According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, between 2014-2015 22,700 Australians underwent weight-loss surgery.
63% of Australians over the age of 18 were recorded as being either overweight or obese (that's more than half of the adult population).
If you're a numbers person, that's 11.2 million people.
4.9 million of those people were considered obese.
1 in 4 children were recorded as being overweight and obese, with just over half meeting the daily requirements for fruit and only 5% of children meeting the daily requirements for vegetables.
Being overweight or obese increases a person's risk for developing long-term health conditions such as Heart Disease, Type 2 Diabetes and High Blood Pressure; and autopsies conducted on children as young as 10 found the early stages of cardiovascular disease to already be present.
Let that sink in for a moment...
Our children already have the beginnings of Heart Disease.
So what does the saying 'everything in moderation' have to do with Hans Christian Anderson's childhood tale The Emperor's New Clothes?
Well, we all know the emperor discovered his beautiful new clothes did not exist and I'm here to tell you, that lovely myth we've all heard a thousand times in relation to cakes, biscuits, sweets, chips and ice cream known as 'everything in moderation' is as non-existent as the emperor's clothes.
(Ok, fine, it exists for like 5 people that everyone hates. ;-))
Let me explain why:
We all know the processed foods we consume are designed to be highly addictive, so that we keep coming back for more. The manufacturers don't want us to consume the recommended serving size, they're literally banking on our inability to consume their product in moderation.
In a time when obesity rates are at an all time high, when it is obvious that most humans are completely unable to say no to that second handful of chips, that second piece of cake.
Have you ever tried to have one handful of popcorn at the movies?..
Have you ever managed to consume only the recommended serving amount contained within a tub of ice cream?
When it comes to the refined sugars, salts and fats found in processed and packaged foods, humans have proven themselves pretty terrible moderators.
In Dr Doug Lisle's insightful book The Pleasure Trap we learn how humans are hardwired to seek out high caloric density foods, how we are designed to feast on foods that contain a the highest amount of calories/energy to sustain us through times of famine, or through times when we required large amounts of energy, fleeing bears for example.
Our bodies are super smart and designed for survival, however, they're not designed for the abundance of rich, calorie dense foods that we have at our fingertips post World War 2. As natural herbivores, our bodies are perfectly designed, from our teeth and fingers, to our intestines, for picking berries and grinding and digesting nuts, seeds and other plant foods. The foods we would have eaten in nature during these times, were nutrient dense, whole, plant foods. We might have eaten a couple of handfuls of nuts and seeds, fruits and whole grains that would have been fairly low in calories, with a low glycaemic index and as a result, the energy would have released gradually and sustained our bodies for a longer period of time before we felt the need to seek more.
We definitely weren't eating a completely nutrient bereft Quarter Pounder followed by a McFlurry back in the ye oldie days, these foods give our bodies a huge spike in insulin and over a days worth of calories from refined sugars and saturated fats. Unfortunately these foods result in us crashing shortly after consuming them and because they are void of nutrients our bodies, being the intelligent biocomputers that they are, chase the nutrients missing that are necessary for our survival, forcing us to eat more and more in hopes that we'll make a better, more nutrient rich choice at the next meal or snack. Which we rarely do.
The main issue, outside of these foods being nutrient dead zones, is that they are addictive. We can't eat these foods in moderation just like we can't do Heroin in moderation, or smoke a few cigarettes in moderation. Sure, a small handful of people may try a cigarette or even hard drugs and everything is cool bananas (don't try it for yourself!), but we all know those stories are few and far between and most of us wouldn't buy our loved ones some heroin on the way home from footy training on the off chance they might be one of the lucky ones who has a wicked AF time and can quit the next day.
It sounds ridiculous doesn't it?
Because it is ridiculous!
As if we would give our kids something as dangerous and addictive as heroin on the way home from footy training.
