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Moderation: Is It a Myth?

You’ve heard it before: “everything in moderation” or “moderation, not deprivation.”

Or maybe Oscar Wilde’s famous quote, “Everything in moderation, including moderation,” is more your speed?

That’s kind of the problem with moderation—it can get tiring after a while, and you may not feel like doing it anymore.

Your promise to yourself to only eat a moderate amount of dessert or have only one glass of wine may be well-intentioned, but sometimes feel impossible.

Moderation: is it a myth? Can you really eat moderately? I say you can, and here’s how.

Identify the foods (and beverages) that you really have trouble moderating. Whether it’s a list of ten things or just one or two, write them down or bring them front and center in your attention.

Now that you know what you struggle with, come up with a plan.

You can try if-then strategies if you’re heading to a party, for instance. An “if-then” strategy simply means you decide that “if” you do a particular thing, “then” you’ll do this other thing to follow up. You could say “If I go to the all you can eat buffet, then I will limit myself to one plate of food.” Or “If I eat dessert tonight, then I will not eat dessert again until the weekend.”

Just pick one of these for each situation, though, and use it over and over. Having more than one option makes it more likely that you’ll falter.

Keep foods you have trouble moderating out of the house. Yes, telling yourself you can never, ever have something can lead to rebound or binge eating, but if you don’t have it in the house, you can’t eat it. And you know when you can eat it? Somewhere special, when it’s special.

Let’s take dessert as the example again (because that’s what I know I have the most trouble moderating!). Instead of keeping an entire bag of chocolate sandwich cookies in the cupboard or a half gallon of Rocky Road in your freezer, consider keeping these foods out of your house entirely and indulging in them say, once a week.

When you go out to dinner on Saturday night, enjoy a delicious dessert made by a locally famous pastry chef. Go out for ice cream with the family. Buy a luscious truffle from a specialty chocolate shop and savor it.

When you do this, you’re allowing yourself to enjoy treats, but only at specific times.

If a food you have trouble moderating isn’t available at restaurants, like maybe your favorite BBQ potato chips, buy individual-serving size bags. If necessary, take one bag out of the pack, get a chair, and put the rest of them up someplace high, where if you wanted more of them you’d have to make a serious effort to get them. Individual sized bags keep your portions in check but allow you to still enjoy a favorite snack food.

Lastly, consider saving certain foods or beverages just for the weekend—but limit it to one day, otherwise you may find yourself drowning in soda/cheesecake/fried chicken from 4 pm Friday through 10 pm Sunday, which is definitely not in line with moderation.

Bottom line: It can definitely be done, you just need to set some realistic parameters, and in some cases remove the food from your house.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.