The new moderation

So, New Year, New You – time to give up booze, start a new exercise regime, cut out the chocolate and decide 2013 is the year you will finally get fit, yes?

Actually, maybe not. I’m not a big fan of banning things, or cutting out what you enjoy completely (except tobacco – there’s really nothing good about tobacco). Deciding to quit alcohol for January (the science-free ‘detox’ so beloved of the media) makes what can be a miserable month just that bit less cheerful, and runs the risk of keeping alcohol so much in your mind that you can’t wait for that first glass (or five) when the self-imposed ban is up. And I’m aware of that ‘hockey stick’ curve on the mortality graph, where teetotallers are just that bit more likely to die early than those people who enjoy light or moderate drinking.

Same with chocolate, or anything you really enjoy. Winter is a time for warming hot casseroles, steamed puddings and hot chocolate – just not every day.

I was intrigued by a story on Best Health this week, which suggests that moderation may apply to your weight, as well. I’m always a bit cautious about stories linking length of life with just one factor, as there’s so much chance of missing another important factor (confounding). However, something feels ‘right’ about this story, which suggests that being a little overweight may actually protect you from an early grave, rather than consigning you to one. It’s the extremes, whether being too thin or obese, that seem to do the damage.

So I’m setting myself some decidedly modest health goals this month. I’m planning to drink no more than a glass of wine  a day, two or three days a week. I’ll get out and about for a walk or a bike ride when the weather allows, enjoying the shreds of sunshine that peek through the clouds. And I’ll aim to eat more vegetables than I do any other type of food. Cheers, and have a Happy New Year!

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