When less is more

I’ve gone back to thinking about food and nutrition and how these things are spoken of in the public sphere. There was an article in the paper about a school that has pizza days, but limits students to one slice each. There’s also a book coming out whose author is a YouTuber and medical professional. It’s called The Bad Food Bible, and it talks about commonly vilified foods, as well as when and how to eat them.

Both of these brought to mind a sort of epiphany I’d had awhile back. I’m sure I’ve more or less shared the broad strokes of it, but I’d like to address its specifics. Most prescriptive dietary advice talks about what to reduce or eliminate: gluten, animal protein, sugar, fat, salt. Only very rarely does such advice focus on the positive – what foods should you increase, or have virtually limitless amounts of. Like vegetables.

I think such an additive approach could have a twofold effect. To begin with, it’s always more encouraging to be told what you can do rather than what you can’t. Especially in light of the human tendency to crave what is prohibited. I found on our most recent budgetary diet that I strongly craved certain junk foods, at least in part because their cost fell outside the budget. This isn’t to say that an additive approach could eliminate cravings, but it might make cravings more manageable.

The other effect regards the finite capacity for food that human bodies have. You can only fit so much at one time. Stands to reason. So if you begin by choosing from foods you can have more of, and if you plan your plate around such foods, you’ll fill up on them. That leaves less – or zero – room for less desirable foods. Again, this probably wouldn’t solve everything, but it continues to accentuate the positive.

There’s also much made of touting moderation. Again, I feel that beginning with an additive attitude is a better place to start. Because moderation is great, but there are so many things in the world. Trying to pick and choose each thing, and remain moderate about them, is a bit like trying to juggle an infinite number of plates. I would opt to build in moderation by maxing out good things, and only adding in one or two things that then present themselves as truly desirable. Like when you’re stuffed to the gills, but simply cannot resist that wafer thin mint.

Ultimately the best thing you can do when it comes to eating more healthfully is be kind to yourself. Making one small change that lasts is miles better than never changing. And small changes are like the pebbles that fall before an avalanche. As each stone dislodges to tumble down the slope, it eats into the structure of a lifetime of bad habits until it cannot help but crumble. Have faith in your ability to judge goodness for yourself, and take in all food-related ‘news’ with a healthsome, moderate grain of salt.