A friend of mine calls it the “Halloween hangover” – when you wake up November 1st feeling sick to your stomach – and sick to your heart – after gorging on sugar Halloween night (or on any night, for that matter!)
First, if you’re feeling badly, I want to offer you compassion. It’s hard not to eat sugar on a holiday that celebrates it and seems to offer it everywhere. So if you ate a little too much sugar, please – be gentle with yourself. Forgive yourself.
Not only does self judgment break our own hearts, but it keeps us from learning, growing and changing. That’s because when we shame ourselves for making a mistake, the brain moves into fight or flight. We get tight and tense and lose access to the higher regions of the brain where we can learn, grow and choose differently next time.
So being kind to yourself is not only kind, but what is also most conducive to creating new, healthy habits.
If you’d like more practical tips, here are some ideas on how you can care for your body, mind and heart after a sugar binge:
How to care for your body:
- Don’t fast or skip meals the next day. I know it may feel counterintuitive to eat when you’re feeling bloated (or guilty about what you ate yesterday), but skipping meals only exacerbates the binge cycle and disrupts your blood sugar. Skipping meals is often a subtle form of self punishment or a way to “make up” for the binge.
- The day after a big sugar binge, eat light meals of cooling foods. Think lots of vegetables or broth bathed soups – foods that are alkaline to the body and easy to digest. One of my favorite light meals is sauteed vegetables and herbs in butter (I like onions, zucchini, garlic, carrots, green onions, basil, and ) over creamy millet. I use a 3 to 1 ratio of veggies to millet. I also like scrambled eggs in butter with lots and lots of veggies (I only like eggs if they have tons of veggies in them – it’s a taste/texture issue for me – but you may like eggs on their own.)
- If you feel bloated, peppermint tea is soothing to the digestive system and tastes good on cool fall days.
- Try taking some probiotics. In my experience, they help stabilize the digestive system and clean out the excess sugar.
- After eating so many sweet foods, you may feel soothed by eating foods from the other flavors – especially sour, pungent, or bitter foods.
- Try eating fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, or fermented vegetables. They’re full of probiotics and are soothing to your digestive system.
How to care for your mind:
- Bingeing is *not* about will power! We don’t binge to hurt ourselves – we do it to meet an unmet need. What need were you trying to meet when you ate sugar?
- If you’re still stumped, try using the free Binge Rescue worksheet to uncover more about what drives your bingeing. (It’s also helpful for preventing a binge in the first place.)
- We all have different “parts” inside – and their needs can be very different! Which part of you binged on sugar – was it your inner rebel, the part of you who says, “I want to eat whatever the heck I want?” Or your inner child, the part of you who wants to play and be little? Learn how caring for these parts can soothe the need to binge.
How to care for your heart:
- Be very, very kind to yourself. See your goodness. You are not your bingeing, what you eat, or how much you weigh.
- Drop the judgment. Please, please don’t add guilt onto the pain you already feel. This is called adding the 2nd arrow. While, yes, the 1st arrow – the binge – hurts, we shoot ourselves with a 2nd arrow when we judge ourselves for it. This only compounds our pain. We can’t always stop the 1st arrow, but we can choose not to nail ourselves with the 2nd one…
- Feel your grief. Cry your tears if you’re feeling regret. In my experience, regret is a different animal than guilt or shame. Crying our tears – accepting what we can’t change (like the sugar binge that already happened!) is what helps us move forward and change what we can – this present moment. Read more about this process in the post, what to do when you mess up.
- Soothe the voice of despair – the voice that says, “I’ll never change, I’m a fat cow, or I’m a broken mess.” Despair is a form of fight or flight (it’s the “freeze” response.) When we get caught in it, it’s easy to stay stuck in hopelessness, feeling like nothing will ever change or get better. I love Geneen Roth’s helpful phrase for soothing despair – “No situation is unworkable.”
- Hold yourself tenderly. When the voice of your inner critic rears up – and you feel its tug at your insides, telling you all the things that are terrible about yourself – stop. Pause, slow down, and put your hand on your heart. Whisper softly to yourself, “Sh, sh, I love all of me.” (My friend Maureen taught me this phrase. It’s incredibly powerful and soothing.) I also like to tell myself, “I will not make war against my own heart.”
And here’s how to do all three – how to care for your body, mind and heart by putting your sweet, sweet self to rest. It’s the foundation, your base camp – both for growing self love and for soothing the need to binge.
Wanting more hands on help?
- You may enjoy reading this article on how to recover from a food binge.
- No one is perfect. That includes me. Here are 3 things I learned when I went back to eating sugar.
- Go here to download the first few chapters of my book, Overcoming Sugar Addiction. It’s been called “the best sugar book out there.” You can also buy it on amazon here.
- If you’d like a gentle, compassionate program for the first 30 days on a low or no sugar diet, The 30 Day Lift is for you.
- Overcoming Sugar Addiction for Life offers practices and tools to heal the emotional roots of sugar addiction. (Follow the link to sample the first CD.)
For further reading:
- You may like this video post on how I befriended my little sugar binge devil.
- You can walk away from a binge
- Soften the impulse to eat sugar
I will never, ever give up on you – or me. A binge really isn’t the end of the world – it’s just proof of our tender humanity. As Jack Kornfield put it, “Life is so hard, how can we be anything but kind?” Amen. I couldn’t say it any better.