“Astute physicians should appreciate that especially regarding “chronic” (i.e. sustained) health problems, any treatment plan that allows the patient to resume his or her previous lifestyle is by definition doomed to fail because a return to the patient’s lifestyle and activities that allowed the onset of the disease/ disorder in the first place will certainly result in the perpetuation and reoccurrence of the illness or disorder.”

Dr. Alex Vasquez – All The Degrees

How do you walk this path and go back to normal life?

You can’t.

Sorry.

But if 66% of our country is overweight or obese (estimated to be 95 % in about 20 years) and 30% of those of normal weight are overfat and ½ of Americans are currently pre-diabetic or diabetic.

Hold on. I’ll keep going.

If 1 in 6.5 Americans suffer from depression and more prescriptions are written for anti-depressants than there are people in the states, if 15% of the population is constipated, if 1 in 5 have acid reflux, if over ¼ have chronic insomnia, if over 50 million have an autoimmune disease, if 1 in 10 couples can’t conceive, and if 1 in 15 children can’t concentrate, and if per the USDA 51% of what Americans eat is processed food, 42% is dairy and animal products, and only around 7% is produce…

Why would you want to be normal?

Why would you want to fit in?

Why would you even begin to care?

Because environment rules all. No one wants to be different. No one wants to be isolated. We are social creatures.

But, wait, stay in line, don’t rock the boat somebody might get f*cking uncomfortable.

Just eat that sandwich kid and finish your milk.

Yes, this is coming from a Hippie man who lives in the Jungle. I get it. Some people feel I don’t need to prequalify my opinion, but I completely understand that I am biased from my life experiences and the human beings I consult with on a daily basis. I used to play on the fence and I know that playing both the long game and structured flexibility game does work. I have lived in both realms, I just chose the more extreme as it seems to fit my personality and I find it works faster and if we change environment hangs on just as well.

Everything I do will not work for everyone. It’s time all of us come to terms with that.

Also, I believe in Dan Millman when he said “moderation is death.” Because again this construct has worked for me and I have very addictive tendencies likely from a mix of genetics and personal preferences. There wasn’t a day in my first two years of college where I didn’t have a sports bet in play. (for the nerds – Hello Dopamine and COMT and MAO SNPs combined with an extremely competitive environment). I am however not blind to the fact that some people get fantastic results with controlled flexibility. If it works for you all I ask is that you buy the highest quality food you can afford.

“Moderation? It’s mediocrity, fear, and confusion in disguise. It’s the devil’s dilemma. It’s neither doing nor not doing. It’s the wobbling compromise that makes no one happy. Moderation is for the bland, the apologetic, for the fence-sitters of the world afraid to take a stand. It’s for those afraid to laugh or cry, for those afraid to live or die.”

-Dan Millman

OR

“Everything in moderation, including moderation.”

-Oscar Wilde

What I ask of my clients is that they consciously ask if the risk benefit ratio of Chick-Fil-A is worth it. No one can answer that question but them, and my singular goal is to provide all the information I can about that choice. I am asking them to wake up, to make a conscious decision.

For some people moderation will eat away at all their habits and in time they will go right back to where they were, because they are moderating and moderating is healthy. Rainbows. Butterflys. Five Dollar Foot Long!

For others, they can moderate some things no problem and diet flexibility works really well for them, but you better make damn sure that this flexibility is not blasting your GI tract and causing an inflammatory process that won’t stay local.

I recently had a discussion with an amazing fitness professional about the demonizing of certain foods and the effects that restrictive eating can have on one’s emotional and social health. It should be noted that people can look absolutely shredded and eat processed food. But, are they healthy? I don’t know. I don’t have their data. If everything looks great and they are performing well – fantastic – get after it.

But should we as a nation eat pesticide soaked GMOs, which have been allowed to be innocent until proven guilty in a research platform where it is possible to silence results if you have enough money? Should we eat grains, dairy, soy, eggs, tree nuts, shellfish, night shades, high FODMAP foods, and on and on? That answer is highly individual and I absolutely do not want people to live on the fence with their diet. If you feel amazing, are getting results, are at a healthy body composition, and have labs that show the inside matches the outside, very likely you don’t want to overhaul anything.

My favorite example of this is client who was eating pounds of meat a day, very little vegetables, and consuming copious amounts of caffeine. He felt pretty damn good and was performing well. His labs looked phenomenal and he saw me out of pure curiosity, and his buy-in was self-admittedly low. No problem. I asked him to drink more water, take a few nutrients he needed, and eat more vegetables, but not at the expense of lowering calories too heavily. He emailed me a few weeks ago to say his brain is working much better. Small win and all we needed. Carry on.

Yet, if you don’t feel all that well or as good as you used to and the majority of Americans don’t, you should take a deeper look at your life and what you put in your mouth. There are many ways to check for allergies and immunoreactivities to food. I have discussed this at length in multiple articles as have many others. Dr. Vasquez has a great review of all the testing methodologies pros and cons on page 393 of his textbook, Inflammation Mastery.

I believe in elimination diets that include forgoing many paleo friendly foods. These protocols tend to work best when they are handled by an outsider. And the biggest key is not jumping back in too fast. If you take this on do your absolute best to add foods back in appropriately after a three to four week elimination period, 1 food item every two to three days.

I also, believe that very few people should stay on very restrictive diet long-term. And the degree of restriction will all depend on the individual situation. If it has to stay restrictive we need to think outside the box on how we can motivate or hold this person accountable to maintain such a diet and then we need to come back and take another look in 3 to 6 months.

If you are really gung-ho on moderation and this ideology that every food can be healthy. Please read Gretchen Rubin’s book Better Than Before. It is single handedly one of the best resources for dealing with clients and helping them get results. If someone does well moderating, don’t hate them for it. Help hold them accountable to not let things slip to 30/70 instead of 80/20.

Also, an RD Diana Rodgers, wrote a fantastic piece on Moderation here.

I am not going sit on the fence on moderation. That would be oxymoronic. If moderation works – great. If it doesn’t, don’t want it to work, that just stubborn. Accept who you are and accept that abstinence maybe easier than one little bite.  One last hit…NO!