Last week I posted a video on how to stop binging for life, starting immediately, and a ton of you shared your experiences below that video. And I couldn’t be more grateful because that helps all of us, and today I want to dive into one of those comments (from “That 80s Girl” because she came up with something I didn’t address in last week’s video, and I think it’s critically important.
Here it is… “That 80s Girl” writes,
“I’m having a lot of trouble with this, as I’m realizing how much of my life revolves or revolved around food. I’m an artist, and the way I’ve always worked creatively is to relax with a bottle of soda, and an occasional mixed drink, and a box or bag of chips and binge all night, and that would be my ritual for getting in the zone. When I replaced the soda with water and nixed the chips I found it almost impossible to work. That was my thing! And when I do start working, I get so hungry. It’s all I can think about. I’ve tried snacking on celery instead, no go. I’m still trying to find new ways to work. I’ve also noticed how much of my personality I relate to eating candy. This might sound insane, but sometimes I don’t feel like myself unless I find my favorite candy in hand.”
Oh my goodness “That 80s Girl” I absolutely love this! You are not insane, and here is why. In last week’s video, I talked about triggers when it comes to binge eating, and when I discussed triggers, I was sort of specifically talking about an event that happened. For instance if you had a bad day, something’s going wrong in your relationship, or maybe something is going sideways with the kids. And those triggers can sometimes trigger the binge eating habits and the binge eating cycle.
What I didn’t address is that binging also can be tied to a behavioral habit, and this is precisely what you have got going on, “That 80s Girl”, and that adds a layer of complexity.
In this case, “That 80s Girl” believes that her creativity can’t exist without binging on junk food.
She believes that her creativity is simply impossible without it, and this belief is due to a ritual that she has formed and putting the connection between binging and junk food and the result of her ultra-awesome creativity.
In other words, it’s like a successful athlete attributing her success to the running shoes that she’s wearing, rather than attribution what the rest of the world knows, what we all know, that her success is due to her hard work, her determination, her talent, and her consistency. But try to get her to believe that! The athlete, she thinks it’s her running shoes. She believes that.
But until she challenges that belief in a concrete way she is not going to believe anything else, any other story that conflicts with that, even as logical as that story might be.
So, in this case, it really is a habit that started at some point with a loose connection between the junk food and the creative outcome, and then that habit and that connection was solidified over time until, in her mind, “That 80s Girl” truly believes that she can’t be creative wee-out the junk food.
As we learned last week, it’s really hard to change the binging cycle without getting physical. That’s because there’s a physiological reaction that’s happening when you’re binging on junk food.
You get a natural high from the sugar, and then you come crashing down and your body tries to adjust to that chemical reaction by seeking, craving, more sugar. It’s a physiological reaction.
If you pull that sugar away, your body is going to get anxious. You’re going to feel anxious. Physiologically you just have to expect this feeling when you pull sugar out when you’re trying to stop, this binging, non-binging cycle.
Well, in “That 80s Girl’s” case, not only is she having the physiological reaction of pulling that sugar away and having that physical reaction of the anxiety of her body craving that sugar fix, she’s also having an emotional connection because she believes in her mind that the sugar is actually helping her creativity.
So when she tries to stop binging by substituting another behavior like snacking on celery, that’s a good start, but in this case it’s not the whole picture because she has that emotional block that says, “I can’t be creative without this sugar.”
So we have two things going on: the physiological reaction and the emotional bond, the connection that she’s making between creativity and sugar binging.
Therefore in this case I recommend a two-step approach to conquer this binging cycle once and for all.
1) CONQUER THE PHYSIOLOGICAL REACTION
“That 80s Girl” the first thing you have to do is get over that physiological reaction that you’re going to have when you pull sugar out of your diet.
I recommend, if you can, take one week, get out of the creative process. If this is your job, if you have to be creative for your job, you might have to take a week of vacation and get clean with your diet.
Pull all the sugars and flours out of there, anything that’s spiking your glucose, spiking your blood sugar.
Now, studies have shown and, in my personal experience and what I do with women all over the world, it takes about two weeks of super clean eating, no sugars, no flours, nothing that’s spiking your glucose in order for you not to have those physiological physical cravings. But one week should be sufficient to get you on your way to prove to you that those cravings actually will go away.
But, in your case, with your situation, just conquering that physiological response is not going to be enough. You have to address the belief system “That 80s Girl”.
2) CHALLENGE THE BELIEF
The second step is going to be, before you get back into that creative zone, to seriously challenge the belief that creativity and sugar are strongly linked together.
You have to challenge it and base your beliefs in reality, which is that creativity comes from you, inside you. It has nothing to do with sugar.
The link that you have created in your head, this belief that you have that sugar and creativity are linked together, well, that was formed from some habit that was created from long ago. This belief could’ve possibly been started innocently years ago when maybe, you know, during work you snacked on pizza and soda, and you had an amazing day. You had an incredibly outcome from that, and then you had that loose connection like, “Oh, wait a minute. You know, I was eating pizza and sugar, and look at this creative outcome I came to,” and then maybe that happened again the next day or a few days later. And then, soon enough, you have this strong linkage between the two.
The reality is, no, “That 80s Girl”, that creativity comes from well within inside you, deep inside you. It is you. It has nothing to do with the sugar.
But I can’t tell you that. You have to come up with that yourself. You have to ask yourself, “Where did this come from?”
Try to think about the roots of this belief system that you have, this belief system that the rest of us can tell you that it’s obviously a ridiculous belief system. It’s not based in reality. But it doesn’t matter what we think, it matters what you think and what you believe.
So you have to seriously challenge that and come up with a new belief, the reality-based belief, and then reinforce that.
Part B, of step two is that you have to have a strategy in place to address when those new beliefs are challenged in your head. Because there is going to be a time where you think to yourself, “Oh, my gosh. I can’t be creative because I don’t have my sugar!”
That’s going to happen, especially if it’s as strong as the connection sounds. So you have to have a strategy in place to deal with that, BEFORE you get back into that creative space again and potential experience that trigger.
In last week’s video I discussed the strategy being a physical strategy to address those triggers.
Well, in your case, if you’re at work, that’s going to be really tough to do. You can’t exactly go for a jog every time these triggers come up! Maybe in this case, because it’s really hard to do something physical if you’re in a work environment, perhaps you can pull out a note that you’ve pre-written to yourself that reminds you that this isn’t real.
“Sugar and my creativity are not connected. My creativity comes from within”
Maybe take a walk to the restroom and back again. Do something to change your state to get you out of this repetitive destructive pattern going on in your mind. Remind yourself that the belief isn’t true, it isn’t based in reality.
The key here is the understand that it is going to take time to change this belief system. It’s not going to happen overnight, and as long as you understand that, and you’re patient with yourself and you’re kind to yourself, you will overcome this, guaranteed.
So, 80s Girl, give this a shot. Try these two steps, and then come back and share with us what your experience has been.