There are some foods I just can’t keep in my apartment. I buy them and quickly I eat them, not always in moderation. I have struggled to eat certain foods with portion control since I first lost the weight I gained Freshmen year of college. There are two theories when it comes to this problem among health professionals… 

1. Everything in moderation. If you don’t allow yourself to have it, you will crave it and end up binging anyway.


2. Out of sight. Out of mind. If you can’t have just one bite, don’t have any at all! Easier said than done though, right?

Some of my favorite foods to eat mindlessly were dried fruit, cereal, granola, nut butters and nuts. All of these things are essentially “healthy” in the minds of most health conscious eaters but are loaded with sugar and or fat not to mention calories if over consumed. When I successfully am able to lose weight (I yoyo between a 10 lb. range for those new to my blog, depending on the season and my work commitments), I ban the foods from my diet. When I start to reintroduce them with the “moderation” mindset, I start off great but eventually fall back on my old habits. 

I keep certain nuts, almond butter, and raisins for snacks and recipes in the house but you won’t find granola or crunchy cold cereal boxes on my shopping list. I will eat them once in a while but not from my own cupboards. I do love oatmeal and muesli though so I don’t miss either one. Both are clean alternatives to cereal and granola that can be added to yogurt if you like that sort of thing or almond milk of course. MixMyOwn is an online retailer that allows you to make your own mix of muesli. You can make your own granola or cereal too, if you have self control around the stuff. Get 10% off your order with code HEALTHYBREAKFAST.

I added pistachios, cashews, goji berries, cacao bits, quinoa puffs and my new favorite mulberries to my complementary bag. There were more goodies inside the bag, but of course I ate some of them before taking this picture, reminding me that I still have to be careful even with oats! I love being able to create my own superfood mix without having to buy the ingredients in bulk which clearly I would eat separately and mindlessly.

I did a 1 day cleanse from The Ripe Stuff Tuesday because down in New Orleans, I had a little too much fun with the food and booze on Bourbon Street. I think I like cleanses because every “meal” is portioned out. Give me my portions and I will stick to them! I know I had a lot of energy aka calories stored from the weekend because it was the easiest one day cleanse I’ve ever done.

I taught at 8:20 am at Barry’s and took a modified class after mine. I did my own thing on the treadmill and used mostly bodyweight for the strength training. I didn’t “cheat” once until after my final juice and I had a few cashews. I also love cleanses because it helps me remember that I don’t NEED to be eating all the time. I also enjoy how I feel when I do eat less – more energy and concentration!

I am an all or nothing person. When I was taking classes with the Institute of Integrative Nutrition we learned a lot about mindful eating and why we “binge.” However, even though I know the tips and tricks, it is still challenging. The key is to notice the difference between hunger and emotions, and choosing the correct food to consume. Sometimes the cure is just an extra hug or person to talk to at night. 

The answer is not as simple as, “Put down the fork” or “Paint your nails.” Many of you probably know these tips too but still struggle. Fewer, like me, probably know the cause of your overeating but you can’t seem to get it under control. Unfortunately, we don’t all have a Jillian or Bob to yell at us and then bring us to tears with a cathartic moment. 

Here is what works for me:

1. Ban the foods you overeat from your home. You’ll be less likely to binge on something in public so allow yourself the cupcake at the networking event. Food tastes better when it’s enjoyed with other people. Remember that!

2. We all make mistakes. You’re going to make another soon. Forgive yourself. Sometimes the best therapy is a little chocolate. If you’re OK with a little extra exercise or less snacking tomorrow, consider it a cheap therapist. 

3. Figure out your shit. Is there something you need to get off your chest? Maybe it’s a relationship, family/boyfriend/girlfriend that is going through a rough patch that has you turning to food. Instead of ignoring it, jot down your feelings and figure out a way to resolve them. If there is no solution, you’re not going to stop! It may be a life changing decision but if it is a hard one, chance are good that you’ll be happy with both options! For example, if you are depressed about not having someone for Valentine’s day, what are you doing to proactively meet someone that’s a good match? Sign up for an online dating site or start making plans with your single friends to visit bars that attract the guys you like.

Keeping busy, meeting friends for lunch or gym class, planning out my meals and not working from my kitchen counter top are also tips that have helped me fight the urge. If this post resonated with you, I’d love to hear your thoughts below. What are your trigger foods and are you a moderation or ban it kind of person?



