Binge Eating Therapy

Candy Corns, Pumpkin Pie, Pumpkin Spice Latte’s, Mini Candy Bars– What do I do?

Fall is the time for the beloved comfort foods as well as the start of the bingeing season. First comes Halloween with candy everywhere, then of course Thanksgiving, the national bingeing holiday and then there’s the whole month of December with gift baskets, alcohol, egg nog, and chocolate treats everywhere and no foreseeable end to the constantly filled candy bowl in the office.

There are two challenging issues here, the first and most obvious is the abundant candy everywhere and the sales on bite sized treats in every store that you walk into. The next issue is the seasonal treats that can be so tempting such as Starbucks holiday lines of latte’s,  Safeway’s hot pumpkin pies, Walgreen’s candy corns on sale, caramel apples at county fairs, and all those other autumn treats.  The idea that these treats are limited to only a few weeks a year can really activate black and white thinking. The belief might be, “oh no, Starbucks only has their Candy Corn Latte’s until Halloween, I just have to make sure that I get it now!” When in reality,  you never even drink latte’s.

So how do you deal with this?

1.)Ask yourself if you really want it or if the temptation is because it’s new, novel and going away soon. Really understand why it is that you are going toward that food.

2.)Ask yourself it will set up a binge if you eat it.

3.)Be brutally honest with yourself. If you know in advanced that it will set up a binge, tell yourself that you know that this will be back next year and that this year, you’re focusing on recovery. Next year perhaps you will be able to eat it in a healthy manner. After all, your long term health and recovery are more important than the instant gratification of a new flavored latte, which will of course turn into something that feels awful. You are not restricting food here, you are making a choice not to start on something that will probably trigger a binge. You know yourself well enough to know whether or not this will turn into an all out binge.

4.)If you don’t think that it will set up a binge, allow yourself to have some of these foods in limited quantities. For instance, decide to let yourself have that latte’, but rather than a tall or a Grande, order the short. If you want a pumpkin pie, don’t buy a whole pumpkin pie yourself, see if you can buy a slice and save it for desert after dinner. Or you can even bake a pumpkin pie and have people over for it.

5.)If you find that you want to binge on mini candy bars and Halloween candy, make sure that you don’t buy it to give out to kids. Don’t worry, MARS and Nestle will do fine without your support this year. My mom used to give out little Halloween goody bags with boxes of raisins, spooky pencils and pennies on Halloween. It was totally embarrassing for me as the kids would look in there bags and say, “Oh Man! Raisins and pennies!” Back then I thought that she was forcing her health food paradigm on the world, but now I understand why she did it. She didn’t want the binge food on hand and she didn’t feel right contributing to unhealthy eating. A lot of it for her was about integrity as well as protecting herself and her family from junk food.

Other alternatives to candy for Halloween are:

– Halloween Toys or Stickers

-Halloween Pencils

-You can make a bunch of oragami fortune tellers with your kids or your friends or your parents or nieces and nephew and give those out.

-Glow Sticks and Glow Jewelry!

Or, if you can’t forgo the candy, try these more healthy treats.

For many people, buying Halloween candy can trigger a binge. Plenty of people wind up with tons of leftovers that they wind up bingeing on. Kids get enough candy from your neighbors, it’s okay to take care of yourself by giving kids something different and fun.

6.)If you find yourself tempted in stores where all the Halloween candy is out, make sure that you have a plan before you go into those stores. Make a list of what you need to buy and leave your ATM card at home. Bring cash so that you can’t compulsively grab something. And don’t go shopping hungry! Not even at Walgreens.

7.)If there is candy sitting in bowls at the office, again, if it won’t trigger a binge and you know that you can eat one or two pieces in a healthy way, then allow yourself a set number in a day (like two pieces of candy). Don’t eat them standing up by the bowl, bring them back to your desk. Eat one and save the other for later. Make sure that you don’t substitute candy for lunch. If you think that eating that candy will trigger a binge, stay away from the bowl. Have a plan and be mindful when you have to pass that bowl.  Keep a bowl of non binge foods available for yourself such as a bowl of apples or almonds or oranges. If the bowl is haunting you, calling to you throughout the day, try to talk back to it. Tell it that you’re trying to prevent yourself from bingeing and the instant gratification that you will get from a Hershey’s Kiss won’t be worth the binge that you will have that night, that you’d rather have long term recovery and this season, even a small kiss can be dangerous. It doesn’t mean this is forever, but for right now, you are giving yourself some space in order to keep the bingeing at bay.

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