We always hear the diet advice, “Everything in moderation.” But sometimes,  it’s better to give something up completely, than constantly wrestle with resisting it, or moderating ourselves. That’s what Gretchen Rubin says. She’s the author of “The Happiness Project.” For years we’ve heard that if we make certain things off-limits, we’ll end up feeling deprived and eventually binging on that forbidden food. 

But Rubin says, sometimes, trying to regulate ourselves takes more willpower and mental energy than just giving something up for good, and going cold-turkey. That’s why people who are trying to quit smoking, drugs or alcohol, for example, have to give up completely. If they allow themselves wiggle-room, they’ll just go back to their destructive habits. Rubin says, the key is to know which method works for your personality. Here are the guidelines.      

You’re a moderator if:

  • Indulging in something once in a while satisfies your craving and strengthens your resolve.

  • A moderator may also feel panicky at the thought of never having a French fry, or candy bar, again.

But you may be better off abstaining if:

  • You have trouble stopping yourself from doing something once you’ve started. Like if you open a bag of cookies and don’t stop eating until it’s empty.

  • You also may be better off abstaining if you aren’t tempted by things once you’ve decided they’re off limits. If that sounds like you, try swearing off your food weakness for good. But don’t tell yourself “I can never have French fries again.” That couches it in a negative light. Instead tell yourself, “I’m free from French fries.” Because, for abstainers, giving something up is freedom, freedom from having to make that decision every time you’re faced with a cookie, freedom from the guilt when you give in, and freedom from the anxiety over what you’ll do the next time you’re face-to-face with a Chips Ahoy.