To excess or not to excess?

by Food Hound on April 26, 2011

in Uncategorized

Excess: friend or foe?

I’ve been reading “French Women For All Seasons” by Mireille Guiliano, author of “French Women Don’t Get Fat.” And of course, it’s all about how French women enjoy the finer things of life, but in moderation, which basically means they enjoy a truffle with their wine without ending up on The Biggest Loser or Girls Gone Wild.
And let’s talk about every dietitian’s eating mantra, “Everything in Moderation.” Kind of the same concept. One of the classic illustrations of this is the theory that the first three bites of anything taste the best, so there’s no need to finish it.

But… what if I want to finish it?
Is excess always bad?
I’ve just spent two fabulous weekends with my each of my two best friends. They are Thelma to my Louise. Champagne to my glass. You get the picture. Do you think I had three bites of my Peanut Butter Cup Blizzard while we curled up in our PJs to watch “An American in Paris?” Nope. Cleaned the cup. Kind of wanted another one. Same thing for my luscious piece of key lime pie. It was basically food porn, and I’m not even a little ashamed.

What about a post-race breakfast at Fountain City Diner with my CrossFit gang? I had a date with my French Apple Turnover Pancake, and it got a little dirty. There was apple butter in my hair and a satisfied smile on my face. So maybe I didn’t finish it because I’m not Kobayashi, but the three-bite rule was nowhere to be found.
And the other night when the Booze Hound and I opened a particularly lovely bottle of Bordeaux we smuggled back from France and ended up finishing the whole thing while watching one of the amazing Kate and Wills Wedding Specials? The last sip tasted as awesome as the first. And even though I think the BH imbibed to make the show slightly more tolerable, I think he would agree that the bottle was a winner.
I’m here to say that sometimes excess is great. Sometimes you need it. Sometimes it’s worth it. Sure, you may need to log a little more time at the gym here and there to support it, but what would life be like if we couldn’t indulge once in a while? Sure, maybe you’re satisfied with one bite of fudge. There are times when I am. But there are times when I’m not, and I’m ok with that.
Of course, there are other kinds of excess. This weekend I plan to spend all 6 gorgeous hours of Royal Wedding coverage plopped on my couch. Is that excessive? Um, yes. Could I be watching something much more cerebral like CNN? Yes. But will I feel even a little bit bad after indulging in something that makes me supremely happy for six hours? Nope.

Far be it from me to disagree with the French way of life. I totally admit I subscribe to the French concept of small doses of richness to live a fabulously satisfying food life. And 99% of the time it works for me. But then there’s that little part of me that wants to indulge in excess that 1% of the time. Maybe I want to eat the whole piece of pie. Maybe not. But let’s get rid of feeling guilty about it.
I’m realistic enough to know I can’t do it all the time. And I log plenty of blood, sweat and tears at the gym to earn it… although secretly I’m also a little addicted to CrossFit so it’s kind of like a conflict of interest to love both pain and pleasure πŸ™‚ But I’m here to admit that I’m a dietitian who totally supports occasional excess. I just hope that when you indulge in excess, it’s for

something you LOVE. Something that makes you wake up the next day with a warm fuzzy feeling (think honeymoon) and not regret (think hangover).
After all, everything in moderation… even excess πŸ™‚

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Nutmeg Nanny April 26, 2011 at 3:16 am

My problem is always wanting to finish it…and maybe have another slice.


Rebecca from Chow and Chatter April 26, 2011 at 3:41 am

your funny so folks know your a dietitian πŸ™‚


Foodness Gracious April 26, 2011 at 4:54 am

You can’t take it with you, right?


Marie April 26, 2011 at 6:59 am

I don’t think I could ever stick to a three bite rule. That’s probably why I look the way I do. oh well. I’m with you, I’m going to be lolling on the sofa drinking in all the Royal Wedding festivities on Friday as well, and why not! xxoo


Joanne April 26, 2011 at 10:42 am

Love this post! I’ve really been struggling with this whole moderation business lately. As it turns out I’m a very all-or-nothing kind of person…but I’m working on it because moderation is much more rational. Even excess in moderation, like you said!

