With the holidays approaching, it’s common for my clients to feel out of control of their eating decisions.
Particularly when it comes to foods that are being brought into the house by other people.
For these clients, they come to me believing that the foods that are brought into the house are the problem.
That the presence of the food causes them to lose control with their eating habits and overeat.
In this episode, I’m sharing what you need to focus on to have control with any food that’s brought into the house.
This way, you’re not giving your power away when that food enters the house.
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Hello there. Welcome back to the podcast this week. We are officially in the holiday season. And, maybe that’s just me, but when I start feeling the Halloween spirit is when I feel like we’ve officially entered the holidays. So, last weekend Taylor and I went to this Halloween-type festival where there were costumes, performances, those scary trails, which don’t really scare me, I have to say. I am a jumpy person. So if you jump out of a bush and scare me, I will scream. But I’m not scared. I’m startled. Two different things. But it was really sweet, there were pretty lights everywhere, lots of kids having fun, it was a good time. And it’s really cute because they hand you a bag in the beginning so that as you walk around the trails you can pick up candy at the candy stations. Now, these are obviously more for the kids, but I am a kid at heart and I love some Halloween candy. So I took a bag and we actually had fun getting candy and walking around. It was great. And to clarify, they did encourage adults to do it as well. So, I wasn’t the only adult there swiping candy. It was normal, I promise. And it’s little moments like this, where it really shows me how far I’ve come with food. And it seems like so not a big deal now that eating to me feels so intentional and easy, but there’s a time where something like this would have caused so much drama. And rightfully so, based on where my brain was at the time. I would have been counting my calories before the event to see how many pieces of candy I was allowed to have. Or, most of the time, I actually would have just don’t myself I wasn’t allowed to have any and that I would stick to water or diet soda when I was there. Not a good habit. Then, when I got to the event I would just be thinking about how much I wanted the candy, which would then lead to me beating myself up because I thought that meant I was addicted to the candy because I wanted it so much. It would have been a struggle to say the least that would have really impacted by ability to enjoy that time. And the only thing that you have, when you’re not worrying about food, is what you want to do with your time. It’s how you want to enjoy your time. And that’s all I was focused on. When you reach that place, you give yourself permission to enjoy foods that you want to, without feeling the need to overindulge in them. So, that’s my little reflection piece on today’s episode. Moments like this make me very grateful for the work I’ve done and the work I have the privilege of helping clients do as well. So, speaking of halloween candy, I know a lot of you around this time of the year will be struggling with certain food items being inside the house. And this is actually something many of you struggle with year-round. Especially if you’re a mom and you have kids, or maybe you have a partner that likes certain foods in the house – things like that. And this can really feel like a problem that’s outside of your control. Because it has to do with other people. And here’s what I find most sources will tell you to do about this problem. They tell you to keep food items that are tempting to you out of the house. Like, that’s it. They just tell you to keep them out of the house. Not really acknowledging the fact that there’s many of you where that’s not really an option. So, again, maybe you’re a Mom and your kids have certain foods they love in the house. Or maybe your husband, or partner, has foods they love inside the house. Basically, you may not live alone, right? So then when we’re told, “Oh, yeah. Just leave them out of the house”, we’re like, excuse me, what the heck? This advice used to frustrate me so much. Do you ever feel like that? You’ll be really struggling with food, and then some expert will tell you the most seemingly simple solution that just leaves you feeling frustrated? Where you’re like, “Yeah. Duh. I’ve already tried that”. Or where the solution just isn’t even a viable option? I used to feel like that all the time. For me it was the health advice of “Just find a balance with food. That 80/20 balance”. I’d be like “Excuse me. We’ve tried that. And it’s not solving for our lack of control with food. So, what now?”. We’re all the same, you guys. I love it. So, back to the topic of foods being inside of the house. Most advice will tell you to just keep those foods out of the house. And here’s the thing. There’s no right or wrong way to eat healthy. That’s always what I want you guys to start learning with this podcast, especially if you’re my client. There’s no right or wrong way to be an eater. That’s a false belief system. You get to decide your eating habits and the eater you want to be. You get to decide whether you want to keep certain food items out of the house and remove that temptation if that works for you, or whether those foods are realistically going to be inside the house and you want to learn to manage your urges around that. Pretty much all of my clients need to learn to manage their urges and temptations with those foods, because those foods will end up being in the