Today we’re talking about something very current that’s going on. I call it the holiday trifecta- the candy addition.
And every year I talk about in my blog on my podcast with all my clients, about what I call the holiday trifecta. And that is the time between October the first and December the 31st.
Where we’re inundated with food that is different than what we have during the rest of the year. And what I noticed is that there’s a lot of concern about overeating, concern about emotionally eating concern about gaining weight. And this all leads to dieting in January. It’s like the setup the three-month setup of overeating.
And sometimes we’ll go into this time-period with kind of an abandon of Oh, what the heck, I’m just going to eat all I want to eat and then come January one, I’m going to die it and lose all the weight or
I’m going to regain quote unquote control over food then. And I want to challenge you to think about this all differentl
There are these strong messages that you can’t control food.
Those messages show up during the holiday time because it feels it can feel kind of out of control. And then the message come January one the way you are supposed to control it then is to diet. We have that binge diet cycle going on, that’s hard to get out of, we also can get the message that we can’t stop eating once we start, which reinforces the idea that we shouldn’t even start eating.
And then if we do eat, if we do eat these things that we think are bad, that then we’re feeling out of control because we shouldn’t be eating it in the first place. Also, we know that eating overeating is super pleasurable.
And it’s been the way that we’ve coped with different issues in life. It’s the way that we react, if we’re happy, if we’re excited, if we’re sad, if we’re lonely. If we’re angry that eating helps us cope that just is something that’s happening. These are things that happen over and over, and they show up a lot during the holiday time.
The other thing that happens during the holidays and that I really want you to think about is that the holidays are rife with special foods, the special foods that come out once a year. So what happens right now we’re just done with Halloween and what showed up was candy, a lot of candy.
I don’t know about you, but it was really interesting that my daughter came home with a lot of candy it seemed that this year we’re one year out from the pandemic starting that there was more people giving out candy and giving out a lot of candy and big pieces of candy. I’m so surprised at how much candy she came home with.
And how many people were out trick or treating and how much candy was out there. This is that once a year thing where we have all you know we buy the bags and bags of the little candies all the little candies We like or maybe we buy little candies that we don’t like because we’re afraid to have them in the house.
But this is the one time of year that candy consumption is huge and socially acceptable that we, we just allow binging on candy on Halloween, it’s very, it’s very normal to have that happen. The other thing that happens once a year is the special foods come out, there’s a lot of places that have special types of food, it’s the once-a-year thing.
There’s a big lookout one is pumpkin spice latte, which Starbucks puts it out at a special time every year. And it’s a short period of time. If you want to have it, it’s one of those foods that’s going to go away at Starbucks. It’s brilliant marketing because it gets you wanting this thing. And then you might have a lot of it because you know, you’re going to be deprived of it for the rest of the year, that kind of idea of it’s a restriction for the rest of the year. So when it comes out, you might tend to binge these things like a pumpkin spice latte.
Because come I don’t know what time of year, it’s going to be gone soon enough, because they’ve just brought out the Christmas, the Christmas recipes, so it’s gone, and then you can’t have it. You’re going to want it more because it’s in such limited supply.
There are other special foods that we bring out this time of year, the cookies, the holiday cookies, the cheesecake, Turkey, gravy, ham rich foods, lots of things that we don’t have every year. We binge on them because we don’t allow ourselves to have them the rest of the year.
When we allow ourselves the holiday foods throughout the year, they lose their hold on us to binge them.
We know through the research about habituation is that the more we’re allowed to have these foods, that the less they have control over us. So literally if we allowed ourselves to have candy, Turkey cheesecake, if we’re exposed to them more or had access to them more often throughout the year, they wouldn’t have such a draw for us this one time of year, and then we wouldn’t be binging on them because they wouldn’t have that big of a grasp on us.
It’s interesting that at a local fitness center, one of the things they’re doing in the month of November is a “no candy” November. You win a prize at the end of the month if you don’t eat candy. And I thought that was interesting because that once again goes to the idea of restricting ourselves from certain foods because we can’t control them.
If we are in this kind of group setting, then we’re buying into the idea that I need to restrict candy because I can be out of control with it. And it’s interesting to me that so many people buy into that mindset of “I need to eliminate a type of food, because I can be out of control with it.” They didn’t say, let’s eliminate soup or let’s eliminate salad or let’s eliminate apples, because there’s good/bad concept associated with candy.