I find this fascination with the royal wedding to be so funny. I mean, I’m totally sucked in by it also. But I really find it inexplicable as to why. My mom spent our entire car ride back from Boston last week talking about her extreme love of Princess Diana…but she’s borderline obsessed.


Parsley Sage April 26, 2011 at 1:12 pm

Heh. I’m the over-eating queen. Again, not all the time. But when something tastes damn good, you can bet your bunky I’m pushing for that lovely post-meal, slightly nauseated, belt-loosening food coma. In fact, I’ve already started constructing my Royal Wedding menu…copious amounts of eating. Great post πŸ™‚


The Modern Gal April 26, 2011 at 1:41 pm

I have a feeling that the French can get things in smaller doses than we Americans can. I agree, excess in moderation is good. Of course, I can find an excuse for any kind of excess I want — that’s my problem πŸ™‚


Xinmei @ Pudding Pie Lane April 26, 2011 at 4:47 pm

Food porn is nothing to be ashamed about! πŸ™‚ And you know, excess food…can be burned off with excess exercise…right?


Jess April 26, 2011 at 9:17 pm

There are times when I absent-mindedly down an entire box of store bought cookies and think to myself by the end of it, “This belly ache is so not worth it.” I can’t even say that I thought the product tasted particularly good.

But then there are times when I pile my plate high with flourless chocolate cake, top it with a hefty glug of banana liqueur, and quite literally lick the plate clean (I may or may not be directly referencing my dessert experience last night…), and you couldn’t wipe the grin off my face if you were to try.

There’s no point in moderation if you feel deprived, just as there’s no point in excess if you can’t savor it. If you can, it’s all worth it.


Mary April 27, 2011 at 3:52 am

I always knew I liked you :-). I really enjoyed your post today. I hope you have a great evening. Blessings…Mary


Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen April 27, 2011 at 11:09 am

Everything in moderation is a very difficult concept to carry out on a daily basis for me. Personally I had rather be in France where they serve small portions and I can clean my plate without feeling guilty. So the solution is we all move to France. LOL


Design Wine and Dine April 27, 2011 at 12:49 pm

I run so I can eat. I like the “small plate” thing too…but only becasue I want to eat off of like 30 small plates. Moderation…right??

OK, I need to see when the Royal Wedding starts. I am hosting Happy Hour here on Friday evening and if it’s on then…you better believe I am making people get dressed up! XO


Rita April 27, 2011 at 2:45 pm

What a fabulous post! Love your line… Sometimes you need it. Sometimes it’s worth it.
I read those 2 books and made resolutions and real life came around and I kind of forgot.
Happy to hear I’m not the only one following Will and Kate. Enjoy what makes you happy; we don’t know what’s around the corner.


girlichef April 27, 2011 at 11:39 pm

I could not agree more! Deprivation only makes me binge, so… everything in moderation for sure. Fun post πŸ˜€


beyond the peel April 28, 2011 at 3:38 pm

I absolutely agree. Especially with the wine thing, it’s my weakness and everyone has one. If you know your weakness it’s much easier to manage. There are somethings that were created just for sheer pleasure!


Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic April 29, 2011 at 2:54 pm

Great post and I agree! I’m not ashamed of cleaning up dessert, as in almost licking the plate clean. So yeah, everything in moderation, even excess!


kellypea April 29, 2011 at 4:16 pm

I loved this and completely agree with you. When I over do the indulgent, my physical discomfort helps remind me not to be such a glutton the next time (dang those carnitas!) I’ve been a slacker on the exercise lately though, so I’m beginning to look like a dumpling. meatball? Oh, and I have been up since 1am watching wedding coverage…mostly on CNN πŸ™‚


Chris May 1, 2011 at 4:02 pm

I am with you! I’d rather do extra push ups or 15 minutes extra on the punching bag.


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