house regardless. Or making their way around them in some capacity. So, this is always work worth doing. Managing your urges around these foods. Now, most of us in the beginning will think that these foods that are in the house are the problem. That these foods cause us to lose control. We’ll create some pretty convincing stories around this. We’ll think that the ice cream, chocolate, cheese – or whatever else finds its way into your house – causes you to lose all control. That you’re addicted to those foods. Our brain’s are very dramatic. Have you noticed that? This is actually how my brain thought about these exact foods. And none of this is true. You can’t be addicted to a food in this way where it has power over you. Where it does Jedi mind tricks and forces you to put that food into your mouth. It’s not a thing, you guys. And I encourage you, whenever your brain goes to a place where it’s convincing you that outside circumstances, like food, are in charge of your emotions or actions, just watch it. Because this is how you stay in suffering, when you feel like you have no control. It’s not a good place to be in and it’s just not necessary. So just question it a bit. But I want to talk about what’s actually going on here so you can have clarity around this. What’s going on is there’s food that you find pleasurable. Whether that’s food you perceive as “healthy” or “unhealthy”. And this isn’t a problem. Pleasure with food is natural. It’s safe to find pleasure in foods that you don’t perceive as the healthiest. But, when you’re not managing your emotions, these same foods that you find pleasure in, you’ll find that you want to over-pleasure in them. Which is not natural and does not serve you. This doesn’t have any benefits. You’ll feel compelled to over-pleasure with food so you can suppress or diminish an emotion that you don’t want to feel. This is the problem. But, it’s not what we think the problem is. We think the foods that are in the house are the problem. We make pleasure with these foods the problem. We make the fact that we find these foods genuinely pleasurable mean that we’re addicted to them and that we have no control. This was never the case. This is the difference between eating one piece of Halloween candy and enjoying that candy, versus eating the entire bag where you’re not really even enjoying it that much. You’re just filling up with it. That former example was my experience this past weekend. I had 2 pieces of candy. I think. I don’t even feel the need to count anymore. But I had a couple. As many as I wanted to have to enjoy them. And then after, I was done. And I very much enjoyed them. I am not saying no to Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups on Halloween. It’s not going to happen, my friends. I was able to have pleasure with the candy in a small amount because I allowed the pleasure meters to be filled with that food, without feeling like I had to fill up urgently with that food. The two pieces of candy was enough to have pleasure with it. I didn’t need to fill up with over-pleasure. That urge to fill up with foods you find pleasurable? That’s what over-pleasure is. Where no amount of that pleasure will ever be enough, because you’re trying to suppress an emotion as much as possible. So you don’t have to experience the discomfort of that emotion. What’s happening is you’re unwilling to feel. But then, we’ll mistakenly think that food is the problem. That the Halloween candy was the problem. That sugar was the problem. That pleasure with food was the problem. And all of you can try and convince yourselves that you think those foods are the problem, because sugar is unhealthy. That’s what some of you will come to me with. You’ll think that the drama you have with these foods is because logically you’re thinking “It’s healthier to not eat sugar”. No. You’re really thinking that sugary foods cause you to lose control. If you were able to stop at a couple of pieces of candy on Halloween, and then you stopped there having fully enjoyed those pieces, would you really have so much drama about sugar being bad and those foods you find pleasurable? Probably not. If you were able to stop eating those foods when you decided to, you probably would feel more comfortable experiencing pleasure with them. And this is why you all will think that sugar is bad and you need to cut out certain foods. That was never the case. The sweets and foods you find pleasurable aren’t the problem. That’s not where you lose control. The reason you find them quote unquote tempting is because you desire them from a place of not wanting to feel an emotion. You want to manipulate that pleasure to suppress what you’re feeling. See that? Pleasure isn’t the problem with food. It’s when your brain tries to manipulate that pleasure for its own agenda. The agenda being that it wants to protect you from every uncomfortable emotion. This lack of control isn’t solved by eliminating the food. It’s solved by feeling some feelings. I have many clients with kids, families, partners who feel out of control because their loved ones will bring certain food items into the house that they find pleasurable. And they think this is the problem. That the foods are the problem. That their family members are the problem. I’ve been here too, don’t worry. But, that’s not the case. It’s the over-desire for those foods that is the problem. It’s the urge to seek over-pleasure in those foods that is the problem. But, these women always think at first, understandably, that the food is the problem. So, they’ll try to keep it out of the house. Or micromanage their families eating decisions so their health goals can be supported. Or they’ll try to lock up the