Ban it or in Moderation?

| Uncategorized | 26 Comments
About The Author


  • Katie C

    I’m the same way with nuts/nut butter. I’ve stopped buying almond butter because i’ll eat 10 tablespoons at once! even though it’s more expensive I love the Justine’s almond butter pouches that are single serve because it’s instant portion control. and I agree with the all or nothing. I stop craving it after a while if i stop buying it or make a point to completely avoid. kudos to those people who are satisfied after their 1oz of dark chocolate, i don’t know how you do it!

  • DustinAaron

    I can relate to your “all or nothing” personality. Dave Tate from talks about his “Blast or Dust” approach to training and it’s similar. I hate training or dieting unless I’m all in. Which stinks b/c I have no moderation. I’m either healthy for a time, or I’ll spend 4 months in a row out of the gym and paying no attention to what I eat.

  • Kristin

    Thank you for this post! Everyone is different so it’s great to have your post acknowledge that. I struggle with eating healthy, too. For me, it’s ban it 99% of the time. If I’m craving something in particular and no alternatives are satisfying it, I allow myself to indulge (a few pieces of chocolate or a few handfuls of chips) and but then I don’t purchase the tempting item again because for me, if it’s not in my house, I won’t be able to eat it and most of the time, I won’t even think about it. After that, I can usually go about a month or so without the diet-derailing goody.

  • Maddie K

    Wait Sarah why dont you eat oatmeal anymore?! Is it because it’s included in the list of foods that’s difficult to have in moderation or did you just decide to remove it from your diet?

  • Nicole

    Great topic Sarah. I agree as there is no right way or wrong way–it’s just a matter of knowing which strategy works better for you. I am totally an abstainer ( if you have ever read the happiness project). I realized this even more now that I live by myself and tend to snack when I am bored.

  • Erin F

    o man! yes, this resonated with me. and it made be feel really at ease. so thank you.
    i ban foods from my house as well. not from my life. but yes, from my house. and i’ve always felt sort of.. weak? less put together than others? because just enjoying them in moderation is never a sure thing for me. and its frustrating to have to perpetually coach myself to make the right choice.
    if they are not in the house, i don’t think about it and i can be focused on other things.
    and yes, i have these things outside of home. and frankly, get a much more satisfying enjoyment, without the risk of feeling mad at myself.
    so thank you again for making this feel like a reasonable solution! πŸ™‚

  • jenny

    Sarah! This is awesome and so helpful. Figure out your shit! That’s perfect. I have a big problem with the gluten-free granola from “Bakery on Main”… it is SO good and if I can keep it at 1/3 cup (serving size), it’s all good… but when the bag is gone in one day, YIKES! So easy to overindulge in granola. I also cannot have those peanut butter puffs (cereal) because I eat it by the handful while working from home. Love your tip about not working in the kitchen. I tend to do my work upstairs or on the couch with a comfy blanket and a water next to me. Great advice, Sarah!

  • Jennifer Flood

    The out of sight out of mind principle really works for me. If it is in the house I am very likely to eat the things I crave. If it is not here, I am going to have to get dressed, get in the car, and drive to get those chips.

  • Agata

    Agreed on all accounts. Cashews, nut butters, and trail mix are my vices. Anytime I buy them, I promise to practice portion control but it NEVER happens so I choose to keep them out of my apartment. Great post, Sarah!

  • Becky @ Olives n Wine

    Thank you for being so honest about something that so many of us struggle with! It’s hard to have the foods you definitely can’t control yourself around at home which is why I keep cereal, nuts, chips and desserts out of the house!

  • Marieve

    I have a rule, I will eat clean 99% of the time at home or make clean lunches but when I’m out (party, family gathering) I’m allowed to “cheat”. I hate how we use the word “cheat”. Its not really about cheating but staying true to yourself (I believe in clean eating). But I still have trouble with portion control when I’m out! And that peanut/almond butter….it’s killing us!! Can’t have only one teaspoon!

  • Kelly

    My trigger foods are any type of chips or crackers….I try to ban them from the home but the hubby and kids always have them with sandwiches or burgers. If they are there I cannot control myself and can easily eat the entire bag. Sad thing is…I don’t feel guilty afterwards because they are really that good! lol

  • Vanessa

    Good stuff here Sarah! I feel similar about your 1st tip. I used to buy an unhealthy treat to keep in my apt for when I wanted that treat once in a while (thinking I can keep it in moderation), but then I would wind up eating way more than I should! 1 oreo, 2 oreos, 3 oreos,4, 5…… lol. Better for me to not buy it at all! I would much rather indulge once in a while with people, like at a party or something. It’s easier to stay in control that way for me.

