Karen's Blogs

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Keeping Favorite Foods in the House without Overeating


Why would anyone buy a whole bunch of their favorite foods and then eat them all at once? The answer is not that they were famished or afraid the food would go bad. It’s because they either feared that the food wouldn’t be available when they did want it or figured that they’d eventually eat it all anyway, so why not do it in one fell swoop. I truly hope that none of these reasons sound rational to you because they’re not.

Dysregulated eaters are faced with a conundrum. On the one hand, intuitive eating therapists encourage them to keep favorite foods in the house to learn how to manage their urge to eat them simply because they’re there. On the other hand, every fiber of their bodies is screaming, “No, no, you have no idea what having them all within reach will do to me. Don’t you understand I’ll eat up every last morsel and then be miserable?” 

Eating disorders therapists understand your plight totally and completely. I do, especially, because I had to go through this make-peace-with-food process to fully recover from my binge-eating disorder and have been teaching others how to do so for three decades. You don’t have to learn how. You can keep challenging foods out of reach and this may keep them out of mouth, if not out of mind. You can live in fear of them for the rest of your life. Making peace with them is entirely your decision.

However, if you want to fully recover and become a “normal” eater, you will have to pick up the gauntlet, put on your big girl or boy pants, and screw up your courage. Specifically, you’ll need to feel brave and trust the well-worn path that others have walked. The process works if you patiently persist to its ending, which is knowing that the food is there and that you can eat it or not. One of my clients is doing just that— trying to keep tempting foods in the house, she was thrilled when she ate half a beloved brownie, left it on the counter overnight and didn’t finish it until the following evening. 

You grow stronger urge by urge, bite by bite, decision by decision. Rather than gobble up all the food now because you couldn’t in childhood (due to poverty or parents who restricted your food intake for fear you’d gain weight), you remind yourself that food is 100% available to you. You tell yourself there’s no one to snatch it away. You think about all the glorious meals you’ll enjoy in the future, all the delicious foods you will eat when you’re hungry enough and how small amounts will totally satisfy you. You find peace in saying no to large amounts of food and find smaller quantities deliciously divine. You recognize that the impulse to overeat when you’re not hungry is from the past, from ancient history, like light from a star that died billions of years ago. 



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