In Episode 51, Kathryn address a question about buying junk food and former binge food, and keeping those foods in your house. You’ll also hear about what to expect in 2019 on the Brain over Binge Podcast.
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Disclaimer: *The Brain over Binge Podcast is produced and recorded by Brain over Binge Recovery Coaching, LLC. All work is copyrighted by Brain over Binge Recovery Coaching, LLC, and all rights are reserved. As a disclaimer, the hosts of the Brain over Binge Podcast are not professional counselors or licensed healthcare providers, and this podcast is not a substitute for medical advice or any form of professional therapy. Eating disorders can have serious health consequences and you are strongly advised to seek medical attention for matters relating to your health. Please get help when you need it, and good luck on your journey.
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Welcome to the Brain over Binge podcast, where you learn a simple brain-based approach to ending binge eating. I’m Kathryn Hansen, your host, and for anyone who may be new to the show, I’m the author of Brain over Binge and the Brain over Binge Recovery Guide. I hope that you find this podcast useful in helping you end the binge eating habit. If you are new here and you have not read either of my books, you might wonder why I’m calling binge eating a habit, when you may be used to hearing binge eating being referred to as a disorder or a disease. If you have questions about that, I do encourage you to go back and listen to the episodes from the beginning, in order to gain a better understanding of this brain over binge approach.
Today is the Q&A show for December. This is the last Q&A show of the year, I am going to address two questions—one that’s about recovery, and that also relates to the holidays, and then the next question is about the podcast itself.
The first question is from Vicky and she said, “I’ve been following your brain over binge principles, and they’ve literally changed my way of thinking and my binges have massively decreased. However, I’m still hoarding food, especially with Christmas coming up. I just end up buying so much junk food, but not bingeing on it. Is this normal? Even though I’m not bingeing as much, I sort of feel better that the food is here, even though I don’t binge on it.”
Thank you for that question, Vicky. And the first thing I want to say is that it’s so wonderful that you’ve decreased your binge eating so much, and I know that getting it out of your life completely is absolutely possible for you. So I would just encourage you to keep your progress, and you never have to turn back to where you were before now. As far as buying food and buying large amounts of junk food and keeping certain food in your house, this is a question that does come up often, so I’m really glad you submitted this question because it gives me a chance to talk about it here on the podcast.
I’ll just say briefly that I don’t think there is one right or one wrong way to handle what type of food you keep in your house. This is an individual decision that everyone needs to make in recovery, and actually, it’s not just people who are in recovery and not just people who have, or have had eating issues. What food to buy and what food to keep in your house—these are decisions that everyone needs to make. And it’s not always easy. I often hear very normal eaters, and I’m sure you have too, saying that they don’t buy this or that, or they can’t have this or that in the house because they’ll end up eating too much of it. I’m sure you’ve had this experience as well.
Sometimes for example, after a party, someone will give me a plate of dessert saying, “Oh, here take this, I can’t have it in my house. Bring this home with you, I don’t want this around or I’ll eat too much of it.” And this is from, you know, people who don’t know anything about what I do. It’s just an example of the temptation that food brings all of us, not just people with a binge eating issue or overeating issues. Just having this highly palatable, sugary food, the food that’s around more commonly during the holidays can be tempting for everyone. The reality is sometimes it’s just easier—again for anyone, with or without a history of bingeing—to simply not have certain foods around, and there’s actually nothing wrong with this.
Now in recovery, or just at any point in time, if you feel like it’s better just not to have something in the house—it doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong. Now I know I’ve been kind of making comparisons to normal eaters, but I realize that the issue of what to keep and what to not keep in the house is often a bigger decision, or sometimes a more complicated decision, for binge eaters or those who have recently ended the habit or who have greatly reduced it like Vicky. I want to say Vicky, that having exposure to these former binge foods or these junk foods without bingeing on them is really great practice, and I just want to congratulate you for being able to do that. It gives you so much freedom to know that you can be around these types of foods or any type of food without it leading to a binge.
