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Moderating Vs. Abstaining: Find Out Which Works For You

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Just because we have the option to fill our macros with anything we wish, in moderation, doesn’t mean that those choices can’t influence our success from an adherence standpoint. For some people, abstaining from certain foods makes it easier to diet, and that’s okay too.

Let’s talk about the difference between moderators and abstainers.


  • Are able to enjoy “treat” foods without overconsuming
  • Feel overly restricted and want to rebel at the idea of avoiding a specific food while dieting


  • Find it hard to stop at “just one” and often overindulge when eating “treat” foods
  • Prefer having more rigid boundaries in order to structure their diet

You might find yourself fitting very comfortably in one of these camps, but for a lot of us, it’s not that cut and dried. There might be specific foods that act as triggers, so maybe you need to abstain from having pints of Ben and Jerry’s in the house, but having a buffer food* like Greek yogurt with fruit could satiate wanting a creamy and sweet dessert.

*A buffer food is a food item that allows us to satiate a craving that we have as an alternative option to a trigger food.

Many people find that the less frequently they eat “treat” foods, the less they crave them. Not only does this shift habits away from regularly choosing those foods but it allows us to experiment with other tasty ways to fill macros!

If you are finding that you’re regularly going over your macros due to a certain food, or regularly saving up lots of macros in order to indulge in a large portion of treats, try to experiment with what your day of eating can look like without that food. After a week you might start to notice less cravings, more energy through the day due to having more “free” macros to spread out, and improved progress.

Another easy trick is to remove treat foods from your house. Having to slow down when a craving strikes to actually go and buy the food might prove that these cravings are fleeting. This will show that you’re eating more out of habit or from having convenient access to that food, rather than a genuine want.

For more ideas on how to make your space more supportive of your goals, check out the environmental overhaul!

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Love what you learned but still want more guidance and support? Hire a 1:1 coach who will get to know you, your lifestyle and your unique needs and create results that you can sustain long-term. If you're not quite ready to go all-in on hiring a coach, check out our Macro Calculation Cheat Sheet & 18 Tracking Tips and Tricks for macro counting!

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Posted by Kate Hart

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