Moderators vs. Abstainers

Gretchen Rubin, the author of The Happiness Project, among many other fantastic books, wrote in her blog about the concept of how some people are abstainers and some people are moderators by nature. I think it’s pretty interesting to look at Bright Line Eating through this lens, so watch this week’s Vlog to hear my thoughts.


Comments

  1. Marti

    I am a 10++++ on the Susceptibility Scale. I am a serious food addict, and sugar, flour and starch are my drugs of choice. I am also a binge eater and grazing cow. I battled with my weight for more than 27 years. Since 2008 I have quitted sugar and flour quite a few times. And lost weight. But then gradually my addiction took over again, and I gained all the weight back, plus some more. Yo-yo up and down, up and down. Then I discovered BLE. I decided to try once more. Once again I quitted sugar and flour – BEFORE I started Bootcamp. And on 10 October 2017 when I started Bootcamp it was the first time ever in my life that I measured and weighed my food, and ate only 3 meals per day. What a huge struggle! And what a revelation! I found the missing piece of the puzzle! I discovered that portions and meals are the way to control bingeing and grazing. And with lots of experimentation I discovered that TOTAL ABSTINENCE from NMF and NMD (combined with portions and meals) is the ONLY way I can control my highly addictive brain, and become happy, thin and FREE!!!! I had to ACCEPT AND ACKNOWLEDGE that (a) I have a serious addiction to sugar, flour and starch, and (b) moderation does NOT work for me, because I suffer from portion distortion. Therefore BLE works for me! Yes, I know there are moderators, but I am most definitely an abstainer. That is simply the way my brain works…..

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  2. JoAnne

    profound help here. As an addicted moderator I am jumping in anyway because I gotta!! But this blog helps me be okay with the resistance fight that is going on. Today I was telling myself it’s too much to learn [moderator sez] …then I tell myself: commitment counts.[ Because I pray and am actually helped, He [God] moves me to that positive place and I can clear away my emotions to keep moving forward. ] Thank you again

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  3. Cheryl Beatty

    So mad. So sad. Don’t wanna do this. I’m doing it.

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  4. Rhonda

    I want so bad to be a moderator with BLE because it’s how I roll. But I’ve come to the realization that my general moderating tendencies are only going to wreck me here. For me, the Willpower Gap plus the addiction plus the tendency to tweak everything I touch is a recipe for disaster. In fact, I’m drawn to BLE primarily because it has taught me WHY I don’t need to make food decisions in the moment. I can put that energy elsewhere and moderate other areas of my life. I still hate to be told what to do though!! And I have to admit that though I am scaling back the stevia in my tea, I’m still going there. It’s my one holdout of moderation at this point, but if it is an issue going forward, I’ll guess I’ll need to BLE that as well. But I’m from Alabama and I just can’t go all unsweet tea. Not yet…

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  5. Joanne Hinsperger-Scott

    I am definitely a MODERATOR. I did Bright Line Eating twice and of course with modifications. The first time around I stuck it out for 7 consecutive months. Lost weight and my energy improved slightly which was a big disappointment on the latter. So, I ditched the whole program and over time gained back my weight. The second time around I just couldn’t force myself to actually start. I think I succeeded for the occasional ONE successful BRIGHT meal but never an entire BRIGHT day. I found everything exhausting: recording my meals, committing meals, journaling at night, fb group, shopping for groceries, washing all the veggies, remembering to watch the videos, etc.

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  6. Athena (Maxine)

    This was really helpful! I know I need BLE, but I can’t do it 100%. I tried the Geneen Roth way, which she termed “permitter” vs “restrictor.” There was absolutely no way I could be a restrictor but I knew I needed to be. So it is the same thing, just different terminology. It became very clear in a short amount of time that Geneen’s solution was definitely not for someone who is on the Susceptibility Scale as a 10. I needed more direction and rules.

    I am currently in the BootCamp and am on the edges of the FB group simply because I really do not like FB, but I am learning so much. I appreciate this Vlog because I am doing very, very well with the no sugar, no flour, and actually, no processed foods like chips. I am also doing pretty darn well with 3 meals a day. All of these BLE “rules” really are so helpful in getting what I call “my sneaky voice” you call the Saboteur to be quiet. But what I am doing only somewhat is weighing and measuring and I am not following the Weight Loss Plan 100% which I know I need to do if I want to get the weight off.

    But I am getting there and I am not quite sure who said it, but I am making my way with love and kindness and doing it brilliantly imperfect or is it imperfectly brilliant!

    Glad to be here.

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    1. Bright Line Eating

      And we are happy to have you here too, Athena. Thank you for sharing more about the nuances of your BLE and Boot Camp experience. 🧡

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  7. Patricia O'Connor

    Great vlog, Susan. Understanding others’ systems is so important in understand ourselves and being helpful to others!

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  8. Mary Rose

    I can see from reading these comments that I am not alone in having felt like an imposter in the BLE community. I agree that the lines are good boundaries, but by golly, I just have to do them my own way in my own time. This has, in fact, made me feel like a failure, wondering why it was so easy for a lot of other people but so hard for me to “conform.”

    Susan and the BLE team, can you find a way to make us moderators feel we really do belong here, even if we simply have to do things our own way?

    Now I understand why I’ve felt uncomfortable when I hear a coach zero in on dealing with the “rebel part,” assuming that is the only thing keeping someone from being “squeaky clean.” Instead, can you help us moderators discover our innate strengths — instead of trying to squeeze us into an abstainer box?