  • Bailey

    I’m an all-or-nothing person too -- my problem is ice cream! I knoooow I should keep it out of the house, but it still seems to make its way into my freezer. Guess I need to “figure out my shit” hahaha!

  • Cassie

    For me, sometimes saying I can’t have any (especially pb with molasses) is easier than moderation because I cannot eat plain pb with natural sweeteners (maple syrup, honey, molasses) in moderation. What’s funny is that I can totally have all the ingredients in my house, but I just have to tell myself, “No, not that combination ever” and I don’t eat half a container of pb in a day. πŸ™‚

  • Ashley @ Sweet carolina belle

    These are great tips. I am like you where if it is in my house I will eat it so I don’t bring it into the house. Also I love the thought that food tastes better with friends. Far too many of my lunches are eaten alone so when I can have dinner or drinks with friends I need to do so!

  • Natasha

    I definitely have had struggles with overeating in the past, and I find that in the end I have a tendency to be a “distraction eater.” Especially when I’m doing reading or school work that I don’t want to do, I have a tendency to rummage through the fridge for anything…lol NOT GOOD!

    I am sorta in the middle between a ban it and moderation person, but the ONE food that I just cannot keep in the house, well food combination I guess, is brie and crackers. I don’t know what it is about that combo , but I literally just cannot stop eating it. I also started to overeat hummus and carrots a little bit, but that didn’t last long!

    Great post!

  • Hayley Lytle

    This is a really well thought out meaningful post, Sarah, I enjoyed reading! I too have that “all or nothing” mindset. Actually my whole family does and because of that all of us, including my dad, have struggled with eating. I completely agree though, if it is a food you tend to overeat and then feel crappy about it, don’t buy it!

  • Christina

    Hi Sarah, thanks for this post! I am an All or Nothing Person too! I am a huge fan of Jillian Michaels and I listen to her podcast every week but this is something she never addresses because she seems to be an “in moderation” person. She always talks about using 200 or 300 cals on a daily treat like organic chocolate etc…but for me that little treat would send me into a downward spiral! I have never been that type of person who can have a bite or two of a sweet and feel satisfied….I want the whole thing! Some cocoa mixed with stevia and a little almond milk really helps chocolate cravings for me. When I struggled with my weight cereal was a HUGE problem for me so I haven’t eaten it in years. I think some “in moderation” people find stuff like this a little extreme (like how you occasionally get judgmental comments about your juice cleanses) but clearly it’s important to figure out what works for your own body. Thank you for always being so upfront and honest about things you struggle with, you are an inspiration to so many women.

  • Toni

    This is exactly why I love your blog! Honest and relatable! Reading this post makes me want to sit down and have coffee with you, seriously. I’m an engineering student in college and I’ve been trying to learn what moderation is for about 6-7 years now. When I was an athlete in high school, I definitely had no problem giving up virtually all sweets because I only lived with my mom and I had a coach I met with for 2-4 hours every day. I realize now that’s not ideal or realistic, so I’ve struggled with weight gain since my freshman year. I think my body has equilibrated, but it has been virtually impossible to take it off. What would you suggest to someone who really loves to work out, but is lucky to get 6-7 hours of sleep in a night and has roommates with serious sweet-tooths (sweet-teeth?) haha

  • Lauren Paradis

    I needed this post. I ate so much this past week. Like you said, I need to figure out my shit! Why am I eating so much? I know with 5 workouts a week, I need fuel. But I need better fuel!!

    Trail mix, chocolate, nut butter, …. ah, I can’t handle myself if it is in the house!

    I need to stop buying it, like you said. But what happens when you really do have a craving and don’t want to deprive?? Lose-lose situation for sure!

    Thanks for the great post!! <3

  • logan mathis @ Flatstomach101

    I agree with the banning to some degree. It’s better safe than sorry. if anything, I would buy whatever it is in a very small portion. When it comes to chocolate, I buy the bite size candies that come in a pack of 6-8 and eat one here and there over a longer period of time. People shouldn’t think of it as munching down on foods so much. Think about trying to expand the time between which you eat your candies. If you are like I was I would chow down on that whole pack in a minute. Well, I started to try to expand it to an hour, then every meal, then having one morning and night, to one a day, to one every other day and so on. This helped me greatly as it also improved discipline and will power…both scientifically shown that if exercised can grow and be strengthen πŸ™‚ Great post! Keep it up!

  • Reeni

    I am definitely a ban it person for some foods like chocolate and soda, but can use moderation for some other types of food. I will have to use the tip about staying out of the kitchen to work. I sometimes work on my kitchen table which makes me crave foods even when I am not hungry! Thanks for sharing:)

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.