Self-Control: How Do You Regulate Your Eating Habits?

In and OutI’ve been continuing to ponder the abstainers vs. moderators distinction.

In case you haven’t been breathlessly following this line of argument: in a nutshell, when facing a temptation, abstainers do better if they abstain altogether, while moderators do better if they indulge a little bit, or from time to time.

The other day, a friend who is a true moderator told me, “I got a sundae from my favorite ice cream store, and it was so, so good. But after the tenth bite or so, I could hardly taste it anymore. I had a few more bites, then it turned into a puddle, and a friend of mine finished it for me.”

To me, this is a very foreign way of acting. The difference between my friend and me made me wonder if this is a distinction between abstainers and moderators, and I’d love for you abstainers and moderators out there to weigh in on this question.

Moderators, does your desire often diminish as you eat? Does it drop off in intensity?

Abstainers, do you experience this? Or do you find that your desire for the last bite is just as strong as for the first bite? Or does desire actually gain momentum from the first bite, so you want the next bite even more?

Perhaps this is another pattern that distinguishes abstainers and moderators. Or perhaps not.

If you want to read more about abstainers and moderators, I write about it in Happier at Home, chapter 5. You might also be interested in the post–I must say, one of my favorite posts of all time–about my sister’s experience when she decided to be “free from French fries.”

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About Gretchen Rubin

Gretchen Rubin is the author of several books, including the New York Times bestsellers, Happier at Home and The Happiness Project. On her popular blog, The Happiness Project, she reports on her daily adventures in the pursuit of happiness. Gretchen has emerged as one of the most thought-provoking and influential writers on happiness to have emerged from the recent explosion of interest in the subject. Though her conclusions are sometimes counter-intuitive—for example, she finds that true simplicity is far from simple to attain, and that used rightly, money can do a lot to buy happiness—her insights resonate with readers of all backgrounds.