Do you find yourself avoiding your favorite foods out of fear you will binge eat them? If you do, please know that you are not alone.
For years I went through cycles of restricting and binge eating. I tried so hard to avoid my triggers, but finally I realized that if I want to be able to enjoy my favorite foods, I need to stop avoiding them.
“Exposing myself to trigger foods MORE often, rather than avoiding them was a total game changer for me.“
I know what you’re probably thinking….
“That’s not going to work for me.”
“I have to avoid my trigger foods, or I’ll totally binge on them.”
“I avoid buying them or being around them so I don’t binge on them.”
Let me ask you this… what happens when you eventually are around a trigger food?…
I know this can seem scary. At first, when I was in a situation where I was around my trigger food, I was worried I’d lose control and slip into binge mode, and sometimes I did. But rather than beat myself up, I learned from the experience.
Eventually it figured out that these foods are not in short supply and the draw toward them dissipated to a more normal level over time.
Why Avoiding my Trigger Foods was a Bad Idea…
1) It set me up for an eventual binge. Avoiding a trigger food forever was impossible for me. Once I finally had it, I just couldn’t help but go overboard. Not only did I feel deprived from avoiding it for so long, I was also telling myself I wasn’t going to eat it again for a while.
I’d just eat more in the moment because I knew tomorrow I was “starting over” and wouldn’t be able to have it. I was engaging in what I like to call “future restriction”. And as I’ve said many times before, restriction almost always leads to overeating, whether it be now or in the future.
2) It prevented me from enjoying my favorite foods. Even though I would eventually eat them, I didn’t really enjoy them.
We usually think of eating as relating primarily to our sense of taste, however, our other senses can join the pleasure party as well! Look for ways to use your other senses to make mealtimes enjoyable.
Your emotions are also important in the effort to take enjoyment in food. Consider which positive emotions you connect to eating and why.
Eating your favorite foods until physically uncomfortable, and with a side of guilt and shame, isn’t really enjoying them at all. So I suggest trying to focus on slowing down, savoring your favorite foods and ditching the guilt.
3) Most importantly, avoiding my trigger foods didn’t allow me the opportunity to learn how to eat my favorite foods in moderation. I understand why I was avoiding my favorite foods. I was fearful of them and the guilt and shame I’d feel after eating them.
Eventually I realized I had to work on my emotions and compulsive behaviors towards these foods if I was going to ever be able to feel normal around food. The only way to work on my emotions and behaviors was to actually put myself in a vulnerable situation (eating trigger foods) to be able to problem solve and find solutions.
So I want you to keep in mind how avoiding your trigger foods might be keeping you stuck binging on them.
What fears come up for you when you think about allowing yourself permission to eat your trigger foods on a regular basis?
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