Is Complete Abstinence (CA) From Junk Foods Too Extreme?

No Junk Food
Complete abstinence is the only thing that consistently works for true addicts to overcome their addiction.

True story.

Moderation fails.

Every time.

But when your addiction is to food, something that you need to eat every day or you will die, the situation becomes more complicated.

Of course, if you don’t eat anything you will eventually starve, waste away and die.

Fortunately for most of us, we don’t have problems with all foods. There are only certain types of foods that we tend to crave and binge on. So-called “trigger” foods.

For me, trigger foods usually contain either added sugar or gluten. Cakes, pizzas, ice cream, doughnuts or “heart-healthy” *cough* whole-wheat bread.

I also tend to have problems with nut butters, whipped cream and artificial sweeteners.

My main goal now is to completely eliminate added sugar and gluten from my life, then be extremely careful with the other foods and do my best to avoid them.

Complete Abstinence (CA) – Too Extreme?

The most logical approach to overcoming food addiction is to completely abstain from these trigger foods.

I’ve consistently experienced, time and time again, that I can not handle these foods. If I eat them, I tend to binge on them… often for weeks.

Trust me, I’ve tried everything. Appetite suppression tricks, various supplements, even got a prescription for an appetite suppressant drug, I’ve tried cheating on the weekends, tried not cheating, tried low-carb, tried high-carb.

No matter what I’ve tried, I’ve failed. Every time.

This is an all-or-nothing phenomenon for me. Either I cheat all the time and face the consequences or I quit completely.

If you’ve had problems with the “eat in moderation” idea in the past… then perhaps you should consider complete abstinence as well.

Think about it… for some people, it’s either ALL or NOTHING.

Either continue the cycles of cravings, binges, relapses, weight gain and feeling miserable… eventually ending with something like diabetes, heart disease and death.

OR just stop it. Completely. No cheating, ever. Not ever.

Not on Christmas, not on Birthdays, not on New Years eve.

Personally, I don’t think complete abstinence is too extreme.

I am positive that it is the only thing that can reliably save me from this problem.

It’s the last resort.

Write Down a List of Pros and Cons

If this is something you’re honestly thinking about, then you should be prepared to make an informed decision.

Do your research first and think it over.

Then, you should write these two lists.

1. What are the cons of complete abstinence (CA)?

2. What are the pros?

The cons might include things like feeling a bit awkward in certain social situations, missing out on some quality ice cream time with the family, having fewer food choices, etc.

The pros will likely include a reduced risk of chronic, fatal disease like diabetes, heart disease and some cancers, weight loss and a much better body, feeling better every day, having more energy, actually feeling good in your own skin, you get the picture.

Write down EVERYTHING. Every reason, no matter how small, how big or how weird. Many of us have some peculiar and vain reasons for wanting to lose weight, for example. Write these down!

These lists are for your eyes only, don’t hold anything back.

Then read them side by side and ask yourself:

Is it worth it?


  1. Hey man. Found your blog through Google and have been reading the site for a few months now. Although I do not suffer from an ED, I can understand the addiction those foods have. Last year I weighed more than 150kg (the scale at my home went to 150 and I was too heavy for it) and now I weigh 100 KG. All this thanks to complete abstinence from junk food and a lower carb diet (not completely low carb, I balanced all 3 macronutrients.)

    Just recently after about 11 months I began to introduce cheat meals or days into my diet and I forgot how much I love eating healthy and nutritious food.

    There are some people who are an advocate of fitting ‘unhealthy’ food into your daily calorie total but I am not a female who can eat 2-3 cookies a day and be satisfied. I need to eat the whole thing as well. But I do not lose control or something. I just plan what I will be ‘cheating’ on now for next week and so on.

    One thing I have noticed is that many people eat out of boredom… I recommend you to start lifting weights as it has multiple health benefits (psychological benefits as well.)

  2. Complete abstinence is the only way for me. I know me (we’ve gotten in touch over these last 8 months), I can’t have “just one” of anything! Carrots are one thing, but bread-y stuff, nope can’t do it.

  3. In my case, I HAVE to abstain, regardless of the comments of others when I say no to the tantalizing but deadly to me, “goodies” they offer. Otherwise I live with the cycle of cravings, binges, relapses, weight gain and feeling miserable!

  4. I don’t think complete abstinence is too extreme as long as it isn’t causing chronic stress.

    I follow a lot of nutrition blogs like yours as well as strength and conditioning blogs. One thing that a few SC coaches do is get other SC coaches to program for them. This helps them to better identify strength and weaknesses and customize programs with the goal of getting better results/ less injuries.

    With that said have you considered seeking the help of a fellow nutrition professional or functional medicine practitioner? Someone who shares the same philosophy and is qualified to test and identify any underlying problems. From what i understand neurotransmitters, hormones, and gut bacteria can all be out of whack in people experiencing mental illness. Having someone help you address that could potentially be more of a long term solution??

    • I’ve tried pretty much everything, including a psychologist and an appetite suppressing drug from a doctor. I think this is the right way for me, been going strong now since September 3rd :)

  5. Well you have gotten the hardest part out of the way. You have admitted you have a problem and are dealing with it. Most people are in denial about their problems and can’t even get that first step out of the way. Complete abstinence is definitely not too extreme. It doesn’t matter if its junk food, alcohol or drugs. You showed you have a lot of character by picking yourself up after falling off the wagon and trying again. At least your addiction doesn’t negatively impact society. Some people (corporations) are addicted to power, profit and control and their addictions get rewarded despite the negative impact they may have on society.

  6. Tomorrow will be the start of the 9th week I’ve been low carb. and I am afraid to cheat! The worst thing I have are Atkins bars. I walk through the supermarket and buy what I need, sometimes as a force of habit, I look at something and start to think, yum, but its more a thought than a desire. I don’t find myself wanting to buy it or eat it. I plan to keep it that way! I have thought about what to order if I go out to eat, and know ahead of time what to ask for. Will have to apply the same principle to eating at a friend or relative’s house! Luckily, for Christmas now days we usually have a buffet, its easier to pick and choose…and people don’t notice so much what you are eating!

  7. you know, I actually don’t really have an addictive personaliy when it comes to sweets though. I just ate a cookie yesterday but it hasn’t bothered me, I don’t mind eating a sweet every now and then. I have cravings and sometimes I indulge, but I’m pretty good at not over-indulging. I don’t binge and I have never understood how ppl binge :P I think it makes you suffer to abstain so much you should let yourself cheat. Because really, I usually find its not as great as I thought and just stop..Just don’t do cheat MEALS and cheat DAYS. I think THATS a really bad idea. When I say cheat I mean maybe a bite of something sweet or a single pastry, I would never incorporate carbs into my meals thats when I’ll eat the most carbs.

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