Humans suck at moderation

Humans suck at moderation.

The concept (and failure) of "everything in moderation" has been studied most closely by food and nutrition experts.

If you've ever tried dieting by eating desserts "in moderation," you know it doesn't work. That's because moderation is a flimsy word, according to the Whole9 nutrition blog.

Habit research shows that black-and-white goals—without any room for interpretation, justification, or negotiation—are far easier to meet than squishy goals. “I will eat less sugar,” “I will exercise more,” “Everything in moderation”… all examples of squishy goals with loads of room for us to bend them to our will and desire.

The problem, of course, is that willpower alone isn't strong enough to keep us in balance. Our finite willpower is spread across a number of different tasks, all with varying degrees of importance.

We spend, on average, 3-4 hours a day resisting desires. We only have one finite tank for willpower, and any number of actions (avoiding Facebook during the workday, biting back an angry retort at your co-worker, being patient with your kids, saying “no thank you” to the offered candy) rely on the same willpower tank.

Systems and habits help us stay on track. Here are a few examples:

  • No sweets Sunday through Friday instead of "less sugar".
  • Run every Monday, Wednesday, Friday instead of "run more."
  • Write 1,000 words every day instead of "write more."

Check out the post to read more about the science of moderation.

Read the post (~7 minutes)

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