Facing our Food Fears One at a Time…

Read Time:3 Minute, 24 Second

Facing our Food Fears
One at a Time…

Sometimes it feels like climbing Mount Everest or extreme scuba diving… facing our fear foods can be scary business. Why would I want to eat peanut butter again when I finished the whole jar last time? How can I eat pizza when it’s so “fattening?” And a candy bar, ice cream, my favorite cookies? Next to impossible. Many people with eating disorders have a large list of fear foods. They have differing reasons to fear what they consider “bad” or “scary” foods: a past experience of bingeing, a belief that a “non-diet” food will induce weight gain, or a message received about that food.

One interesting patient struggling with obesity shared her story with me. She had successfully lost 100 pounds by eating three meals each day—and one candy bar every day for a snack. She felt so satisfied having this treat that she was no longer bingeing. When her food sponsor chastised her for including the treats, the patient cut out the candy bars out of guilt and fear. I’m sure you’ve already guessed what happened next. She began bingeing again and regained the 100 pounds, plus more. This story demonstrates how restricting fear foods can cause many problems. Also, over-reliance on food advice from others can be troublesome, leading to the old “good food/bad food” trap.

The problem with completely avoiding fear foods is mainly two-fold. First, we avoid these foods until we cave in and binge on them. Second, some of us continue to add to our list of fear foods until there are few foods we consider safe. Even though it is extreme, I once treated a severe anorexic who felt guilty licking a postage stamp because of possible caloric intake.

We know that restriction leads to either bingeing or further restrictive eating. But sometimes it just feels too scary to eat our fear foods. What should you or your loved one do? My advice is to incorporate your fear foods slowly, one by one, with the help of a nutrition therapist. For instance, if you love ice cream, purchase a single serving, even from a gourmet ice cream store, and bring this home to try. That way you won’t be setting yourself up to binge.

After bringing home your binge food, the next step is to eat it in a normal way. In the case of ice cream, eat it for dessert after a moderate dinner. Enjoy your ice cream without distractions, such as television or reading material. Music is fine as long as it is relaxing. Fully taste the ice cream, letting it melt in your mouth. Taste it on both sides of your mouth and tongue, fully enjoying its texture and salty, creamy, sweet flavor. If it was ice cream you truly wanted, then fully experience the ice cream! This is an incredibly powerful tool for recovery.

Slowly add one fear food at a time, eating it in moderation and with mindfulness. If you don’t feel comfortable eating your fear food in public then eat it by yourself. But eventually you will want to practice eating this food in front of others. Many people will restrict with friends and family, only to binge when alone. Or the opposite can occur—a person will eat ice cream in front of others so as not to feel different. Then when the person is alone, he or she will feel guilty and restrict for the next day, which then leads to a new cycle of bingeing, purging, or other self destructive behaviors. You can avoid these recovery traps by eventually striving to eat your feared foods by yourself and around other people. This is true recovery!

By Sheri Weitz, RD
Reprinted with permission from Eating Disorders Recovery Today
Fall 2007 Volume 5, Number 4
©2007 Gürze Books

About the Author

Sheri Weitz, RD, is a Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Therapist with almost two decades experience treating eating disorders. Sheri has a private practice at Los Angeles, CA. Visit: www.yourinnovativehealth.com

Happy
Happy
0 %
Sad
Sad
0 %
Excited
Excited
0 %
Sleepy
Sleepy
0 %
Angry
Angry
0 %
Surprise
Surprise
0 %

Average Rating

5 Star
0%
4 Star
0%
3 Star
0%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Previous post Cheerleaders and Weight Standards
Next post Break the Cycle of Mindless Eating