Have you been at the receiving end of the advice (mostly related to food): “Everything is OK in moderation.” Join me and my colleague Shelley Hurguy as we discuss where this works and where this doesn’t!


Audio Transcription:

Welcome to functional nutrition and learning for kids. I’m your host Weiss and this is a podcast where we explore nutrition and its impact on the brain and learning strategies or what I would like to call functional learning, all in a framework of assuming competence and respect.

Today’s guest and episode host is Shelly her guy. Shelly is my colleague and a functional nutrition and lifestyle practitioner. She’s a certified clinical nutritionist and a certified Holistic Health Coach. She’s also a registered nurse with a master’s degree in nursing and his practice anesthesia as a crna for over 20 years.As a functional nutritionist, Shelley partners with her clients to search for the underlying roots of their symptoms, while developing an individualized dietary and lifestyle modification program geared towards their unique body state of mind and resources.

Shelly is here today to question me, and actually to chat with me on the myth of moderation which is today’s topic. But in truth, this is more of a discussion I’m keen to hear Shelley’s views as well.

Welcome Shelley. Hi. So I’m I’m happy to be here talking with Dr. VIII’s thought athey. She’s a chemist, a functional nutrition educator and the founder of Project philistia, a functional nutrition practice for children with different needs.

She’s a TEDx, speaker, researcher and educator with a mission to reframe and redefine health and optimal function for children with disabilities. Her perspective is shaped by her son said who’s now 12 and non speaking with multiple disabilities, including Down syndrome and autism, with a sharp wit and a strong drive, by use believes that sound nutrition and an equal education are the birthright of every child. And this is a point that she brings.

She brings up in her TED Talk. So your topic is the myth of moderation. And I’m excited about this one. But I want to kind of dive in so that I understand what do you mean, by moderation?

What are you talking about when you say moderation, I am going to start with what moderation does apply to and where I don’t think that it is a myth. For example, the amount of food that you eat, the quantity of food that you eat, is there’s definitely moderation is very important. And we all know this, eat too much too bad, eat too little, overland get into the realm of fasting.

Now, I mean, there’s some gray areas there. But overall, eating too little isn’t such a great idea. Exercise is a great situation where you apply moderation. Now that the idea of moderation is different for each person. So when when I say when you say intense exercise that may be different for you and me. However, in a broad perspective, it still is something that we need to consider moderation in.

Recreation is a big thing. We’re so big on stress reducing strategies these days, and we’re so big on sleep and relaxation, that I think this is a big area where we can really slip into the other end of moderation where there’s just too much sleep. I don’t think there’s that much opportunity for women like us, but it can happen for me at least for me, it can happen I have been known to sleep in excess at times. But so these are definitely areas where moderation is a big thing, where we listen to this phrase a lot where I listen to whenever I talk about food, you always hear this homily, everything in moderation, right? And what are people usually talking about?They’re often talking about inflammatory foods, but they’re usually talking about what you’re eating.

Everything is okay in moderation. And I think that this becomes a very tricky concept to work with these days. And it just sometimes not true because some foods that we had taken for granted earlier and they were fine foods for a very long time are now inflammatory in nature to a majority of the population. And so foods that are specifically inflammatory to you are not okay in moderation, they’re generally not okay at all if your purpose is to heal your gut, right? Because everything we’re looking at everything in the context of healing the lining of your intestines, which is what everything else in your body depends on everything in your body is downstream of your gut of your interest and so if your digestion so most everything, and therefore everything is not okay in moderation. And the last point I want to make in this context is that we all know poison isn’t okay in moderation. So when I say something inflammatory is not okay.

In moderation. It seems like it’s common sense. Seems like yeah, of course, something that’s bad for me is not okay, I wouldn’t take a little bit of poison. But if you think of something like ibuprofen, which is an acid and which is known to damage the gut lining, if you had like a horrible headache, where it couldn’t move, and you wouldn’t think about popping a pill I wouldn’t I be okay, I mean, once in a while, it’s fine and so on. But this logic unfortunately, doesn’t always apply to foods that disturb the gut lining, and probably even to environmental factors, especially if you’re in a situation that requires deep healing.

Which is the case when there’s a lot of neuro inflammatory conditions that can coexist with autism and many other developmental disabilities. That is very clear, I absolutely understand what you’re meaning when you say the moderation. Now, what I want to know is Does that mean that we have to go to the other extreme and become so restrictive, right? There’s a spectrum between complete restriction and utter carte blanche freedom, right? If moderation isn’t going to be good for most of us, where does that leave us in an extreme state and an extreme diet? I know that’s such a hard line to, to walk. So what’s the opposite of moderation, right? So is the opposite opposite of moderation is generally considered an extreme diet.

I think I was thinking about that today. And I have, I feel like I have the perfect word for that the opposite of moderation is, is commitment, short term, intense commitment to a goal, you are trying to win the Olympics or like, if you’re trying to win a gold medal, you’re not going to be you’re not going to exercise moderation and practicing swimming, right. So if that’s what you’re doing, so then you’re going to go all the way.

