singingsarah

Tired of saying "moderation won't work for me"

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Backstory: I'm currently on my 4th round of whole 30, rounds 3 and 4 have ben *almost* back to back (2 weeks off). First two rounds taught me a lot but habits didn't stick. I keep trying, though, because I feel that I'm on the cusp of a healthy revolution for my self. I feel so so close, and hope that this round is where I really can apply this better in my everyday life when off whole30. I am a freelance musician, don't work regular hours, drive/commute a lot, and all around have a super weird schedule which makes the meal planning part stressful but with my current chaotic life, if I'm not whole30-ing, I won't eat well. Period.

Other backstory: My roommate has done several whole30's over the years, one of which we did together about a year ago (and before I knew the rules well....we totally did SWYPO that round). A few months after that round, she started working with a friend who is her health coach of sorts, and she has lost like 60 lbs over the course of 9 months. She looks amazing. She also has a lot more time to devote to her health, given that she has a 9-5/paid vacation/etc. She said she is glad she did the whole30 but doesn't ever want to do it again. Her diet is 'moderation,' which truly varies depending on the day, can include lots of veggies and proteins and good stuff, or could be lean cuisines/other not-very-clean prepared food.

I totally respect that everyone has their own journey to find good health and their definition of food freedom. I do. The thing is, I don't think my roommate gets it. Every time I say I'm struggling with staying on track, especially if it's related to being so busy, she starts up her spiel on moderation AGAIN. I have tried time and time again to say, "yeah, that won't work for me." I know that she is trying to be helpful. She sees me struggling, she sees that I want to be as healthy as her, and wants me to find my way to get there. Tonight she started telling me that she likes her food lifestyle because it gives her more options for on-the-go/when she needs food fast. I tried her way. I have articulated to her that I tried her way. In all honesty, the harder I tried for "moderation," the worse I ate. It just hasn't been a good option for me. Prior to my round 3, I was eating with total shame every night when I came home from a stressful day. I can't say fully since I have not seen a doctor, but I do think I was/am borderline binge eating disorder. I feel too, that I have a pretty strong, addictive personality. Most things in my life are very all-or-nothing-at-all. I've always been careful with certain things because I know I could easily be obsessed to an unhealthy degree if I'm not careful. 

I was reading in the first chapter of Food Freedom how for most people, black-and-white rules work best. I really resonated with this. I am the one who became a binge eater from trying to eat in moderation, and my roommate is one of the very few people out there who got it down. I guess I'm just curious as to what articles and research there is out there that supports Melissa's statement on this. I don't necessarily think throwing some articles at my roommate will help, but at the very least I'd like to understand why the black-and-white thing works best for most people, and why I know that it's the only way for me. Anyone have insight? Or, you know, tips as to how I can get this subject dropped once and for all? I feel like every time she brings it up it just makes me feel defeated. Like, I haven't had a huge transformation moment from whole30 yet so how can I stand my ground?

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I highly recommend Gretchen Rubin’s work about “the Four Tendencies,” which talks about exactly this issue, and I think it’s what Melissa based a lot of her observations on. Just like you said, it talks about how some people are “abstainers” and respond well to black and white rules, not squishy ideas like moderation.

I’m reading her book Better than Before, and it goes into how people develop habits and how different personalities respond and stuff. I think you’d like it, and definitely bonus points if your roommate would read it too to know where you’re coming from!  Good luck!

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I don't know who published it but there is research to believe that there are "abstainers" and "moderators" (as mentioned above).  Both will generally do poorly if they chose the opposite method (which is why roomie won't do a W30 again).  I don't have a difficult roomie with an ongoing issue like this but I think the answer to "how I can get this subject dropped once and for all?" is to say to her - hey, I'm an adult, your way won't work for me, so drop it, ok?  

The other thing to keep in mind is that the W30 isn't meant to be a revolution with a totally obvious short-term physical transformation... it is about changing the way you view food.  Sometimes including where it comes from, how it was raised, etc.  A lot of mindfulness that I think often gets lost in trying to lose weight in 30 days.  And, in my - totally-bought-in-to-W30 view of the world - *not* eating Lean Cuisines is a heck of a lot more important for lifelong health than not matching her trajectory for weight loss.  I am a binge eater and may be one forever.  But that does not diminish the "right-ness" of W30 - it has more to do with neural changes in my brain that I think are just very hard to undo... There is TONS of research out there on addictive brains and how they are different from non-addictive brains.  You could look up some of that stuff.   Here is one I saw recently in a waiting room :)

 

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2017/09/the-addicted-brain/

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10 minutes ago, littleg said:

I don't know who published it but there is research to believe that there are "abstainers" and "moderators" (as mentioned above).  Both will generally do poorly if they chose the opposite method (which is why roomie won't do a W30 again).  I don't have a difficult roomie with an ongoing issue like this but I think the answer to "how I can get this subject dropped once and for all?" is to say to her - hey, I'm an adult, your way won't work for me, so drop it, ok?  

