Have you ever said “I CAN’T STOP ONCE I START” about sweets? I heard this phrase often at family gatherings growing up. I even started to say it about myself. I proclaimed myself a sweet tooth and used rigid rules like “only one” to *TRY* to stay in control. It never worked. If I’m being honest: my family’s judgmental, harsh food beliefs didn’t seem to work for them, either. I didn’t want to stay stuck in that same cycle of restriction that preoccupied so many years of their lives. I wanted to learn how to enjoy sweets without losing control. And so I did.
Restriction is what drives this loss of control feeling around sweets. Using restriction to heal your relationship with food only intensifies the feeling of losing control. With every promise you’ll “never eat like that again” – you perpetuate the very cycle causing you food guilt in the first place.
This post will show you 3 tips to normalize your sweet tooth, just like I did, so you can get to a place of feeling in control around sweets. And maybe, in time, you can even enjoy your favorite sweets without one ounce of guilt.
tip #1: eat sweets regularly
Intuitive Eating normalizes foods by a process called habituation. Habituation uses repeated exposure to a stimulus (in this case, sweets) in order to decrease an undesired response over time (losing control).
With each exposure, binges decrease in intensity, duration, and frequency. When sweets are always available, you begin to find them less appealing. My No More Guilt Coaching programs walk clients through this process step-by-step so that it actually works, instead of leaving them feel even MORE out of control. With my coaching process, clients get to a point they sometimes even forget sweets like ice cream and cookies are in the house. Which surprises them, as they used to consume entire packages in one sitting, given the chance.
tip #2: make a plan to eat enough earlier in the day
If you are not eating enough, your mind becomes hyper-alert to ANY available energy as an anti-starvation mechanism. Sugar is the body’s most readily available fuel source. Since diets instruct you to eat as little as possible in order succeed with weight loss, you can expect a higher likelihood of loss of control around sweets whenever you are on a diet.
Through my coaching programs, clients create plans to eat enough satisfying foods during the day so that they don’t feel preoccupied with sweets, especially at night. If you are currently counting points, calories, or, restricting food groups for the purpose of losing weight and you currently feel “out of control around sweets”, consider taking a break from dieting for a while. (If not permanently, as we know: diets don’t work). Eating enough is foundational in normalizing your relationship with sweets – do not skip this important tip if you are wanting to feel more in control around sweets.
tip #3: practice mindful eating
I’m all for the power of mindfulness, but real talk: mindfulness doesn’t end food guilt if you use it in order to restrict.
When I say the word “mindful” I DON’T mean tricking yourself into eating less. I mean eating in a way that you feel able to notice your experience without guilt.
There is no right or wrong way to invite mindfulness into your eating experience.
My clients experiment with multiple techniques throughout their 3 month coaching programs, such as:
- sensing hunger and fullness cues
- choosing food that feels satisfying in the first place
- honing in on the taste, texture, temperature, and other sensory aspects of food
- limiting distractions as they eat
- knowing the difference between emotional hunger and physical hunger
This post includes a few of the many skills I offer through my No Guilt Framework. Each individual will find different skills helpful at different times, and this post is by no means an exhaustive list of how to enjoy eating sweets without losing control. For now, pick one to experiment with. My clients will tell you, it is more than worth the try to learn to eat your favorite foods without guilt.