But the thing is, although drug induced deaths took the lives of 1,808 Australians in 2016, at the same time, there were 19,077 deaths from heart disease, 4,770 people died from diabetes and 10, 869 people died from stroke, thats almost 35,000 deaths caused largely by a diet high in processed saturated fats and sugars, compared to 1,808 from hard drugs...
As previously mentioned, almost 2000 people died in 2016 from hard drugs and we all know without a doubt to not do even a small amount of hard drugs, we get it. Hard drugs are bad. Hard drugs took almost 2000 lives in 2016 and yet, that same year, almost 35,000 people were killed as a result of diet and lifestyle diseases such as Heart Disease, Stroke and Type 2 diabetes, also known as: eating too much processed foods high in saturated fats and sugars and yet we continue to heed the advice 'moderation'.
Everyone knows heart disease, type 2 diabetes and stroke are largely caused by an overconsumption of foods high in processed saturated fats and sugars typically resulting in obesity, all the while our doctors, family and friends continue to spout 'Oh love, just have the cake, everything in moderation is my motto!'
We can all agree without hesitation that hard drugs are addictive, dangerous and should be avoided and yet, we turn a blind eye to the very real figures telling us that our diets are killing us into the tens of thousands every single year.
But it's not our fault.
It's not a lack of will power.
These foods are designed to target the pleasure centres in our brains, to give us a dopamine hit that inevitably has us coming back for more, merely one of the the reasons these foods leave us in a vicious cycle of dangerous overeating.
So what is the standard advice for anyone addicted to a substance such as alcohol and tobacco?
Is it, 'moderation'?
We tell people addicted to alcohol, drugs and cigarettes to have NONE of the thing that they are addicted to, we don't tell them to have it occasionally, we don't tell them to have it only on weekends, we tell them to STOP having it.
I'm oversimplifying a complicated topic here however, the point remains, the percentage of adults who are obese rises with age, adults don't become more competent at regulating their consumption of high fat/high sugar foods with age.
They don't get better at 'moderation'. The myth of 'moderation' continues to fail them and yet we regurgitate this myth over and over, all the while watching as our population grows more and more overweight and the instances of chronic lifestyle diseases increase year after year.
'Moderation' simply doesn't work when it comes to processed foods.
Because they're highly addictive foods that are high in salt, sugars and fats that alter our gut microbiome, increasing the bad bacteria within our guts (disease creating) and depleting the good bacteria (disease fighting), making us crave more and more of these foods and resulting in an increased risk of developing long term, chronic disease.
Dr Michael Klaper said something along the lines of 'Would you like a moderate amount of heart disease? A moderate amputation from your Type 2 Diabetes? Would a moderate Stroke be ok? Of course not.'
So what does a life without moderation look like?
It looks like a low fat, whole foods, plant-based diet. It looks like potatoes, like oil-free chips, like wholegrain pasta. It looks like cheese-free pizza, like banana-nice-cream, like warm oats with cinnamon, raisins and diced apple. It looks like a lean, fit, healthy and disease free body with an abundance of energy found in whole plant foods.
It looks like thriving, healthy communities, energetic parents, fit and strong kids. It looks like lower spending on healthcare, less sick days, happier workplaces and families. It looks like real health, from the inside out.
Abstinence sounds hard right?
So start where you're at.
What can you eliminate today?
What can you add into your diet this week?
Where can you choose differently?
Take it at your own pace.
Don't become another statistic of the moderation myth. You don't have to.
I promise you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
It'll be so worth it.
**** If you'd like a little inspiration, check out my podcast: When Life Gives You Lemons, GO**** VEGAN! over at iTunes and Stitcher Apps to hear incredible stories of hope from people who have smashed the moderation myth and taken control of their health to overcome chronic diseases such as Heart Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Type 2 Diabetes, and so many more... Also here from experts in the field of nutrition such as incredible doctors, psychologists, nutritionists, naturopaths and more who are pioneering plant based medicine and wellness for future generations.