Everything in moderation – what does it really mean?

by Dr. Mark Sherwood

Everything in moderation – what does that really mean? 

The phrase, “everything in moderation,“ is bantered about freely in a wide variety of situations. But where does this phrase come from? And, what does it REALLY mean?

According to research (our own and that of others), the phrase was originally spoken in the Bible by the apostle Paul. In this case, the context of the phrase had to do with the consumption of meat that was sacrificed to idols. Again, in context, it appears Paul was referring to the consumption of culturally forbidden meat. Some folks in his day considered the consumption of meat acceptable, while others did not.

Whether you believe this is the original source of the phrase or not, it is important to understand this phrase has been used to meet and justify an individual’s own personal belief systems. What I mean by this is that saying “everything in moderation“ could, conceivably, mean any of the following:

I can eat anything that I want in moderation.

I can do anything I want in moderation.

I can exhibit any behavior I want in moderation.

As you can see, by these statements, there are really no boundaries. It all depends on what the person wants. Here’s the problem: if the concept of “everything in moderation” is acceptable, then the following is true: 
Sickness, disease, cheating in relationships, cheating in financial dealings, and even dishonesty in a variety of situations are also acceptable.

I would imagine that at this moment you may be saying, “Drs. Mark and Michele, that is ridiculous. None of those are acceptable in moderation.“ We would actually agree with you. However, if we are brutally honest, and believe our common saying “everything in moderation“ and actually live by it, we are actually saying that all of the aforementioned occurrences are indeed acceptable. I base this on the following rationale: if we eat foods and exhibit behaviors that lead to the development of disease conditions or regrettable actions, aren’t we actually supportive of these negative consequences?

We are faced with this dilemma, do we really agree with the statement “everything in moderation“, or do we not?

It appears to me that we don’t and generally should consider adopting a different statement. The truth is that the majority would never think that any amount of disease, sickness, or inappropriate behavior is OK. Therefore, our expectations must change.

We must understand, that even though we want balance in life, we should realize excellence is possible. We should understand that not everything is permissible. We should grasp the concept that some things, even in moderation, are never good for us.

As we have stated to many of our patients, let’s all strive for and pursue perfection (even though we KNOW that’s not possible), and visit excellence along the way.

We hope this offers a different perspective to an often overused, and misunderstood statement: Everything in moderation. Living a life of optimal wellness requires discipline, awareness, diligence, focus and resolve. Each of us is capable of exhibiting these attributes on a daily basis. It just requires a belief system that gets in line with our potential. Therefore, we must commence our journey with this statement, “believe big and understand that everything is possible.”

Living the wellness life together!


Naturopathic Doctor Mark Sherwood and Michele Sherwood, Doctor of Osteopathy, host retreats with Retreats Unlimited