Yes, you read it right.
Reese's Peanut Butter Cups were an actual support in my recovery from my eating disorder.
I'll back up a bit!
In my early 20's I suffered with binge eating disorder for a period of a couple years. My untreated BED led me to a weight loss challenge gone epically wrong (this is SUCH a common experience!) which then resulted in years of struggles with bulimia.
More on that another time!
For now, I want to share how and why Reese's were instrumental for me.
At the time my weeks were spent tightly "on-plan" and my weekends were spent binging. The binges were emotionally and physically painful and made me feel absolutely out of control and completely and utterly flawed.
I didn't know what else to do, so each week when Sunday rolled around I'd throw out all my "bad" foods and hop back on my plan.
And then I'd typically get one last binge in... FroYo was my go-to.
*Rinse and repeat*
The funny thing was that I knew, intellectually at least, that restricting during the week was fueling my need to binge on the weekends. But emotionally, I wasn't ready to loosen the tight grip of control that I seemingly had over the way my body appeared.
So, I started where I was.
I knew I was ready to stop allowing my eating disorder, food and the gym to absolutely run my life. And I had to figure out a way to feel safe and a bit secure in starting the long journey of recovery.
I took some time and took an inventory of the foods that I felt most out of control around. And Fro-Yo was at the very top of my list.
Now, eating Fro-Yo every day isn't the most cost effective thing in the world ($$$), so I narrowed it down to toppings. And Reeses were the one thing that I LOVED and really couldn't get enough of.
And, peanut butter cups were something that I was convinced that I could eat an abundance of forever. And ever. And ever.
So, I started small. I bought the mini's and allowed myself to have one after every meal.
Then, I moved to having 2 after every meal.
Yes, then I moved to having 3 after every meal.
And I'll be honest, I carried on like this for a little while! At first it seemed overwhelming to have such a "bad" food so frequently. But I kept my eye on the prize... having a normal relationship with food.
Eventually, I got more comfortable around the Reeses.
And at that point, I gave myself unconditional permission to eat them whenever I wanted one, two, three or a handful. And I made a deal with myself (therapy for the win!) that regardless of how many I ate, I wouldn't compensate for it.
And you know what?
I discovered that I was usually satisfied after a couple. And after that they just didn't taste the same.
Did I still eat them even when I wasn't hungry? YUP. I honored the craving with openness and curiosity.
But the idea of them no longer controlled me or taunted me.
So, with the win of Reeses under my belt, I expanded to another food. And eventually another and another. I carried the trust that I had in myself and in each food with me into the act of stocking a new food each time I was ready.
Take a minute and think about last week's blog.
When things are scarce, we're more likely to overdo it. When things are physically abundant, we feel more secure. We have the opportunity to remind ourselves that the food isn't going anywhere. That we can actually have it whenever we want it.
Which undercuts the need to eat it all. Right now.
So, how can you implement this in your own life?
- Think of which foods you feel a bit uncomfortable around. Hint: They're usually on your "bad" list.
- Get creative. How can you start to allow yourself to have one of those thing in a way that makes you feel safe and secure, at least to start?
- Allow it. Frequently. Multiple times per day if you can.
- Start to notice how it actually tastes and feels. Do you really like it as much as you think you do? Does it feel good in your body and support your hunger and cravings?
- BE PATIENT WITH THE PROCESS!
- STOCK UP. When you're ready it's imperative to have that thing available in abundance. This usually brings up a lot of fear and hesitation, but when you have some wins under your belt that it can exist in your cabinets, that you can have it whenever you want, it starts to lose its power and its lure.
- If you start to feel a bit out of control around the food take a step back. Take a deep breath and remind yourself that you can literally have it whenever you want. Hit PAUSE. Give yourself 5 minutes and circle back. If you still want it, give yourself permission to have it. If not? Cool, next!
- Find some support. Through a therapist, group or dietitian. Doing this solo is SO hard. Support is really imperative.
- Rinse and repeat! With new foods that challenge you a bit more each time.
In time, you'll find that the foods aren't as scary. That you are in fact in charge of what you eat, how you eat and how much you eat.
Abundance for the win!
And yes, I still stock up on candy today.
(👇🏽 👇🏽 my current stock is running a bit low!)
Not because I'm worried about binging or feeling deprived, but because it's a powerful reminder for me that food doesn't have to control the way I operate in the world.
And do I overeat candy sometimes?
Do I grab some when I'm feeling exhausted or stressed even when I'm not hungry?
But do I feel out of control around candy?
And do I eat handfuls of candy everyday?
Because I'm in charge.
And because I know that candy isn't inherently bad. It has absolutely no power or morality in my life.
Just fuel. Just pleasure. Just food.
You can get there too.
It will be challenging and as uncomfortable AF at times. And you have to be ready to unlearn the "right" and "wrong" ways to be around food. Which means doing things differently than what you've always done.
Remember, at the end of the day, food is just food. It doesn't hold any power over you unless you hand yours over to it by continuing to engage in dieting cycles and disordered eating.
Thanks for being here!
I'm a body image and eating disorder therapist and coach in Horsham, PA. I specialize in treating binge eating disorder and supporting women to stop dieting, find a sense of peace with their bodies and really start living.
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