BOOM! This is how Jeannette conquered trigger foods

Nov 17, 2019

It all started back in the nineties ...

When she was seven, Jeannette found herself in a situation that any seven-year-old would find rather glorious. She was all alone with a full bag of Combos.

If you've never had Combos, they're salty, crunchy, delicious, cheese-stuffed pretzels.

The bag says "baked," which means they're good for you, right?

Mmmm, delicious. It didn't take long to finish the whole bag off.

The next thing Jeannette knew, her mother called out her name with that voice that meant trouble. The lecture started, and it didn't take long to feel a deep shame for eating the Combos. Jeannette learned that calories are horrible, bad, bad, things.

The big lesson, though, was never to get caught eating "too much" ever again.  Jeannette learned she had to hide it.

Fast forward to a few years ago ...

As an adult, Jeannette couldn't be around pizza (and a few other foods) without eating all of it.

It went through three stages.

  1. She bit into her first slice, and the pizza tasted delicious. The first couple of slices were amazing and immensely pleasurable.
  2. After the third slice, something would shift. She started to lose the taste for it. She was driven to keep eating but in an almost automatic way. About halfway through the pizza, it wasn't enjoyable anymore.
  3. The last stage was just about finishing. Stuffing herself in a punitive way. She didn't want to stop eating, even if it hurt.

The whole time, her inner toddler was battling her inner adult.

The inner toddler wanted to rebel. It's so good! She wants it all now!

The adult was aware and argued, very rationally, that this was not going to feel good. The shame, the guilt, and the physical pain were going to be rough.

Her inner adult never stood a chance.

And there was a payoff.

Jeannette was in med school, and this was her tried-and-true way to get through the tough study sessions. 

She would get incredibly stressed, and this was her one coping mechanism. And it worked.

It did make studying more doable. It did reduce the stress in the short term.

And as counterintuitive as it sounds, it was a way to be nice to herself when there weren't many things she could control.

But the binge hangover always reminded her of how this short-term reward had a long-term consequence. 

It had to change.

The first strategy is the most common one. Jeannette decided to be ultra-aware and to stop eating pizza this way. Guess how long that lasted?

Yeah, it didn't work -- not even once.

So she did what everyone says to do ... avoid her trigger foods at all costs.

Never have pizza, chips, french onion dip, and a few others, in the house.

And that worked. Sort of. Kind of.

OK, not really.

She started to find out that when the stress got really bad, trigger foods would magically appear in her grocery cart.

Of course, the rest of the world didn't get the memo to keep trigger foods away at parties and work functions and being a shut-in wasn't an option.

When life was good, it wasn't too hard to avoid eating way too much.

When life got hard, the old behaviors slipped back in.

"White knuckling" only got her so far. Deciding to avoid her triggers completely only got her so far.

No matter how many fantastic mental and emotional coping mechanisms she had, it just didn't take her quite all the way.

But she didn't stay stuck ...

Instead of continuing to try what had never worked (which is what most people do), Jeannette started to read about the problem and to learn about solutions.

One thing really clicked.

Restriction doesn't work at the brain level. If you don't satiate the brain, it will work against you. 

But if we satiate the brain, it will want what is good for us, most of the time.

Another thing that really clicked was the advice to quit fighting her body and come at the problem from a place of caring.

The strategy wasn't to pretend that pizza was going to disappear from the world. (It won't.)

And it wasn't to be mean to herself (which just caused echoes of that seven-year-old being yelled at for eating too many Combos).

It was to eat pizza, and the other things she craved, but with a different mindset.

She decided to truly care for her body. To eat what she craved so that she could satisfy that craving, but stop when it was time because that's the caring thing to do.

For a few days, she craved mac and cheese, so she ate mac and cheese.

Not in the old way, like she was punishing herself for her craving. She ate it because it is what she wanted to eat.

When eating what was once a "scary" trigger food, Jeannette would reassure her angry, scared inner toddler that she was safe. That she didn't have to restrict anymore. And that it was okay to let go of the guilt and shame.

After a week of eating mac and cheese every day, it lost its power. She realized that she could have it anytime. And that, when you give yourself the space to really pay attention, it doesn't even taste all that amazing.

Jeannette repeated that process for each of her trigger foods. Each time it was the same. When she came from a place of caring, knowing that she could have these foods whenever she wanted and that it was okay, they lost their power.

Flash forward to today ...

Now Jeannette eats all the foods. They satisfy her, without needing to eat too much.

But the best part is something that is absent. She's lost the relentless focus on food. The "white-knuckling" it. The guilt and shame. All of that is replaced by confidence and joy.

Jeannette is a client of ours. One on one, we've been helping people kick binge eating to the curb, throw its stuff out the window, and change the locks. 

There are hundreds (maybe thousands) of folks in our community who want help breaking a pattern like Jeanette's, but they need to wait until we have openings available.

So we went back into planning mode and carved out an introduction to the program that will let you get started any time, and start to take the steps toward conquering trigger foods and self-destructive overeating ... for good.

We're calling it the Breaking Up with Binge Eating Cease Fire, and if you're looking for a better way to fix your relationship with food, we think you'll find this one truly different.

Check out the Breaking Up with Binge Eating Cease-Fire

Jeannette healed her relationship with food, and you can, too. The path that most people take won't get you there, but here is a way.

 

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