Moderation or Abstinence?

I recently enjoyed Gretchen Rubin’s post on the subject of abstinence vs. moderation. Moderation seems to be the most practical, realistic approach to most things. And I am a very practical and realistic person. However, I often struggle with moderation.

Frog and Toad TogetherOne of my favorite children’s books is Frog and Toad Together by Arnold Lobel. In the story “Cookies”, Frog and Toad eat and eat cookies. “‘You know, Toad,’ said Frog with his mouth full, ‘I think we should stop eating. We will soon be sick.'”[1. Lobel, A., Frog and Toad Together. HarperCollins, 1979]

“‘You are right,’ said Toad. ‘Let us eat one last cookie, and then we will stop.'”[2. Lobel, A., Frog and Toad Together. HarperCollins, 1979]  They try, with no success, to control their cookie consumption. Eventually they have to throw away the cookies so they won’t eat anymore. I think we’ve all been there at some point!

I am trying to moderate my soda intake. So far, it’s been fairly successful. However, I know I should give the stuff up completely. Perhaps I will someday. I am a big believer that change doesn’t have to be all or nothing. So, for now I’ll focus on the positives of drinking less soda rather than the overwhelming task of complete abstinence.


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Sharon Martin, a licensed counselor and psychotherapist in Northern California, specializes in helping adult children of alcoholics and others who struggle with anxiety, perfectionism, and self-criticism. She has a private psychotherapy practice in CA where she is available for online counseling. Sharon is also the author of The CBT Workbook for Perfectionism and write the blog Conquering Codependency for Psychology Today.

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