Have you heard the idea in nutrition that you can have anything in moderation? So you try to have some ice cream, just a small bowl. Then you go back for more, then more until the whole pint is gone. Is there something wrong with you, that everyone else can moderate, but you can’t? What if I told you that most people can’t moderate, and very few people can moderate everything. That’s why we are going to talk about abstaining from certain things and consuming others in moderation.
WHAT IS AN ABSTAINER?
An abstainer is someone who completely eliminates certain foods from their diet because even a little bit throws them for a loop. This can be for any number of reasons. It can be they never eat gluten because they have an intolerance so they abstain from all foods that have it. They never eat peanut butter because every time they do, they end up digging through the container until it’s completely gone. They don’t eat any legumes because they become extremely gassy and the only way to make it go away is to not touch beans. These people usually have full categories of foods that they need to abstain from, such as sweets, carbs, or salty food. They have found that these specific foods need to be abstained from in their daily life because their bodies and/or willpower can’t handle these foods.
WHAT IS A MODERATOR?
A moderator is someone who can handle a certain amount of food and doesn’t have to use willpower to fight against eating more of it. This is the person who eats one scoop of ice cream from the freezer and doesn’t touch the box again for another week and rarely thinks about having it. This person can have 5 Pringles and put the top back on. These people usually don’t struggle with certain food addictions.
You can actually be a combo of both and most people are. Here are some examples:
EXAMPLES FROM OUR LIVES
Trev is more of an abstainer by nature.
ABSTAINER – I struggle with all carbs in general. For most of my life, I thought I needed to eat these in moderation before I learned that it’s ok to completely abstain from them. If I have one piece of chocolate, I eat the whole bag. I can’t go to Texas Roadhouse and just have one bun, I have to have a whole bowl of them. So when it comes to carbs, that’s why I do a carnivore diet which is a zero carb diet, because even in a keto diet where I can have a small number of carbs, I always end up overeating them. This then leads to overeating addictions and throws me off-plan. So I’m an abstainer from all carbs.
MODERATOR – When it comes to dairy though, I can easily moderate it. I can just have a slice of cheese and have no issue. When I used to drink alcohol, it was the same, I could have one beer and not desire to have anymore.
Nathan is more of a moderator by nature.
ABSTAINER – When it comes to M&M’s, Nathan is more of an abstainer, especially peanut M&M’s. He can make himself sick because he’ll keep going back for more. There is no regulation when it comes to them for him.
MODERATER – When it comes to most foods, Nathan can naturally have them in moderation. He didn’t grow up with a lot of sweets in his life so when he does have them, they tend to make him sick, and becasye if this he can easily moderate them in his life. Also, things like caffeine, soda, etc have always been something that he can just have a little of and not touch again for months and be fine with.
Erica is a moderator by nature.
ABSTAINER – Erica doesn’t need to abstain from foods for addiction purposes, but for her, she needs to abstain from many vegetables due to acne issues. When she has a consistent amount of vegetables as well as seeds in her diet, her acne will flare up, so abstaining from these has been the best solution to keep that in check.
MODERATER – Even though she does like sweets, Erica is the type of person that can have one bite of something and be done, but her moderation is instead of having a bunch at a time, she is more of a nightly small amount type of person.
WHICH ONE SHOULD YOU BE?
Neither one is right or wrong. You just have to best understand yourself and what things you struggle with. If you are a person that destroys a pint of Ben and Jerry’s, then realistically that food should no longer be a part of your diet. Some people will naturally be more abstainers from more things than others. Trev abstains from many things because he finds more control over his cravings and lifestyle that way. If you are someone that has certain eating habits and issues with controlling the volume of food you eat, then you might be more of an abstainer. Just be honest with yourself because what we desire to have and what we can have are two different things.
HOW YOU CAN TAKE ACTION
- Figure out where you fit in terms of being an abstainer and moderator of certain foods. Find the ones you need to abstain from and get them out of your life.
- If you are someone that really struggles with carbs and you can’t stop yourself from eating them, then it might be worth doing a carnivore diet for 3-6 months to see if you can get your control of eating other foods back.