“Everything in moderation” is a retort that really takes the winds out of our sails, an insidious way of derailing lasting changes. Moderation is a trap. Here’s how it works: I hear this or that is bad for me, I know it is. But, “moderation in everything.”

It’s easy to point to someone else who does “this” or consumes “that” way more than I do, making my behavior moderate. We can always find someone else who is worse off, making all of us moderate.

The food industry is skilled at playing on moderation by offering endless “healthier” substitutes. Can’t eat pizza? There’s a solution! If it’s round and flat and has a few toppings (anything can be a topping these days) then it’s a pizza! As a kid, the milk I drank was pretty much whole milk, then we got 2 percent, 1 percent and then skim. Now there’s soy milk, rice-milk, almond-milk and hemp-milk. Maybe we should just cut to the chase and have corn-milk. Do we really need any of these milk-ish drinks? Do we really need milk?

We’ve been duped by the quiet evolution taking place at our grocery stores and restaurants. Designer foods and drinks now crowd the aisles and convenience stores. Many of us have grown up on filler foods that make us ill and heavy. The change has been slow. We don’t feel it, we don’t see it. And it tastes so good and it’s so convenient.

Tobacco is another industry evolving to survive, in this case, to keep nicotine in our blood, literally. They duped our parents by introducing “lite” and “menthol” cigarettes. Our parents loved these moderate cigarettes so much that they smoked more and more of them. These days, it’s vaping. Vaping is cool, isn’t it? It’s not really smoking is it? But how could it be as bad as cigarettes, right? History repeats with the help of the moderation trap. It allows us to be just a little bad: good for the industry, not for us.

Illness-promoting behaviors hurt us regardless of how we paint them. Jumping without a parachute (even in moderation) is not likely to end well. Sweet drinks and processed foods have dominated our palate for the past few decades, coinciding with the obesity epidemic.

The choice not to have any of these, even in moderation, is ours to make.

Steve Heuer

City of Verona

Owner of Mind Body Plate LLC