That’s, I believe, a goal for anyone who’s overcoming this—maybe not right away, but at some point–to feel like you can control yourself around any food or any situation, and it never has to lead to a binge, and this happens on different timelines for different people. It’s just wonderful to know that you can be in your home, you can go to parties and be around any types of foods without worrying that you’ll binge. You can even take that dessert tray home that you’re offered and know that you’re only going to eat a reasonable amount of it. Once you no longer feel that food has power over you, you’ll likely find yourself doing things that you never thought were possible—like forgetting that dessert tray is even in your house or throwing half of it away after a week, because it’s no longer fresh.
Sure, you may eat some of that dessert and really enjoy it when it’s around, but you’ll probably surprise yourself and find that you’ve simply had enough after having maybe a serving every day for a few days. So Vicky, I want to say that the fact that you are around these foods in your house, and you’re not bingeing on them—that is really huge progress. And if you’re also eating a normal amount of those foods and not following that with a binge that’s major progress as well. It means that those foods are losing power over you, and you’re getting back in control of what you do and what you do not eat. All of that is extremely positive. However, in your question, there does seem to be a level of unease in what you’re experiencing. It doesn’t seem like the scenario I described earlier, where you’re given the dessert tray and you take it home and it’s on your counter—it seems that you’re actively seeking out and buying these foods, and like you said, hoarding them, and that’s raising questions for you. Like, “why am I doing this? And is this a problem?”
It’s one thing if you’re buying what you like and what you find pleasurable and what your family likes to eat and wants to eat, and in doing that, you’re also dismissing binge urges. You’re not bingeing on any of this food you’re bringing in the house, you’re eating normal amounts of these pleasurable foods, but it doesn’t seem like you feel you’re bringing foods in the house in a normal way. It seems like you may be having an urge to store up more food than you need, or large amounts of food and especially large amounts of possibly former binge foods. So since it does seem to be raising concerns for you, I have some thoughts that I hope will help.
I think it’s possible that your overbuying of these junk foods is simply a habit left over from when you used to binge on large amounts of junk food. So now it’s like you’re dismissing the urges to binge on it, but there are still these urges to buy when you’re in the store, and I think it’s possible that that’s simply what your lower brain is used to doing. So when you’re in the store, you may still have these habitual thoughts saying that you need all this food, because that’s just simply what you’ve done in the past. One example I thought of is just with parents, and I know I can relate to this, who have kids that get older and kind of grow out of any baby items that they used to need, and you know, for example, myself, I’d find myself just automatically going down the diaper aisle or buy the baby food. I’m like, “wait, I don’t need this anymore.” So it’s kind of your brain telling you what it thinks you need, and I think that may be happening with the large amounts of junk food in those moments that you’re at the store, and you find yourself kind of encountering these situations where you’re buying all this junk food.
Just try to develop more awareness in these situations. Try to notice what thoughts are going through your head. Just try to observe yourself and see if you can identify which habitual thoughts are kind of getting you to act, and also in these moments, just remind yourself that you no longer binge. You don’t have to tell yourself, “I can’t have this, or I shouldn’t have this”. It’s just kind of like I talked about with the parent going down the diaper aisle, it’s like, “Oh, I don’t actually need these anymore.”
And for you, it might not be, “I don’t need these anymore. I don’t want these anymore,” it might be, “Oh, I actually need much less of this than I used to.” Just realize that your brain has simply developed a habit of buying and eating large amounts of this food, so you’ll need to break all the parts of that habit. Sounds like you’re doing a great job of breaking the harmful, binge eating part of the habit—like the actual behavior of putting the food into your mouth that’s so harmful, and now you’ll likely want to start working on breaking this much less harmful part of the habit of just buying too much of the food. But like I talked about a little bit earlier, I don’t want you to go to the store thinking that you can’t buy certain things or that you shouldn’t buy certain things that you truly do enjoy.
