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TWM 14 – Absence Does Not Make the Heart Grow Fonder


Absence Does Not Make the Heart Grow Fonder

Today's Will Power Moment - 14

with Dr. James Meschino

When it comes to swearing off fattening or artery-clogging foods, the best strategy for most people is usually total abstinence. Most people, including myself, are not really good at true moderation.

Use small, safe indulgences each day to help prevent the temptation to more highly fattening and artery-clogging foods. I have discussed small daily indulgences before, things like donut holes (Timbits) Crispie Mini’s (small flavoured rice patties) a small biscotti, the top of a muffin, a handful of nuts, a piece of licorice etc. You have to know what your cheat outlets are so you don’t feel deprived. But when it comes to food that really does do a lot of damage, like high fat meats (spare ribs, big steaks, pork chops, chicken wings), and dairy products (cheese, butter, cream, ice cream, etc.), rich pastries, deep fried snack foods and chocolate bars, the best strategy for most people is total abstinence.

You simply decide that these things no longer exist in your world. This approach takes less mental energy and willpower than trying to use moderation. With moderation, you’re constantly having an internal dialogue and debate in your head that can lead to anxiety. “Should I eat it, shouldn’t I eat it?” The anxiety builds up and then you eat the thing to ease the anxiety because you’re likely an emotional eater like many people – people who eat even when not hungry just to soothe the anxiety of the moment. That’s an emotional eater, and that’s a whole bunch of people who struggle with weight loss and wellness success.

The truth is that “the less we indulge, the less we crave it”. Abstinence only makes the heart grow fonder for a while – then it DOESN’T. After a while you kind of forget about it. You don’t miss it as much. With abstinence you conserve energy and willpower because there is no decision to make and no self-control to muster. We’re all tempted by things but if we decide to never have those certain things (French fries, chocolate bars, potato chips, spare ribs, etc.) then it requires no self-control. It actually makes life easier. No decision-making or tormenting situations to deal with.

Now, to be fair, some people do well at true moderation when it comes to fattening and artery-clogging foods (but most cannot). You can spot these people. They remain pretty thin and their blood work is usually quite decent because they limit the portion size, indulge occasionally, not daily, and move their bodies adequately, even if they don’t have a formal exercise program. They have their one square of chocolate every day, or their one order of fries per week and only eat half the order, they have their 5 oz glass of wine 1-2x per week, they eat a sliver of a piece of cake once a week at their favourite pastry shop. For them the first bite tastes the best – then they’re done with it a bite or two later.

But that’s not what most people do. For the rest of us, the first bite leads to the second, third, fourth bite, until we eat the whole chocolate bar, the large serving of fries, the whole piece of cake, the whole order of chicken wings, the whole bag of chips, 3-5 glasses of wine, and so on. The first bite makes us want more. The truth is, it’s easier to extinguish the first desire then extinguish the desire once we start the indulgence. So, if you’re like most people and you’re not good at moderation, then admit it – and work on the abstaining approach. In your mind, just decide that certain tempting foods no longer exist for you anymore – and forget about moderation. Go for abstinence. It actually makes life easier and leads to greater success for most people.

That’s how you get the excess weight off the fastest, lower your blood cholesterol, blood sugar, help get your blood pressure get down, and feel more energized, with a greater sense of self-command and wellbeing. Out there in the world, “moderators” often feel that “abstainers”, like me, are too rigid and should relax a little. But if you’re not good at moderation (and most people are not), then abstaining completely from eating the really fattening and artery-clogging foods will very likely make you feel more relaxed and at peace with yourself, and make it much easier to succeed with your weight loss and wellness goals both today and in the future.


Eat Smart, Live Well, Look Great.

Dr. James Meschino

Dr. James Meschino


Dr. James Meschino, DC, MS, ROHP, is an educator, author, and researcher having lectured to thousands of healthcare professionals across North America. He holds a Master’s Degree in Science with specialties in human nutrition and biology and is recognized as an expert in the field of nutrition, anti-aging, fitness, and wellness as well as the author of numerous books.

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