When you’re stuck in the binge-restrict cycle, there’s nothing scarier than a Halloween-sized bag of candy. YIKES!
But you got this! If you like the candy, then eat the candy. If you don’t like the candy, then don’t eat the candy. It’s that easy!
…okay, it’s not that easy. It’s actually really complicated, because we’ve been taught our whole lives that some foods are bad bad bad, and that we are bad for wanting those foods. So we limit and restrict ourselves from the stuff we like, creating an unbearable, irresistible pull that builds and builds and builds into an inevitable binge.
But guys, candy isn’t bad! And YOU aren’t bad for liking candy. Applying moral values of goodness and badness to food is a sign of disordered eating and an old standby from the diet-guilt playbook.
To survive the Halloween candy in your house with your sanity intact and binge behavior in the rearview mirror, you’ll need to actively change the self-talk that happens in your head around “bad” foods. Here are a few tricks to help you flip the script towards a gentler approach and an intuitive eating mindset:
- Eliminate scarcity. Instead of: “This candy only appears in my house once a year. This is an earth-shattering event. Who knows when I will have candy again because candy is bad and I am bad and can’t control myself around candy.” Try —> “Candy is available whenever I want candy. I am always allowed to go to the store and pick out whatever candy I am in the mood for. The real question is: Do I want this candy right now? If so: ENJOY!”
- Neutralize negativity. Instead of: “You are a pig. You always do this. You can never just be normal. Why can’t you ever just eat like a normal person.” Try —> “Feeling out of control around food is my body’s primal response to being deprived of food over the course of many years. It is not a failing of willpower. Eating whatever I want right now in this moment is a productive and effective step toward curing binge eating behaviors.”
- Don’t watch your weight. Instead of: “I will gain weight if I eat this candy!!!” Try: —> “My weight is none of my business. That’s why I will take my bathroom scale and beat it like a piñata and never weigh myself again.”
- Relinquish control. Instead of: “Once I start I can’t stop myself. I always lose control around candy.” Try —> “Control around food is a fallacy and only reinforces restriction-induced overeating. I have permission to eat until I don’t want to eat anymore, 10000% guilt-free. It is all part of overcoming the binge-eating cycle.”
- Reject the diet mentality. Instead of: “Eating candy is a sign of weakness! I can’t get off track! I must avoid temptation!” Try —> “The diet industry makes zillions of dollars inflicting guilt upon dieters, and their language is holding me prisoner to a life of yo-yo dieting. The ideas of weakness, staying ‘on track,’ and resisting ‘temptation’ are all created and propagated by diet marketers, and I don’t need to listen anymore. The only thing I need to listen to are the messages from my own body.”
I know it sounds nuts, but this is important: A binge is only a binge if you consider it a binge. No matter how much you eat, it really depends on what you are thinking and feeling while you eat. Just enjoy the candy until you’re not enjoying it anymore — no guilt, no judgment. What the worst thing that can happen? A stomachache.
Every dieter worries that once you start eating, you’ll just never stop. But a stomachache will be there to ensure that you always, always do. It’s your body’s way of telling you “Oookay, that’s a wrap. Maybe we went a little too far this time, and it doesn’t feel so great.” We’ve always relied on diets to make us stop eating at artificially and arbitrarily determined points, leaving us feeling unsatisfied and incapable. But if we give our bodies the chance, they are truly capable of letting us know when to stop — even with your favorite candy in the whole entire world.