• High fat creamy things are my trigger foods. It’s all or nothing for me on those items so I know to stay away from them or plan to eat the food. When I’m at the store I start to feel sorry for myself because I want things I shouldn’t have, I “treat” myself with a new magazine or nail polish instead. Then I have something to entertain myself with later to stave off snacking then too!

    From Jess
    September 7, 2011

  • In response to Jess’s comment– Yes, that all or nothing thinking is what often gets us in trouble. When we recognize it, we can learn to make different choices. I love your suggetions for other ways to treat yourself. Thanks for sharing!

    From Linda Hopkins
    September 8, 2011

How I stopped my ice cream binge.

Linda_Hopkins_wellness coaching

I have a confession to make. Last Saturday, as I was strolling down the ice cream aisle at the local Harris Teeter, a carton of Blue Bunny white chocolate macadamia nut cookie ice cream called my name. “Pssst, Linda. Over here!” And before I could get around the corner, it had hopped right into my cart.

There was a time in my life when I knew that I couldn’t buy whole cartons of ice cream. I would buy individual ice cream sandwiches or bars so that I could “eat the whole thing” without consuming several thousand calories in one weak moment. But it’s been many years since I even thought about going on an all-out binge, so I figured I was pretty safe.

The ice cream lived happily in my freezer for a few days. I had a small serving on Sunday and another Monday. But by about Wednesday, I could hear it beckoning me at all hours of the day. “One scoop won’t hurt,” the voice said. And the voice of reason replied, “I need to put it in a dish so I won’t be tempted to overeat (advice I frequently share with clients at Hilton Head Health). So I had a small dish and went back to work.

By the next afternoon, the voice got louder. I had my single dish, and then it shouted: “You worked out this morning; you’ve had a hard day; you can eat a light dinner and exercise extra tomorrow; a little bit more won’t hurt….” I finally caved in, snatched it out of the freezer and started eating it right out of the carton—shoveling it in as fast as it could slide down my throat, digging out the special bites of cookie dough and leveling off the top as I went. That’s when the voice of reason said, “STOP!”

Since I often coach clients on what to do when they find themselves in binge mode, I knew exactly what was necessary. First, I had to talk back to my inner gremlin (the subconscious saboteur) and tell him to go away. Then I had to dump the rest of the ice cream down the garbage disposal. Incidentally, I will not buy another carton of this particular ice cream. It’s too dangerous. Had it been chocolate, strawberry, peach or any other flavor, I could have controlled myself. But there is something about cookie dough… From now on, I will limit my consumption of cookie dough ice cream to an occasional single serving in a restaurant or ice cream parlor.

We all have weaknesses. Certain foods call our names, and we sometimes have difficulty hushing those voices in our heads. This is not to say that we can never have this food again. (That would make it all the more tempting.) But there is a whole lot of power in recognizing the fact that certain foods, when conveniently available, can potentially cause trouble.

Is throwing away food a sin or a waste? I don’t think so, and here’s why. If I had continued to eat that ice cream, chances are I would have finished it off in one sitting (or in this case, standing in front of the freezer). My eating it would not feed the starving children in third world countries or helped save the planet. You see, when we eat food our bodies don’t need for fuel. Outside of the money we spend on that food, the real waste is the time and energy spent eating it, not to mention the energy wasted carrying it around on our bodies—perhaps for the rest of our lives.

I frequently ask clients to identify the emotions that trigger their desire to binge. So I asked the same of myself. The emotions that led to my overwhelming desire for ice cream were stress, anxiety and fear, based on a heavy workload and a tight deadline. Intellectually, I know that stuffing my face with ice cream does not get my work done, but sometimes “head hunger” or “heart hunger,” as the case may be, can override our intelligence, judgment and reason. What I really needed was to take a deep breath, and get up from my desk and move around for a few minutes—a mental and physical break.

The story has a happy ending. I took a few minutes to stretch my muscles and relax my mind, then buckled down, finished my day’s work, ate a healthy dinner and felt a whole lot better knowing that I didn’t undermine my physical or emotional health for a senseless binge that I would surely live to regret. Moral: One carton of ice cream down the drain: $4.99. Lesson learned: priceless.

What’s your trigger food? What emotions drive you to binge? What do you really need? Please share your comments.

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