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    1. Judith

      I second this request!

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    2. Athena (Maxine)

      I think this would be something to add to your wonderful Boot Camp and perhaps you have, I’m only on Module 5.

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    3. Bright Line Eating

      Hi, Mary Rose! Thank you for this reflection. Perhaps a Part 2 is in order? We’ll pass along your suggestion. 🧡

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    4. Joanne Hinsperger-Scott

      I like your suggestion Mary Rose! Thanks for sharing!

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    5. Rosie Nash

      Wonderful idea, Mary Rose! I hope Susan takes the idea and runs with it!.

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  9. Sherri A Healey

    I am definitely both. I am a natural born abstainer which I need for food/drugs/alcohol and have to be to survive and thrive but I am slowly becoming a moderator for other things like exercise. I used to be an all or nothing person in that regard and it never worked well. Now I am easing myself back into a life of an active person and it’s ok to miss a day or two etc etc. the world won’t end LOL. What doesn’t work for me is trying to moderate BLE which I have tried in the past, and it always ended in disaster. So I will JFTFP!! and moderate when needed for everything else 😉

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  10. Joseph

    I’m both — e.g., I’ll walk slowly into the cold pool, and quit smoking cold turkey. On balance, I’m more of an abstainer because of the clarity, although I do fine with ambiguity and nuance.
    Joseph in Missoula

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    1. Joseph

      But about food, I’m an abstainer. I can’t manage the decisions well all of the time, especially when my blood sugar is low. Susan covers this well when she explains the unreliability of willpower. NMF has resonance for me. For me, it works.
      Re some comments from others, I’ve heard Susan say on several occasions that not everyone needs to abstain. That’s mainly reserved for those with a history of not being able to control what and how much they eat, to a point of interfering with their lives. If this doesn’t describe you, then maybe abstention isn’t necessary. I say maybe because some think they’ve got it all under control, when they don’t.
      Joseph in Missoula

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  11. Caterina Arends

    Wow! This really helps clarify for me how to describe myself. Very helpful. I am what SPT described as a “Moderator” by temperament / personality, but with a food problem that needs abstinence on S/F. I am now 2-1/2 yrs in on BLE lifestyle. The 1st year, I totally put both feet in on 100% on entire program — knowing building a solid foundation was going to be essential. I knew “moderation” was NOT going to work for me with S/F at this stage of my life. The brain grooves were / are too deep. The weight and health issues were too advanced. The moderation style I had done in younger years, ages birth to 45, with S/F was no longer working and hadn’t for the last 25 years after too much S/F in response to life stressors. The addiction had become the progressive disease that it is.

    So, 1st year, 100% on everything BLE to lay foundation. 2nd year, 100% on the 4 lines, but able to do moderation on some of the BLE tools to better match my moderator personality / temperament to be able to maintain my lines long term.

    But, if I let my thoughts go to even considering doing moderation on the S/F lines, I totally lose my peace of mind and my brain goes nuts thinking about whether to make “exceptions”. To stop that I have to not let my thoughts go to the moderation concept when it involves S/F. My addicted brain lights up way too much and then drives me nuts. I love the peace of mind that has come from total 100% abstinence when it comes to S/F. It is such a joy to have that relief.

    So my lifestyle now is moderation in life but total abstinence with my addictive foods of S/F.

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  12. Judith

    This resonates with me, as I am clearly a moderator and need to do the experiments with each forbidden item, to check that it really is an issue (or not) for me. The danger is that the program is set up all around the strictest rules, and being a moderator makes me constantly feel like a BLE rebel–such that I don’t dare share what I really do, because it doesn’t fit the abstainer model and could trigger an abstainer. Nonetheless, being ‘outside’ the ‘fold’ seems to be where I’m comfortable being. I also like the Stephen Covey concept of ‘integrity in the moment’, which for me means making good choices even if they require bending the rules (and not eating exactly what was written down). I guess that is just another moderator-inclusive concept.

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    1. Denise

      Judith, me, too! I’ve really struggled with the abstinence stance of BLE and have actually backed away to get some space. I have found that I am a moderator, and I work much better in a program where nothing is off-limits, but I watch for signs/symptoms in my body to tell me if this food is helpful to me or harmful. BLE has been helpful to me, don’t get me wrong, but this does give me peace about what has been happening in my BLE journey. Thanks for your comment!

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      1. Judith

        Thanks for your affirmation as well!

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  13. Kitty

    Thanks so much for this! I have felt a bit like an imposter in BLE because I have “waded in” and not embraced all of the bright lines from day one. I did this to help my success in the program & not fail due to overwhelm.
    Thank you!!

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    1. Bright Line Eating

      You’re definitely not an imposter, Kitty. We respect and understand your journey as much as anyone else’s! 🧡

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  14. Suzan

    Wow, I think my Higher Self is an Abstainer, but I have Parts that rebel against that and do better with Moderating.

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  15. Moderator

    Absolutely agree. As a natural moderator (with food addiction and bingeing disorder) I started off doing everything as laid out by boot camp and the book although it went against my nature and was difficult. Since then I’ve found I prefer to not plan my meals in advance and do not need the Nightly Checklist. I use planning and different techniques when I need them but don’t like not having the freedom to change what I eat based on what I planned. I have done this long enough that I know what my handful of options are for each meal (automaticity) and I respect my moderator tendencies by allowing myself to choose in the moment. I don’t recommend starting this way as it’s easier to start strict and loosen up.

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