The other thing to keep in mind is that the W30 isn't meant to be a revolution with a totally obvious short-term physical transformation... it is about changing the way you view food.  Sometimes including where it comes from, how it was raised, etc.  A lot of mindfulness that I think often gets lost in trying to lose weight in 30 days.  And, in my - totally-bought-in-to-W30 view of the world - *not* eating Lean Cuisines is a heck of a lot more important for lifelong health than not matching her trajectory for weight loss.  I am a binge eater and may be one forever.  But that does not diminish the "right-ness" of W30 - it has more to do with neural changes in my brain that I think are just very hard to undo... There is TONS of research out there on addictive brains and how they are different from non-addictive brains.  You could look up some of that stuff.   Here is one I saw recently in a waiting room :)

 

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2017/09/the-addicted-brain/

Here's the article most people reference when talking about abstainers and moderators.

https://gretchenrubin.com/2012/10/back-by-popular-demand-are-you-an-abstainer-or-a-moderator/

 

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I don't really have an answer for you but I can certainly relate. I have a highly addictive personality and am totally and all-or-nothing kind of person. In a lot of ways, Whole30 is easier than food freedom because I know the lines I cannot cross. And not crossing them at all is easier than moderating them when I do. I did a very successful round back in September of last year and completely reverted back to old eating habits. Because the thought of eating one cookie is just completely beyond me. If I'm gonna have a cookie, I'm gonna have a dozen of them. 

I'm doing my second round right now and am slowly working my way through Food Freedom Forever. However, I honestly think I'm going to have to set very clear rules for myself in my new life. I know they say not have cheat meals or cheat days, but I may have to go that route. Because then I have rules. I eat Paleo (or whatever long-term food philosophy I chose to adopt; I'm still doing research and learning from my Whole30) every meal out of the week except one. I'll continue to read the book and maybe I'll find some new strategies but I totally get it. It's hard. I do better with clear, back and white rules than I do with moderation. 

I know that wasn't particularly helpful. But I do relate. I wish you the best of luck in your journey! 

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I worked with a fantastic health coach who sees her personal food freedom as choosing to abstain from certain foods. (She also talked about Rubin's work). I also have a couple of people in my life that can totally pull off the moderation thing and think everyone should, and it does make me question myself from time to time. But, I have worked hard (even once with a coach who is trained in the psychology of eating) to try moderating and I cannot make it work for me. I'm like you, black and white rules work for me, when I let them. The only time I've ever felt real food freedom is when I followed food rules, 100%. So, I like the saying: "99% is a B, 100% is easy." For me, that is very true. The trick is to get over the mind games you play with yourself that convince you there is something wrong with you for needing to abstain. That can be hard to do when someone is telling you over and over that your way isn't the best way for you.

You might benefit from looking up books that deal specifically with sugar/food addiction. Learning that there was nothing wrong with me for needing 100% abstinence from certain foods has been really empowering. It also gave me the tools to navigate these less than helpful people in my life. I've learned there isn't one way to food freedom. For some, going through the mental checklist really works. For others, it just doesn't. 

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Does anyone know if Food Freedom Forever is helpful for people who do not do well with moderation (i.e., an "abstainer")? I'm debating whether to invest in reading the book... 

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1 hour ago, kirbz said:

Does anyone know if Food Freedom Forever is helpful for people who do not do well with moderation (i.e., an "abstainer")? I'm debating whether to invest in reading the book... 

Can you get it out of the library?  Im very much an abstainer... moderation is a train wreck for me.  That's not to say I never indulge in things that are 'worth it' for me, it's just that I put more parameters around it that works for my abstaining brain.  Like if I want ice cream - it is never worth it to eat alone, on my sofa, in my house.  It might be worth it on the boardwalk in the sunshine with a friend.  That keeps the abstainer part of me happy that there are black and white 'rules' around what's worth it instead of sort of slipping down the slope of moderation which I do not do well with.

