Are You an Abstainer or a Moderator?

mindset nutrition Mar 05, 2020

Confession Time

My 15-year-old son has a metabolism like a hummingbird. It seems that if he doesn't eat every 2 hours he's likely to waste away. And because of this incredibly fast metabolism, he can get away with less than optimal food choices without showing any adverse effects.

It was therefore no surprise when I found a half eaten box of hot tamales, those little spicy cinnamon candies, in our pantry over the weekend.

You may recall that it's been about 2 months since I did my own Added Sugar Audit and took the majority of added sugar out of my own diet. However, I'm not militant about following this 100% and I do allow the occasional treat. And I really used to love hot tamales. So it seemed no big deal when I decided to have a couple while reading on Saturday.

Release the Beast

Apparently I still have a sugar fiend inside me, cause after those first two little candies, I couldn't stop thinking about hot tamales. I knew there were more. And two by two by two I kept going back for another serving. After 15 or 20 of those things hit my stomach I snapped to my senses and threw the rest of the candy away (in the garage so I wouldn't be tempted to rifle through the kitchen trash in some kind of sugar-induced craze).

This little misadventure reminded me of the concept of abstainers vs. moderators.

Abstainers vs. Moderators

Author and blogger Gretchen Rubin writes about abstainers and moderators in her book about habits, Better Than Before, and you can read a bit more in her blog here.

Here's how she describes the two:

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

 

Knowing which you are allows you to set strategies for avoiding temptation.

Abstainers will do well removing trouble foods from the environment, practicing saying "no" to kind offers of these foods from family and friends, and envisioning how they'll feel one hour after they have that first bite and start the downhill slide.

Moderators, on the other hand, might find themselves distracted by cravings and understand that they can move on to other things once they have that one serving.

Personally, I believe you can be an moderator for some foods and an abstainer for others. I'm can easily moderate dark chocolate, alcohol, and cookies. 

Clearly I'm an abstainer when it comes to hot tamales.

Have a great week!

Cheers,

Dr. Topher Fox

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