The Happiness Project

A chronicle of my attempts to test-drive every tip, principle and scientific study that promotes happiness

Want to Be Free From French Fries?

I’ve written a lot about abstainers vs. moderators. In a nutshell, the difference is: abstainers find it easier to resist temptation by giving up something altogether, while moderators find it easier to indulge in moderation. Read More

I find abstaining easier.

If you don't buy it, it's not in the house tempting you. I may replace one thing with another thing, but I can make choices about what the replacement is. I can see why it would be very difficult for a smoker to quit while they still have a pack, or a dieter to ignore the bag of chocolate in the pantry. If those things aren't there, they have a MUCH better chance.

The difficulty is going to be for those who don't live alone. You may have no control over what your family members bring into the house. You can diligently remove product X from the house, only to find a family member has replaced it.

My bro and I have an agreement. We eat french fries only when we are together, and then we eat as much as we want. We live several hundred miles apart. It works. :-)

Gran- Oh-No la!

I agree with Fly...if you don't buy it, its not in the house tempting you. I was single for years and have recently begun co-habitating again. My partner is a tall, skinny food incinerator who eats as often as a he can to maintain his weight. He can afford to eat high calorie, high carb granola. I cannot. I gave up cereal about 10 years ago because I could not control my portions. And now it is in my cabinet. I didn't eat it for the first two months we lived together, but have been sprinkling it in my yogurt the past 2 days. NO.
I know I can say NO because I've had plenty of practice, but I recognize this as new challenge.
As to french fries, I have a rule about them as well. I only eat 1 specific brand of fries about 4 times a year. The brand is called Clear Coat. They are crunchy, god only knows what they are made of and they are the most delicious salty oily crunchy treat. If you are not a clear coat fry I cannot be bothered. If you are any food that came from a buffet, a potluck or the office mystery box, the answer is a firm NO. (I just imagine all the food covered in germs.)
I think the final peice that helps me to stay in control with food, are my food related values. I agree with your sentiment that self-control creates freedom. It is much easier to make decisions when we have limited our choices.

'Either-Or' or 'Both' ?

I thank the author for the brilliant 'abstainers vs. moderators' definition and distinction!

I found that for my personal maintenance of healthy eating lifestyle as well as for my online counseling work I have to assume that most people are not 'either – or' but “both”. For some foods we are abstainers (no cookies at my place) and for some foods we are moderators (the 'no fat' cottage cheese is for me; the very reach and juicy cheese is for my pretty wife to enjoy).


Dr. Joe

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Gretchen Rubin is the author of The Happiness Project, a book and a blog about her adventures learning to be happier.


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