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19 hours ago, CaseyD said:

I worked with a fantastic health coach who sees her personal food freedom as choosing to abstain from certain foods.

This is 100% a real thing. The distance from a food item also gives you an opportunity to reevaluate how much you actually like it - I decided not to eat ice cream for a year in 2016 (it had gotten to the point where I was eating very expensive gelato 4-5 times a week...). After a few months, I actually forgot all about it, and the year ended up stretching in to 18 months. At which point I had some ice cream, and my friends were all "isn't it the best thing ever?!", and I actually was very meh on it (previously I would wax lyrical about ice cream and it's greatness!). Since then, I've had it every couple of months or so, I know I can have it, I just don't particularly want it.

This year I have given up chocolate, which people find even weirder than ice cream! But again, it's just so much easier for me to say none, rather than "OK, just a quick peek down the chocolate aisle...whoops, was that a family block I just ate?". I'll still happily eat some chocolate fudge or a brownie at my local cafe (non-Whole 30, of course!), and people get confused and point out I'm eating chocolate. My life, my rules, people, mind your business!

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It's so good to read this discussion as I, too, struggle with these ideas. I find that I go back and forth between needing to concentrate on moderation and abstaining depending on my energy levels and what else is going on. One way isn't working for me 100% of the time. Thank goodness for W30 getting me back to focusing on what's right for me.  I'm hoping, praying, keeping my fingers crossed that my needs will be figured out soon and I will be able to sit down with that one spoonful of ice cream and be done. I think I'm almost there.  
 

I got Food Freedom at the library. I hope you can, too. Even if the ideas don't work for you 100%, the idea of reading and focusing on your relationship with food might help as it does me. I have/had a horrible relationship with food. I was working at a bake sale lately (thankfully during W30 R2) and saw kids bringing in some slightly unsightly lemon bars. I felt bad for the kids. I wanted to buy them to make the kids feel loved and appreciated. REALLY? Who does that? Then there were some marshmallow treats made with raisins and weird things that I would have loved and I was going to buy those too because they weren't selling quickly. For the first time in my not so healthy phase of life (that I'm struggling to break out of) I passed on both. It was difficult. REALLY difficult. In this situation I HAD to abstain or I would have given in to both and I don't waste food so they would have been consumed by me alone. But most of the time when I'm not tired and not frustrated, I can moderate what I'm eating. I think I need to adjust my moderation levels, though. So much to consider and I feel psychotic having to think about it all the time to stay in check. One day all this will pass????

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It does pass if you can get yourself to that level mentally.  

A spoonful of ice cream would just make me want more ice cream.  I get through my life just fine without ice cream, so why on Earth would I do that to myself?  I hate that feeling, so I choose to avoid it.  

I also don't look at "food" that is not food, and worry about it going to waste.  It goes to waste if it ends up in my body.  It causes all sorts of havoc on the way through.  Again... what purpose does that serve?   

So much of this is about changing your thought processes.  Recognizing that I am an abstainer and consciously making choices accordingly has never made me feel weak or defeated.   It is very empowering.  We get to *choose* to feel good.   Feeling good, and strong, with consistent energy to get through my days & do all I want to do in life (which is a lot) -- now, THAT is freedom.

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9 hours ago, Abcd said:

  I'm hoping, praying, keeping my fingers crossed that my needs will be figured out soon and I will be able to sit down with that one spoonful of ice cream and be done. I think I'm almost there.  

It may be worth reminding yourself that there is nothing about ice cream that is designed to be a spoonful and done. Its highly processed sugars and fats which together bombard your brain with the desire for more and rarely allows a satiety limit to be reached. You're not weak or undisciplined for not being able to stop at a spoonful....its designed so that you won't/can't.

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I only have one thing to add to this discussion, and it's to recommend a chat with your roommate and be honest with her and you guys sort out how you want to talk about food/diets/w30/whatever that will be productive for you both vs. going around this mulberry bush over and over again.  And I'm not saying to tell her that moderation doesn't work for you, I'm saying to tell her that every time you bring things up and she says "moderation" it makes you feel terrible and you need her to say something else to you (like "hey, you know you are a rule follower girlfriend - get back on your rules and work it!", or that you guys agree that you are going to talk to someone else about this stuff who gives you what you DO need in that conversation.  That's more relationship advice than w30 talk :) but I hope it helps.

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