Everywhere I turn in my community there is a spot to get ice cream or frozen custard. Chain restaurants and fast food places line most of the roads. Billboards advertise the latest and largest Krispy Kreme donut. Meals everywhere are three times the size we should actually be eating in one sitting. My daughter gets served fried mozzarella sticks and french fries for lunch at school as a meal. To go drinks no longer fit into car cup holders. Do people even buy regular-sized candy bars still?

I could go on and on about the societal set-up for failure here, as it pertains to overeating, but this food madness has been going on for a long time. It is nothing new. We created it from our consumerism.

What I find myself even more concerned about than the junk food party that is modern-day eating, is the incessant claim that “moderation is the key.”

Did any of the above societal pictures of reality sound moderate? Does it sound like society has any clue what moderation is? I have been given this “moderation is the key” line by too many people to count. Some of them struggled with weight themselves and still gave out advice about moderation. How do they know this?

The problem with the term “moderation” is that it is a relative term. My moderation is not your moderation. Somedays my version is not eating half of a cake, but maybe just two pieces instead. For some, moderation is getting the twelve-count nuggets instead of the twenty. Or it may be eating fried foods only in the mornings or eating half of the pizza instead of the whole thing.

For others, moderation is the banana they allow in their smoothie, the two ounces of potatoes they allow at dinner, or the apple they eat in spite of its sugars.

So whose moderation is key? Mine when I am trying not to eat the whole pizza or the CrossFitter who allows the banana or the apple?

So many of us have toxic relationships with food. This means that we eat for a ton of other reasons besides nourishment. We base our food choices on our emotions. Many have developed full blown food addictions to cope with life. And the food and marketing industries know to prey on us because of it. They do not leave us much hope for moderation.

Moderation is not the key because no one knows what it is or what it means.

Trying to follow the concept of moderation is not the way to lose weight either. Usually when one is trying to lose a large amount of weight, it is due to an unhealthy or even toxic relationship with food. When something becomes unhealthy and toxic, abstinence and separation, at least until health can be attained, is the way to break free from it. Moderation is a tease in these cases. I have never once lost weight from “moderation.”

I tried to eat “moderately” with a pizza celebration recently – New York style, my favorite. One pizza night turned into leftover pizza the next day, soda cravings, Mexican food, and some brownies. When you have had and/or have a toxic relationship with food, moderation is a joke. It is self-sabotage and ultimate derailment. My moderation turned into relapse.

The food sold today is not nutrient-dense and is made to make us want more of it. Once we get these refined sugars and carbs in our systems, we crave them. It is science. Therefore, we are striving for the concept of moderation when the very foods we are attempting to moderate are addictive in nature and leave us wanting more. These foods are not satiating, yet we keep using them to try to satisfy us.

When someone can define moderation that makes sense for us all, I may try to use it to turn a door. But until then, I am oh so tired of this key everyone seems to have found with no actual open doors to show for it. The saying is not helpful to those who struggle with a poor relationship with food. With over a third of Americans obese now, I would say that that saying is not helpful for at least over a third of us.

Learn about your relationship with food. Find out how you use it cope or distract or numb. Sit with the acceptance of possibly not having the answer. Be willing to go and search for it. That is the real key that opens doors.