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Episode 30: Candy Obsessions

Happy Halloween, everybody, and welcome to today’s episode of The Work Of Becoming podcast! I thought, today, I would talk a little bit about a very fitting topic for this particular holiday, and that is the consumption of and the obsession with candy.

So, a lot of you have told me, “I really love sweets. I have a sweet tooth,” and I recently posted something about Crumbl Cookies. I had gotten some Crumbl Cookies, and I had eaten part of one, and I had put away rest for later. I got several DMs that were like, “Oh, my gosh! How do you do that?” It’s interesting to me because there definitely was a time in my life where I had sort of a candy obsession. There was a time in my life where with candy or with chips or generally with “junk food” — I don’t even like that term — but with what you would typically consider “junk food,” I was obsessed with it, and I would restrict it. I would tell myself, “No, no, no, no, no. I’m not gonna buy that. I can’t have it in my house. I can’t have it in my dorm.” Then whenever I was exposed to it, like at a Halloween party, I would go absolutely nuts. Then I would feel sick, and I would feel bad, and the whole cycle would start all over again.

And so, if that’s you, I really want to encourage you to, number one, follow one of my very favorite Instagram accounts, which is @growing.intuitive.eaters, I think. Her name is Dr. Taylor Arnold. She is a pediatric dietician, and she really focuses a lot on how to neutralize and normalize different foods for kids, how to give your kid a healthy relationship with food. But all of her techniques around that work really well on adults, too. One of the things that she’s talked about a lot is giving yourself exposure to the foods that are sort of those go-crazy foods for you.

So, I will tell you that in college I was that person. I was that person who, like I said, I would go crazy over candy, and then I would tell myself, “Oh, no. I can’t buy that. I can’t have that around. I go crazy.” When I first started working with my own nutrition coach, which was pretty far into grad school, there was a point where I was at maintenance, so I wasn’t trying to change my weight in any way. I was just trying to track my food and eat healthier, and we were talking, my nutrition coach and I, about my relationship with candy, and she said, “I want you to eat a piece of candy every single day. I want to see candy in your macros every single day,” and she asked me, she was like, “What candy do you really like the most?” I told her Reese’s because I absolutely love Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. And so, she said, “Okay, I want you to eat that every day.”

So, I went to the store. I was like, “Yes, ma’am.” I got my Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and the first day I want to say I ate, like, half the bag. I ate so many Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and I tracked them in my food, and I told her, “Well, I bought them, and then I ate so many of them,” and she was like, “Yep. Totally okay. Totally great. Keep eating them.”

So the next day, I was like, “All right. I’m gonna eat some more Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. They’re still here,” and I ate some more. Then the bag ran out, and I went and bought some more, and I continued to eat them, and slowly but surely over the course of about a month and a half, it got to the point where I didn’t even really want to eat the Reese’s anymore. I was tracking 14 of them at the beginning, and then all of a sudden it trickled down to 6 or 7 of them I was eating a day, and then all of a sudden it trickled down to 2 or 3, and it really did get to the point where I would have one and I would be completely satisfied. That was the moment where I realized exposure is a neutralizer.

We know that from research, too. If you look at one of the most prevalent therapies for OCD or anxiety is exposure therapy. When we expose ourselves to things, we get used to them, we get more accommodated, they become more neutral. The same thing works with things we are obsessed with. And so, we started with Reese’s, and I think we did Swedish Fish next, and then we did various types of chips. (Sorry, my phone was beeping there).  It was salt and vinegar chips. That was the next thing. And so, I went through this year-long process where I started to eat all of these foods that I used to be really intense about, I used to be really obsessed with, and yeah, it took, like, a year and a half, but I can promise you it was so worth it because it’s so easy for me to have those foods around and be completely neutral about them.

As a matter of fact, we bought Crumbl Cookies for our retreat this weekend, and there are two of them that are still sitting over there in the corner of the house, and they’ve been sitting there for the past three days because, you know, I ate a little piece of each of them while I was on the retreat, but I just don’t really feel driven to eat the rest of them, and maybe I’ll have a nibble tonight for dessert or whatever, but in general, I can buy whatever I want, I can be around whatever I want, and it’s not going to be an intense situation because I don’t restrict any of those foods. I haven’t created a sense of scarcity around any of those foods.

If this is something intense for you, I highly recommend working with a dietician who’s trained to work with people with eating disorders, if you think that might be you, or really just working with any qualified nutrition coach. We have two coaches on our team at Alliance who are certified nutrition coaches, and they are also amazing behavior change coaches, so they can help you work on things like urge surfing and regulating your behaviors around food and neutralizing this type of stuff.

But, in general, I just wanted to say on this Halloween that if you’re looking at that candy, if you’re hiding from it, if you feel like you have this really intense relationship with it, maybe that’s a sign that this is an area of growth for you. What I want to impress upon you is that it is possible to have a completely peaceful relationship with those foods, a relationship where they don’t really beep on your radar, you still love them, you still enjoy them, but there’s not this sort of toxic back-and-forth, all-or-nothing relationship with them at all.

So, that’s what I’ve got for you today! Feel free to DM me any questions you have about this, and I will talk to you in the next episode!

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Hi, I'm Karin

I’m a funfetti flavor super-fan, a loving dog mom, a PhD expert in mindset and behavior change… and I’m here to help make personal development and transformation a process that’s actually fun.

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