Dear Cassey: How do I stop bingeing on sweets?

Hey Wants To Stop,

Congratulations on your journey! Nothing makes me happier than someone saying that I somehow helped them find the joy in fitness. It’s why I do what I do! And are we just going to breeze by all of the amazing changes you’ve already made?! The workouts, eating lots of healthy foods, letting go of toxic mindsets, and reaching out for support in the areas where you still struggle. You’re seriously crushing it!

Okay, let’s talk about sweets!

Everybody has that food that is their “kryptonite.” And we all go through a phase where we try to avoid that food altogether, trying to be healthy. And you know what? Cutting out the foods we crave almost never works. We end up doing exactly what you described: bingeing.

So the key here is finding a way to include all of our favorite foods in our diet in moderation! It sounds like you know this is what NEEDS to happen, you’re just not sure HOW to actually do that. Here are some things that work for me!

Shift your mindset about sweets – Yes, bingeing on sweets can derail your goals. But thinking of sweets as “bad” won’t fix your relationship with them either. It’s better to accept that you love sweets and ditch any guilt when you indulge.

Pay attention to when you’re most likely to binge – Does it happen when you’re bored? Stressed? Tired? On your period? All of the above?! Pinpoint the times when cravings are most likely to strike, and then you can find ways to address what your body might actually need. For example, I know I get extra snacky when I’m not sleeping enough!

Make sure you’re satisfied – It’s great that you’re trying to eat super healthy, but are you actually satisfied? It’s really important to make sure you’re eating enough, especially if you’re more active than you used to be. Sometimes cravings (especially ones that lead to bingeing) are a sign that you’re not eating enough at meals! Adding a source of fat to your meals like avocado, olive oil, nuts and seeds can help.

Be mindful when you eat – If you want a sweet treat, eat one! But do it mindfully so you don’t end up uncomfortably full later. Get a couple pieces of chocolate, a small bowl of ice cream, a cookie, or whatever it is you’re craving. And walk away. Leave the rest in the kitchen. Do your best to eat it slowly and without distractions like your phone or TV. ENJOY IT! If you still want more when you’re done, try to wait a bit to let your brain catch up with your stomach.

Get extra support if you need it – If you suspect the problem is deeper or that bingeing is becoming a serious habit, there’s no shame in asking for extra support from your doctor, dietitian, or therapist. Like I said before, it’s all about figuring out what your body needs! And sometimes that task is just too much to take on alone.

I know it’s super frustrating to feel like you’re “addicted” to certain foods. But really, it just takes time. Hopefully, some of these things help you change your relationship with sweets so you can include them in your diet in a healthy way!