[Article updated on 19/09/2023]
What if, instead of demonizing the foods that we love to eat so much but which, in excess, can harm our figure, we started to appreciate them in this much-desired moderation?
Before reading on
I’m not an expert in this field, but I am passionate about nutrition and health.
The articles you’ll find on my site are the result of in-depth research that I’d like to share with you. However, I would like to stress that I am not a health professional and that my advice should in no way replace that of a qualified physician. I’m here to guide you, but it’s important that you consult a professional for specific questions or medical concerns. Your well-being is important. So be sure to consult the appropriate experts and take the best possible care of yourself.
Why this battle?
Because there is the dilemma… indeed, in the minds of many people wanting to lose weight, moderation with zero restrictions and zero excess but a fair balance is not obvious. We have heard a lot that to lose weight, you have to restrict yourself, eliminate starchy foods, that is to say bread, pasta and potatoes. Then there was the hunt for fat, bringing out low-fat butters, light cheeses and 0% yogurts. In the past, a lot of dietary advice was based on prohibitions and restrictions, with the promise that the control exercised over our food desires would be rewarded by obtaining the figure of our dreams.
However, it has now been more than a decade since dietitians (at least those of which I am a part) have understood that excessive food control, endless restrictions and prohibitions are doomed to failure. Of course, it remains obvious that this type of very restrictive diet is effective in the short term: the pounds fly off, the scale shows a downward number, and the measurements decrease. But in the medium and long term, the result disappears: through deprivation and denial of pleasure, the desire returns, in the form of being fed up, compulsions and the need to “let go”.
Prohibitions as a value of (in)efficiency
Many people experience this, some subscribe to this type of diet and go “yo-yo”. One might think that by dint of losing and regaining (greater) weight, these people come to the conclusion by themselves that what has not worked for years and tirelessly leads them to gain weight again is ineffective. They should then think about changing tactics and realize that pleasure has reasons that reason ignores, and that it will always end up winning over prohibitions. It would then be wise to move towards learning moderation… Yes but… We see requests such as “You must be very strict with me; Forbid me cheese because I can’t eat just a piece of it; I will throw away everything that tempts me because I am incapable of controlling myself; Ban sugar from my diet because it is my enemy…”.
And indeed, as Saint Augustine said “total abstinence is easier than perfect moderation”. And it gives… illusory results. Then later we hear: “I can’t do it anymore, I don’t understand. However at the beginning I did without it very well but now it’s stronger than me, I can’t resist.” And yes… Because it means forgetting our human nature: behind each prohibition hides a transgression. The more rigid we set limits, the more we want to transgress them…
So, what to do?
In my opinion, it is about building a balance based on slight imbalances, which will allow us to no longer feel the need to transgress. Thus, all these small imbalances will make it possible to avoid a much greater imbalance and to respect the underlying need: pleasure!
Certainly, this does not deliver the promises usually made by miracle diets, and I am not promising you that you will lose five kilos in a week. Of course, you may need more patience before seeing the first results. On the other hand, I guarantee you a reconciliation of common sense with food.
I invite you to “diet” by putting real butter on your toast but spreading it well, to continue to eat chocolate creams for dessert but half as much as before, to still eat carbonara pasta but by reducing cream and combining it with vegetables, to continue going to restaurants but making sure to choose a balanced dish before choosing a good dessert, to have an aperitif with friends while limiting chips. Don’t deprive yourself of anything while being vigilant about everything. There is no point in overeating and being excessive and then depriving yourself, then falling back into excess again.
Some people are frightened by this type of thinking, those who have not tried it and prefer to deprive themselves of everything… If you eat a square or two of chocolate when you want it, but no more, you will not send this desire back into the closet, among the frustrations. And even better, if you allow yourself, according to your own criteria (what, how often), small transgressions and pleasure, then you will no longer put yourself in a discomfort zone.
Let’s stop stigmatizing “what is good” as being harmful to the figure.
And let’s get to know food: losing weight should be done with pleasure, not necessarily with steam or broth. Here are some balanced dishes which it would be a shame to deprive yourself of, but which most people “at diet » avoid: lasagna, confit lamb shank, chili con carne, shepherd’s pie, gratin dauphinois, carrot beef, pot au feu, savory or sweet crepe… Everything will depend on the recipe, the type of fat, the proportions, the unnecessary additions and quantities.
Total abstinence promises what perfect moderation does not promise, and this same abstinence is sometimes easier to implement, since moderation requires certain efforts and awareness. It all starts with taking stock of your dietary intake, highlighting what is causing the problem, then adapting a strategy to provide a gentle response. All changes made must last over time, and must therefore be integrated gently, because no organism is made to undergo sudden changes, especially if they are a source of frustration. So forward, with pleasure.