Healthy Living, Nutrition Tips, Nutrition Tips, Quick Tips

Are You An Abstainer Or Moderator?

This post is going to be kind of a buzz kill right before Labor Day Weekend but whatever it’s been on my mind and I wanted to share.

A few weeks ago I was listening to Juli Bauer of PaleOMG’s podcast and she did an episode called Abstainers v. Moderators. The episode was based off an article posted by Popsugar all about these 2 very different approaches to eating and how understanding which one you are can help you have a better relationship with food and help you reach your health/fitness goals.

Before we go any further let’s discuss the difference between an abstainer and moderator. According to  the Popsugar article here’s the difference:

You’re a moderator if you:

  • Find that occasional indulgence heightens your pleasure and strengthens your resolve
  • Get panicky at the thought of “never” getting or doing something

You’re an abstainer if you:

  • Have trouble stopping something once you’ve started
  • Aren’t tempted by things that you’ve decided are off limits

Let’s clarify the difference further by thinking about dessert time and use chocolate chip cookies as an example. A moderator will bake a batch of cookies, have 1 cookie then put the rest away any will maybe have 1 cookie per night that week without any temptations to have more. An abstainer will bake those cookies, eat the entire batch and then crave sugar for the next 3 days sending them in a spiral of shitty eating.

So are you an abstainer or moderator?



Why “everything in moderation” may not work for everyone

In the article a woman named Brooke Barnett is interviewed about how she lost 100 pounds and how simply recognizing that she was an abstainer not a moderator helped her achieve this incredible success.

“I’m an abstainer,” she told us. “I would love to actually be a moderator and to be able to moderate my intake, but that’s just not how I’m wired.”

“Once I started experimenting with the idea of abstinence [from food], I realized that having none was often easier than having one,” said Brooke. “I no longer had to use mental energy or willpower to play the ‘Should I? Shouldn’t I?’ game of moderation.”

“After abstaining from foods like sugar and refined carbohydrates, I no longer have the same taste for them, and not eating them is a nonissue, whereas moderating these foods felt like a constant struggle. Now that my body has weaned off its drug-like response, I don’t really crave sweets or snacks, and I enjoy eating real food.”

-Brooke Barnett

You see, “everything in moderation”, “balance” or an “80/20” type outlook on food may work for some people but for others one taste of a cupcake or 1 slice of pizza may send them into a downward spiral of unhealthy eating.

Will Brooke ever eat pizza or a cupcake again…probably. But while she’s on this weight loss journey and lifestyle transformation she’s figured out what helps keep her focused on her goals and achieving incredible success.



This doesn’t just apply to food…

Oh no…food is only half the battle because BOOZE is another huge thing you’re either an abstainer or moderator with.

I often fall into bad habits where I start having a glass of wine at night then the next night I crave it again then the next night shit I may have 2 glasses and all of a sudden I’ve created this habit of having 1-2 glasses of wine per night and actually craving the alcohol to help me relax after a long day of work.

Is a glass of wine a couple times a week an issue…no but if my goals are to lose weight, tone up, get better sleep, eat better…etc having wine every single night certainly isn’t going to help.

So ask yourself can you limit yourself to a drink or two a couple times a week or does that drink cause you crave more alcohol more frequently?



Personally, I’m an abstainer…

Like Brooke, I recognize that I’m an abstainer.

I can’t have chips/crackers/cookies/ice cream/alcohol…etc in my house because simply knowing that those foods/drinks are available causes me to instantly crave them and we all know once you start munching on some chips it’s impossible to stop.

Instead my house is stocked with fresh veggies, hummus, nuts, sparkling water…etc. This sets me up for success because I really only snack when I’m truly hungry not craving junk for some emotional reason.

Do I ever eat bad foods? YOU BET! But I limit it for special occasions like my family coming over for a BBQ, catching up with friends or date night.

My goal with eating like this isn’t to lose weight…not at all actually. It’s more to focus on fueling my body with healthy foods that allow me perform my best when I workout, that give me energy throughout the day, that make my skin glow and prevent me from falling into bad habits of eating crap.



Your Turn,

Are you an abstainer or a moderator?

Are you a salty or sweet person?

What to you find to be the hardest part of reaching health/fitness goals?



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