But moderation can kill. Michael Greger, M.D. says, “Moderate changes in diet can leave diabetics with moderate blindness, moderate kidney failure, moderate amputations—maybe just a few toes or something. Moderation in all things is not necessarily a good thing.”
The foods from my example contain the following amounts of fat and cholesterol:
• One 2-inch square brownie = 112 calories, 7 gms fat (1.8 saturated) 12 mg cholesterol
• Two chocolate chip cookies = 100 calories, 5 gms fat (1.5 saturated) no cholesterol
• One cup Breyers strawberry ice cream = 220 calories, 10 gms fat (6 saturated) 30 mg cholesterol
• One 40-gram package Dove dark chocolate = 210 calories, 13 gm fat (8 gm saturated) 1 mg cholesterol
That doesn’t look too bad, right?
Let’s look at the recommended dietary intake for fat and cholesterol. For someone who consumes a 2,000-calorie diet, the recommendations are to consume no more than 11 to 13 gm saturated fat or 5 to 6 percent of total calories. (Fat provides 9 calories per gram.)
Keep in mind that most women should eat closer to 1,500 calories to maintain their ideal weight. This means a 1,500 calorie diet should include no more than 8 grams of saturated fat per day, or the equivalent of that small package of Dove dark chocolate.
Of course the treats are not the only thing that provides fat and cholesterol in the average diet. Here are three common foods that make their contributions:
• One slice cheddar cheese (1 ounce) = 9.28 gms fat (5.9 saturated) 29 mg cholesterol
• One-half small chicken breast = 6.5 gms fat (1.8 saturated) 70 mg cholesterol
• One egg = 5 gms fat, (1.55 saturated) 212 mg cholesterol
Some dietary guidelines recommend consuming less than 300 mg of cholesterol per day; however, your body makes all you need so you really don’t need to eat any. Other guidelines, like those from the Institute of Medicine do not set upper limits for trans fat, saturated fat and cholesterol because they note that any intake above zero increases bad cholesterol.
Let’s put all this in context of moderation.
If you eat nearly all vegetables, legumes and whole grains all day and just have one ounce of cheddar cheese, one-half of a small chicken breast, and just one egg for your main meals, that’s not much, right?
Well those three things—assuming everything else consumed was spot-on healthy, no saturated fat, no dietary cholesterol—add 20.8 grams of fat for the day, 9.25 of which are saturated fat, as well as 311 mg of cholesterol.
So regardless of which dessert you choose, you’re already in the unhealthy range. Moderation, in this case, is not a good thing.
A better option is to pre-determine what is healthy and what is not, and where you could be allowed a “cheat” without making unhealthy choices. By planning ahead, you will know when you go off track because you’ll know where the track is.
If you made a New Year’s resolution this year, or set a goal, please make a comment and let us know how you’re doing with it, even if the answer is “not so good.” We want to celebrate with you or encourage you so we can get stronger together!