I mean, if you’re not going to go all the way all your life 24 hours a day, that would probably break you down. But when you are in a state where you are actively trying to heal your gut lining for a certain period of time, and commitment to a diet that is low, and not low, I’m sorry, low is still in the realm of moderation that is devoid of inflammatory foods, which are primarily for most people, gluten, dairy and refined sugar at the least. And sometimes eggs and other foods that people can be sensitive to. So commitment for a short term, an intense, focused commitment for a short term that can be three to six months, sometimes a year. Sometimes it can be longer than that, because when you go off that situation, you go back into neuroinflammation.And that’s the case for my son.

Some would call this an extreme diet, but it he’s just basically on an anti inflammatory diet that’s free of gluten and dairy. And when those come back into his life, he goes into an extremely emotionally disregulated state and his function, I mean, he’s just not really functioning very well at all. So that’s a long term commitment for him so that he can maintain his quality of life. For other people, it may be a much shorter time that is needed to to get into digestive equilibrium. Absolutely, it definitely makes sense to me, and it’s one of the facets of my practice that I really enjoy is because that commitment is going to lead to inflammation, right? A lot of times, you’ve already found out how gluten and dairy affects it. So you have inflammation. But for a lot of people, they don’t know what they don’t know, they don’t know what foods affect them adversely, and which are fine.

When someone has some symptoms and they come to you for help. It’s one of the first things we do is to eliminate moderation giving the body a time to calm down. And then one of the most important aspects of that is the reintroduction of each food, you know, systematically so that you can test to see, are you reacting to this food? Or are you not right? So moderation comes in again, sometimes here, because sometimes what we learn is so instance case, he can’t tolerate gluten and dairy, no amount of it, right. But for myself, for instance, I know that rice doesn’t work very well for me, but that I can handle some, right. So when I retest it, I can think, wow, that doesn’t bother me at all. I’m free to eat as much rice as I want or to eat rice in moderation. And maybe I have it for three days in a row. And there it is there the symptom. So in that case, we’ve come full circle, again to moderation once you’ve had some more information.

Do you agree? I absolutely agree. And I think the point that you’re also making is like you don’t have that information until you make the commitment, right? Because there’s so much noise in your body that unless you actually take a clean break. Sometimes that information isn’t available for you. So like people will say that i i gluten every day and I don’t notice anything, then you just take it off for three weeks and then you will gluten again and you have the worst stomach pain, or you’ve just not noticed your symptoms come and so you do need that that period of intense commitment to actually get get access to the information.

You hear people talk a lot about this 8020 rule, right? Oh, I’ve just I’m gonna stay on the straight and narrow, I’m going to stay healthy. If 80% of the time I eat well and 20% of the time I go off, you know, whatever that is. What would you say to that cohort? Well, that’s definitely falls squarely into the moderation idea and it does nothing for you. So you’re taking 80 steps forward and you’re probably not just taking 20steps backward, you know, I mean, like inflammatory steps backward are probably double or triple, maybe you’re taking 100 steps backward, maybe you’re like 10 times worse than you started. And honestly, we have no idea. So if you still have symptoms, and we’re we’re really talking about people with inflammatory symptoms with joint pain with with neuro inflammatory symptoms with inability to focus, we’re not you don’t have to do it if you’re feeling totally fine. But I’m at 20 words great for you, that you will never know. So it’s very much in the realm of Muddy Waters, you will always be second guessing it’s not scientific, unless you eliminate a variable completely unless you control a variable completely, you’re never going to know the effect of that variable.

The only the worst thing to happen from this situation is twofold. One is that you don’t find a way out of your symptoms. And the other one is that you just don’t have good information coming from this, right, I think, and what you’re saying is, it’s different for people with symptoms, right? Who actually need the anti inflammatory diet and need the information to find out how to go on and live their best life, versus somebody that doesn’t have any symptoms, and they’re just cruising along with their 8020 rule. But you know, even those people, like you said, sometimes you don’t know what’s plaguing you, right, you don’t know how bad you can feel or how bad you are feeling until you actually do a program with anti inflammatory foods.And that’s what’s so exciting about it is that sometimes people, maybe they just wanted to lose weight, they don’t have any symptoms that you know, milk doesn’t bother them theory doesn’t, you know, doesn’t bother them.

Once they find out that they go off inflammatory foods to lose weight, which absolutely makes sense. And then they find out Oh, my God, I have so much more energy. And I was going to ask you, if you would mind, talking about the differences between sensitivity allergies and intolerances. Mainly because when we are working with something soft, like gluten, or dairy or sugar, we’re not rich sugar, maybe none of the above. But we’re not really talking about an allergy where somebody breaks out into hives, or has an anaphylactic reaction, right? We’re talking about something way more subtle yet, the principle of what you just said, is that it doesn’t matter how much it is, you’re still making a problem in your body. Right, right. And that goes for these reactions that are considered allergic reactions.

