In yesterday’s post, I asked people to send me specific questions that they want addressed in the December series. I got some great questions so I’ll be doing my best to answer over the next few days.
Dear Leora, I am at work, and there is food EVERYWHERE. It’s the holidays, and people have brought in cheesecake, toffee, chocolates, brownies, cookies and cupcakes. I have put on weight because I cannot resist this food, and I feel ugly and terrible about myself. Do you have any advice for *not* eating this stuff?
This is a big one at the holidays. People bring in baked goods and treats all the time. The office is full of sugary treats that make people happy- unless they have a dysfunctional relationship with food. Then it makes work a living hell.
The way I work with clients around this specific issue is to help them create a healthy boundary around the holiday treats.
For example. Someone might tell themselves that their healthy number for holiday treats is two each day. So what they can then do is plan what time they are going to go into the kitchen to get the treat. Perhaps it’s after lunch at 1pm. At 1pm, they walk into the kitchen or staff room and they take a look around and figure out what it is that they really, really want. They take that on their planned break, sit down and allow themselves to enjoy it. To taste it, to chew it to swallow it. Perhaps they enjoy that treat with a cup of tea and some music for a five minute break. Let yourself be satisfied and enjoy. Then, at 4pm, they can do it once more. Then you know that the next day you will have two treats again, so you don’t have to worry about getting everything in all at once. You have to figure out what your number is (maybe it’s one treat a day, maybe it’s three), but it’s important to plan ahead so that you don’t become black and white about it.
If you for instance say that you aren’t going to have any and then you go into the kitchen and accidentally grab something– it might set you into a sneak eating, bingey tailspin.
If you absolutely feel unable to make reasonable boundaries around the holiday treats this year, then you might instead decide to avoid the places where said food lives. For instance– “Bob has candy canes on his desk, can’t go talk to Bob today…” or “No kitchen today, gotta leave the office and get my coffee from Starbucks…”
I do suggest that if you are able to though, if food is honestly everywhere, it would be a relief for you to allow yourself to eat a little bit of it in a controlled and moderate way rather than telling yourself no and then feeling out of control with it.
It’s often in the restriction and the resistance where we find the most stress. Giving an allowance will reduce that stress.
Another practical tactic is to keep a big bowl of apples on your desk. Here is why, for most people apples are not a binge food. [But If apples are your binge food then read no more. Though in my two decades of treating Binge Eating Disorder I’ve never seen apples be anyone’s binge food, so I’d be surprised. If apples are your binge food, you have to reply and let me know]. But I digress… the bowl of apples on your desk will be easy for you to grab, so if there is binge food all around you and it’s unavoidable, having a non-binge food at your disposal and easily reachable will help you to fend off a binge.
Excess on occasion is exhilarating. It prevents moderation from acquiring the deadening effect of a habit.-William Somerset Maugham
I love this humorous quote by Somerset Maugham because it reminds us that sometimes “messing up” is just human. And that it’s the way that we react to the excess that will hurt us more than the excess. For instance, I ate a brownie- I’m so stressed out about it that I’m going to binge on more brownies- rather than- oh, I ate a brownie– it was great- Now I’m going to relax in a nice tube tonight and watch The Gilmore Girls.