foods in the house. This one always makes me laugh a bit. Cause I’ve been there, you guys. I’m serious. But, what’s interesting is it doesn’t stop them from overeating and over-pleasuring with food. Because it never was about the chocolate. It never was about the cake. It never was about the Halloween candy. When they locked up those foods, their brain found ways to over-pleasure in other ways that didn’t serve them. Whether that’s with other foods, or maybe it became overdrinking or overspending. Anything that provides pleasure in a way that allows them to suppress what they don’t want to feel. So, in my coaching practice I teach women to solve for the cause of their eating habits rather than the symptom. This is how you change the way you eat for life. And this is a really good example of this. The symptom is what you eat. It’s the pizza your husband brought home on the way from work. It’s that candy your partner gave you on Valentine’s day. It’s the Reeses peanut butter cups that your kids want in the house during Halloween. You overeating those foods is the symptom of something deeper. The cause is your unwillingness to experience an emotion that is occurring in your body. Maybe it’s overwhelm, frustration, inadequacy, fear, doubt — whatever it is. If you want to unpack that at the deepest level, sign up for my program and let’s coach on it. I’ve got you. But this is how I want you to see this. Most of you will have this picture of your eating habits that’s very, very surface level. You’ll look at your eating habits just in terms of what you’re eating – so the actions – and then your weight or health – so the result of the actions with food. That is half of the equation my friends. To change your eating habits permanently you need to solve for the cause. Keeping food out of the house is solving for the symptom. To solve for the cause you need to uncover what feelings are driving you to overeat those foods when they’re in the house. Make sense? And here’s the thing. I’m never here to tell you what’s best for you from this place of “Here’s what you should do”. No. You want to train yourself to know that you have the power and resources available to decide the rules with food. There’s what you want to do and what you don’t want to do. That you like your reasons for. You’re totally free to just keep certain foods out of the house, if that is what ultimately serves you. It’s so safe to do that. I have foods I do that with. So, I don’t really buy ice cream, candy — anything super sweet. I don’t have that in my house. But here’s the difference. I like my reasons for it. A reason you won’t like is when you’re keeping those foods out of the house because you believe you have no control with them. That’s not a reason you’re going to like, because it’s perpetuating this story that those foods have power over you. And if you believe this, it’s an indicator that you’re not fully experiencing your emotions. You’re not solving for the cause. Why I keep these foods out of the house is because, and it sounds boring, but I genuinely don’t need them in the house. I don’t want them in the house. And it wasn’t always this way. I love those foods, you guys. I’m not a robot. I love chocolate ice cream. Specifically the double fudge brownie ice cream from Edy’s. It’s my favorite since I was a kid and no one is forever taking that away from me. But I don’t need it in my house to enjoy it and get pleasure from that food. What I do is buy it on special occasions which allows me to enjoy it more. It’s not from this restrictive place. It’s from an intentional mindset on my birthday, or other special days, where I’m thinking “What foods do I love? What foods do I want to enjoy right now?”. Not from a place of filling up with it, from a place where I’m prioritizing enjoyable experiences. And for many of you, this will bring up drama too, since this is the concept of celebrating with food. We’ll have to do a whole other podcast on that, but my reasons for eating or not eating certain foods are never because I feel like I need them, or like I don’t have control with them. There is zero urgency around it. It just gets to be my decision. I keep certain foods out of the house, because I don’t need them in the house. Why I don’t need them in the house? And this is the big difference. Because I’ve trained my body to experience any emotion without needing to cover them up with food. You feel like you are helpless to those foods, and need those foods, because you’re unwilling to feel an emotion. Once you gain the ability to unpack your brain and manage your emotions? Where there’s nothing you’re unwilling to feel? Notice how those foods you thought you were addicted to, don’t even matter that much. Sure, you love them and enjoy them. But not from this urgent, desperate place. You just get to decide what you want to eat and what you don’t — for reasons that you actually like. Alright, my friends. I hope this was helpful to you. I think this topic will be very useful for the upcoming holiday season. Remember, you’re not addicted to foods. The foods were never the problem. Foods were meant to be pleasurable and enjoyed. Just notice what you’re unwilling to feel when you feel an urgent pull to foods that you find pleasurable. Alright, my beautiful friend. I’ll talk to you next week.
Hey there! I'm Kat Rentas. I’m a certified life and health coach for women who believes that eating healthy should feel simple and sustainable. I teach hundreds of high-performing women to change their eating habits without the overwhelm. Want to change your eating habits in a way that is aligned with your needs, preferences, and goals? You’re in the right place. You can read my full story here.