How to Avoid a Binge – Willpower isn’t Enough, but Intelligence Can Be

Today I was at the grocery store, tasked with the purchase of candy for my kids’ candy bucket.  We don’t keep a lot of sugar in the house, just a small, 2 quart container full of their favorite treats, but it is where they go to pick their dessert and the occasional sweet reward.  The bucket holds caramels, mints, tootsie rolls, and random, fun size bars.  (Although my idea of fun is way, way, one million times bigger, it works for the kids’ tiny bodies.)

Our candy bucket was getting low, and so I promised them some more variety.  “Next time I’m at the store I’ll check.”

As I entered the candy aisle at the grocery store, I was feeling pretty good.  In fact, I felt almost nothing.  I was strong and sound of mind and spirit, I wasn’t hungry (always a plus), and I looked for a bag of candy like it was a carton of eggs.  No emotion, no dilemma, no chaos.

Then I saw the stupid cinnamon bears.


With a twinge and a groan, I felt the Binge Monster wake up inside of me.

“JUST BUY THEM YOU KNOW YOU WANT THEM, you only have to eat one.  JUST ONE.  You can stop after one.  You can.  I KNOW YOU CAN.”

Except I can’t.

There are some foods I just cannot have in the house or I will eat them ALL. Like chewy fruit candy, cinnamon bears, Australian liquorice, and koge. (Or 焦げ, which indirectly translates to “pretty much cocaine except it’s food.”)

Not only will I eat all of those things, after I start with them I will also eat one hundred other things that didn’t sound good until after the FIRST thing, because the first thing is like a gateway drug.

Yes, that’s it. Chewy fruit candy is my gateway drug.


I’ve read a few times in the last couple days, “I can’t even have one bite or I will lose control.” The people who said this were feeling bad, like “what’s wrong with me, I have no self control, I can’t get my shit straight, I should be able to go without.”

I get it, that mentality, because I have felt that way too. I felt like I should be able to LOCK THAT SHIT DOWN, stow the crazy, and just be normal around a bowl of Skittles instead of wanting to bury my face in it like a pubescent boy into a pair of boobies. “CONTROL YOURSELF, LAURVICK.”

The reality is, “I can’t.” YES I can control a compulsion, to an extent. I am getting pretty good about talking myself down from the ledge, I’m mentally stronger, I’m more mature (haha except for boobies comment), and I no longer give in to every whim and desire.

Still, I can’t always control it. I have a limit. I have a breaking point. I have a p-week-plus-work-stress-plus-no-sleep-plus-hormoney-housework-nightmare breaking point, and IF I DO NOT KEEP THAT IN MIND, I WILL CREATE AN OPPORTUNITY FOR PROBLEM.

Just like a porn addict avoids visual stimulus, or an alcoholic avoids booze, I have to avoid certain foods. HAVE TO. Not because they’ll kill me, not because they’ll set me back to where I was a year ago, but because IT’S JUST NOT WORTH IT. I know how hard it is to reconcile a binge after doing well for so long, and I don’t want to do it anymore.

To that end, no more Gushers in my house. I did NOT buy the bag of cinnamon bears at the store today. I did not make a cake last night for my birthday, and I only bake cookies when I have a place to give them away.

I am weak. I am powerless to the compulsion that sometimes tries to kidnap me, coaxing with promises of ecstasy and pleasure only found after I stuff myself to the gills with crappy food.

I am also strong, but most importantly I AM SMART. I am smarter than my impulse. I am more intelligent than the feral pleasure center of my brain. I can say no, and I CHOOSE to say no.

Sometimes controlling your eating disorder is less about “dodge the bullet, don’t eat the food,” but “don’t pull the trigger, don’t even go near the food.” Avoiding the trigger itself is way, way easier than trying to stop a bullet once it leaves the gun.

Avoiding a binge is not at all about will power, but it can absolutely be about smarts.


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