Abstainer Vs Moderator


I’m sure you’ve heard someone say this to you, or found yourself saying these words,


“Everything in moderation”


However, for some…and for some foods abstinence is a better approach than moderation.


This ties into what we cover with coaching clients, called the traffic light strategy. Where we identify foods in our environment (be it the kitchen, our usual coffee shop, work kitchen, etc.) and categorise them into ‘green’, ‘yellow’ and ‘red’, depending how well the satisfy us, how often they leave us craving more, thinking more, or over-indulging – we also take into consideration how natural the food is, nutrient-dense, and beneficial for our bodies to function optimally.


But for now, let’s just consider how satiating a food is and whether it makes us over-indulge.


Here’s a quick test, HOW would you finish off this scenario?

You’ve had a rough day at work, you stop by the local supermarket to pick up some food for dinner. On the way to the checkout desk, you see your favourite ‘family-sized’ chocolate bar / cheesecake / sweets on a discount and add it to the basket…It’s been a long day you deserve it.

You arrive home, cook your dinner, finish cleaning up, and chill out on the sofa in front of the TV. You’re not particularly hungry, but you’ve just remembered the treat you bought at the store….and now you’re craving!

You make your way back into the kitchen, take a portion size of the cheesecake (chocolate or sweets), and head back up to the TV room with a cup of tea….


…How does this story end for you?

a) You eat your treat slowly, savouring each mouthful, it hits the spot and you’re 100% satisfied. DONE. Saving the rest for another day.

b) You rush into the TV room, quickly polish off the portion-sized treat, feeling full but unsatisfied… as it didn’t quite ‘hit the spot’ like you anticipated. You hold off for a while, but then find yourself back in front of your favourite treat taking another portion. In fact, it’s so good you just eat it there. Then there’s only a ‘small’ bit left and you think to yourself “well I’m going to have it at some point, might as well be now right?”… And there goes the ‘family’ sized chocolate bar, or cheesecake for four in a meal, and guess what? You’re probably STILL NOT SATISFIED.


Some experts, believe that you’re EITHER an abstainer or moderator. However, personally - and what I see with clients - I think for most people they have different triggers. Some foods they’re better off abstaining from, than entering into a psychological battle with themselves against over-indulging. Other foods they’re able to treat themselves with, and it won’t have the same effect, they feel satisfied and able to continue on without craving more.


There are those however, that are at both ends of the continuum. True moderators, where “everything in moderation”, really does work, and never get the urge to over-indulge. Complete abstainers, who benefit both psychologically and physically from removing foods they crave or over-indulge on frequently from their diet and environment.


Whatever you are, and whichever foods you find trigger reactions and thoughts, the first step is becoming AWARE / CONSCIOUS of it, then you can change your environment / habits if necessary to progress.


So…next time you’re enjoying a treat, tune-in with yourself for a second, become conscious of your feelings, actions, and ask yourself, ‘Do I feel satisfied? Is this a food I can moderate?’  


Stay Healthy and Happy,