Those are reactions that actually cause an immune response. Like the peanut allergy, right, those symptoms Come on immediately. It can be teasing, or the throat closing or a rash, or watery eyes. But it’s an immediate immune response. When you’re talking about an intolerance, talking about a response that actually is not an immune response. But it’s the body reacting to certain food components.

Lactose is an example or histamine, you’re not allergic to lactose, necessarily, or to histamine. But you may lack an enzyme or a nutrient that would act as a cofactor in the activity of breaking down those certain components. So that is a reaction and it can cause a symptom, but it is not an allergy. And in these people, sometimes you’ll find people that have for instance, an intolerance to lactose,sometimes they can eat a little bit, and they aren’t going to have an issue, right. But if they eat more and more, they it is additive, and then they can react. So that just depends on the person. And again, you know, this is what we do this is the work we do is we help people clear the muddy waters and find out exactly what’s going on in their body and how specific foods affected them to that point. So this is a situation where moderation actually might apply. So if you are working in a situation where you have an intolerance, correct, Did I get that right and intolerance?

That’s right. And then you may be a candidate for for moderation, but it’s also likely that if you are in that intolerance realm, that your symptoms aren’t tremendous that the maximum you have some bloating or discomfort that’s immediate and then it’s going away. Right, right. But an example on the other extreme is histamine. You know, there are people that actually have histamine intolerances, and that can vary from person to person.

A lot of people feel like the allergy to seafood is oftentimes not even a true allergy to seafood, but is an intolerance to the histamine because shellfish in particular, really has a lot of histamine produces a lot of that flesh produces a lot of his so in that extreme, someone can have a very scary and profound reaction that looks like an allergic reaction, but can be just from excess of histamine. So it really does.

You know,Work the spectrum there and the intolerances. But so is that a situation where somebody could have like a teeny amount of shellfish and be okay, do you think or not? It depends on the person, right? If it’s a true allergy, they couldn’t have a tiny bit. But if it’s somebody that is just dealing with histamine, you know, they describe a histamine intolerance situation as like a bucket. Right? So you’re pouring water into a bucket.And there’s no problem, you continue pouring you content, sometimes you, you know, pour some out, but it’s all fine, you continue pouring. Once you’ve reached the top of that bucket, and you continue to pour water into it.

Now you’re spilling all over the place. And that’s kind of the situation with histamine. So yeah, for some people, they can eat these histamine, high histamine foods for a while. And once they’ve reached that threshold, then it will spill over and they’ll have a reaction.So again, probably falls in somewhat of a realm of moderation where people can possibly, depending on their individual situation, if it’s not an allergy, be somewhat moderate with their histamine. And as long as they know where the bucket fills up, then they can they can modulate that intake of histamine a little bit and be okay with small amounts. Yep, absolutely. And most people that are dealing with a histamine intolerance, do understand low histamine foods, moderate histamine foods and higher histamine foods. So yeah, they have to learn they have to learn about that and learn about their body and put those two things together. So that it takes a while. But yeah, most people who are dealing with that do know their, their boundaries, their limits, yeah. And to to, to continue on with the last, the last portion of this is what we were talking about, when we say food sensitivities, these are caused, these are relaxed, reactions that are delayed, so they can be delayed by hours or even days, right. But they are still symptoms caused by food, usually, it’s caused by an imbalance in the gastrointestinal system, that then in turn affects the immune system. So you are eliciting an immune response. But it’s more of an indirect, right, it’s not a direct reaction from the immune system. It’s a reaction from the GI system, which triggers the immune system. And you’ll hear people talk about leaky gut, that’s a good example of that.

Some people are, you know, they have food sensitivities to cow’s milk, or eggs. Gluten is another common one.But the difference here is that very often when people heal their gut,things change for them. And then they are able to tolerate some foods that they hadn’t been in, in the past, you know, within a case for commitment in either a short term or a long term as needed. But this is possibly what we were talking about in the beginning where we’re moderation doesn’t really work, because in order to heal the cut, you have to remove the substance that is causing the inflammation in the first place. And it’s a vicious cycle. So you have to like step into that.

If you’re interested in you know, giving yourself a fair trial for a leaky gut, or for any other downstream inflammatory issue, be that neuro inflammation or so on, you do have to step into some sort of a defined time of commitment. It captures it, right? I mean, you’ve got to be committed to making the changes. You’ve got to be committed to your help. But thank you so much for coming to chat with me, Shelley.

Today, I really appreciated all your ideas. And you know, just put me in the right place with the questions. Thank you. You’re welcome. I enjoyed it very much. That was an intense discussion about moderation. It’s worth choose and when it doesn’t work. Thanks for joining us here today. If you like this podcast, I’d be so grateful if you would go to iTunes and leave me a review. Also, if you could share this podcast with a few of your friends that might be interested in learning about nutrition and learning strategies for the kids. That would be super awesome as well. I can’t wait to join you again next week next Thursday. But before that credits for today’s music, people go to my three coach my nine year old daughter, and today’s episode, of course was hosted by me Bye. See you next week. Bye.