You don’t want to create a situation where you’re saying no to yourself too often for food you actually like, and that you want to have in your house. So I want to encourage you Vicki and anyone else listening to try to find that balance for yourself of foods that are going to nourish you and make you feel good and give you the energy you need, and then also decide what you’d like to have in your house purely for pleasure. You have permission to buy what you want. You don’t have to buy only what you think you should eat or only what you think is healthy, but part of taking care of yourself and your family as well is to find that good balance that works for you. So Vicki, I hope that that helps you. Thank you so much for the question, and I hope that my answer helps you and helps anyone else who may be struggling with what food to keep in their house or what to buy.
I think Vicki, it does come down to just breaking all parts of the habit and developing more of an awareness of your thoughts and what thoughts are kind of getting you to do things that you don’t truly want to be doing. And if you can break that habit of bingeing on these foods, I know you can also break the habit of buying too much of them as well.
Now I’m going to move on to my second question, and the second question is actually one that I’m asking myself. So maybe it’s a little bit silly in that way, but it’s information that I want you to have as we close out this year of the podcast. My question is what are the plans for the brain over binge podcast in 2019? Everyone who’s been listening in 2018 knows that I’ve been on a consistent schedule of releasing the Q&A episodes on the first Tuesday of each month throughout these past 12 months, and I’ve also released interviews on more of a random schedule as well throughout this year.
But I want to let you know that things will be changing a bit in 2019. Before I get into that, I just want to tell you that when I first started this podcast, my goal was to get information out there and share the brain over binge approach in a very accessible way to hopefully help as many people as possible, and I’m so thankful to all of you who have written to say that you’ve benefited from the podcast, and so many of you who have said that you’ve completely ended your binge eating habit. And that’s just amazing to me, it means so much to me to know that what I’m doing is making an impact.
When I visualize what my podcast would be when I was first starting it with this goal in mind of making this information accessible to people and helping as many people as possible, I initially thought I’d make somewhere around 20 episodes at the most, but as I got going, I loved it so much and I got great feedback and I just wanted to keep going and keep giving more and more insights and information. And it’s hard to believe I’m already on episode 51 today. My first episode was on December 13th of 2016, so in two days, the brain over binge podcast is going to be two years old. What I’ve decided for 2019 is to release the episodes just simply as I can. I want to keep the podcast going, but I also have some transitions and changes going on in my personal life that need my time and attention. And I also have some other projects that I’m going to be focusing on that I hope will help make coaching more accessible to binge eaters who need it.
So I’m not going anywhere. This podcast is not going anywhere, but the shows will be released more sporadically, kind of like the interview episodes have been this year. One thing I want to mention along with this announcement is that so many people have told me that it helps them to go back and listen to the podcast episodes more than once they say it helps solidify information and it helps give them reminders, and that each time they listen, different things stand out. So what I want to recommend to you is that during the times that there are not any new episodes being released, I want to encourage you to go back and find an episode or a topic that’s relevant to you and relisten. And often you’ll have new takeaways and different ideas will stand out to you in different ways, and you’ll be able to apply what you hear based on wherever you are in your process of ending binge eating.
I’m truly looking forward to 2019 and sharing new ideas with you. I hope everyone has a great month of December and a great holiday season, if you’re celebrating, and a wonderful start to the new year, I want to thank everyone who is here listening today, or who has been here since the beginning of the podcast or somewhere in between. I appreciate every one of you, and as I sign off for 2018, I want to encourage you and remind you that you have the power to change your brain and live a binge-free life.
The brain over binge podcast is produced and recorded by brain over binge recovery coaching, LLC, all work is copyrighted by Brain over Binge Recovery Coaching, LLC, and all rights are reserved. As a disclaimer, the hosts of the brain over binge podcast are not professional counselors or licensed healthcare providers, and this podcast is not a substitute for medical advice or any form of professional therapy. Eating disorders can have serious health consequences, and you are strongly advised to seek medical attention for matters, relating to your health. Please get help when you need it and good luck on your journey.