Consider and wonder, if you are falling into that kind of mindset of, “I shouldn’t have any more candy.”
There was trick or treating the other day and now there’s all this leftover candy. I know people that will sell it to the dentist, who then send it to troops overseas, which is kind of a nice thing to do, because they deserve as much a sweet treat as anybody. But there’s also this idea that you need to get rid of the candy because you can be out of control with candy.
Maybe what makes you out of control with candy is that you deny yourself of it.
It’s just a different way of looking at it. And it becomes more in alignment with the intuitive eating idea that we talk about here. We know from research is that we binge that there’s a diet/binge cycle that happens.
Here is a way to look at what happens:
Diet/Restrict leads to Binge leads to Shame leads back to Diet/Restrict: it is a cycle
Think of this cycle as a circle where you start dieting/restricting, because you do not like how your weight or how much you have been eating. Then, at some point, you binge, because you have been deprived. This binging leads to feeling shame (I have myself, I am mad at myself, or I am afraid I will gain weight).
The only way we know how to deal with the shame is to go back and diet/restrict. We think this will solve the problem. And we start the cycle all over again. What I want to do is help you get out of that dieting binge cycle, because it just is a circle, it goes around and around and around.
It and it’s becoming harder and harder to notice what are diets because they’re touted as being healthy a healthy lifestyle, a healthy way of eating. Generally, those are code words for diet and restriction.
The other thing we know about binging and how to start noticing when this is going on is that we start to look at food is good and bad. This is good food, this is bad food, this is what I should eat, this is what I shouldn’t eat.
There’s a right food, there’s a wrong food, there’s healthy food, there’s unhealthy food.
And we, we think that if we eat these certain foods, that the outcome will be that we’ll get fat. You think you must avoid this bad food, because you’ll get fat from it. Or I’ll feel bad about my body, or I’ll be out of control, and I can’t stop. We tend to want to keep that bad food out of our out of being in front of us.
I was just so earlier just talked about that fitness center that’s having a contest to not eat candy all month. That is because they’re calling candy, bad food. And what we know is that when we start calling it bad, ultimately, we’ll want to have it because calling it bad and not having it is a form of restriction. And we’re ultimately going to have it.
What I look to do with people is to help develop this idea of peace with food and this way of being a peace with food. And it’s very, very doable. So, let’s talk now about what we can do to get off of this holiday trifecta of candy being a bad food where we can’t have it or we can’t have it around. What I want you to do is to:
- Start being curious. If you want to have candy right now, wonder what’s going on? Am I really wanting it and I responding because I’ve not allowed myself to have it before? Is it that I’m scared about it? Am I concerned about having it? Am I sneaking it and trying to not let others know that I’m eating and begin to have this kind of inquisitive style about what you are thinking of eating most, especially when it is the “bad food”, the “wrong food”, the “unhealthy food”, the “fattening food?” There is this idea that our society has put forth that that we believe then gets dealt with come January one through a diet. And if it really got dealt with, we’d never have to go on a diet on January when again. The diet would be done. That’s not how it works, because the cycle keeps being a repetitive cycle. One thing to do is to be curious to help you get off of that diet/binge/shame cycle. Ask yourself a lot of questions.
- Prioritize having pleasurable food, eating foods that you love, eating foods that are yummy, tastes good and feel lovely in your mouth. eating what you love, can be scary. I know you are concerned that you will get out of control. If you’re allowing yourself to eat pleasurable food, you’re not going to be binging, because you’re allowing yourself to have pleasurable food. People will think that if they eat pleasurable food, that it means that every day they’re going to have whatever sweet things or cookies or whatever thing that they think they binge on all the time. And what we know through our research on habituation is that the more you’re exposed to the food and allowed to have it, if you want it, the less you want it, because it will be one of the many types of food you can have throughout the day. Then it is not that big of a deal.
The holidays can be a time of peace and joy, especially with food. If that does not seem possible you can join us in our Emotional Eating Solutions Self Study Course. It is super affordable and available now.
Kim McLaughlin, MA is a Counselor, Speaker, Podcaster, and Inspirational Coach who specializes in working with people who suffer from binge eating and emotional eating. She is a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor. She is the author of the book Feed Your Soul Nourish Your Life! A Six Step System to Peace with Food and the Amazon #1 Best Selling book Discovery Your Inspiration.
You can find Kim on her podcast Feed Your Soul with Kim and you can find it on all podcast platforms.