Fear of Food

Marie avoided eating potato chips, French fries, onion rings, and crackers. Although she loved these foods, they would trigger cravings and once she started eating them, she found it quite difficult to stop. Marie actually developed a fear of these foods. She was sure she would lose control if she ate them.

I told Marie that I wanted her to start planning to eat one these foods a day (perhaps a couple of times a week), so she could learn how to stop. I explained that I didn’t think it was reasonable for her to avoid them for life, especially if she really liked them.

We made a plan. Marie would read her reasons for losing weight just before dinner and her other response cards. She would alert her husband about the plan. At the restaurant, she would order French fries (and a small plate) along with her healthy dinner. When the fries arrived, she would immediately put the extra fries on the small plate and ask the waiter to take them away.

Marie was a little hesitant. What would the waiter think? We agreed he probably would think, “This customer is on a diet.” Then he would turn his attention to his next task.

Marie tried it. It was much easier than she thought. She didn’t lose control. She did want more when she was finished but she told herself she would have more again within the next couple of days. She’s still a little fearful about eating some of her other trigger foods, but we’ll work on them together.

4 replies
  1. lm
    lm says:

    I have to admit I’m a little confused.
    Let’s assume Marie had something in her physiognomy that reacted adversely to the free radicals in the fried onion rings, or sent her serotonin spiraling crazily in response to the simple carbs in the French fries.

    Without knowing whether or not that was something her body was prone to, you’re telling us you’d force her to – excuse me, suggest that she – “learn to eat just one” so she wouldn’t be afraid of them??

  2. Amy
    Amy says:

    Im ~
    That’s a big assumption. Seems a bit of a stretch to me. I’ve read a lot about nutrition but I’ve never heard of a free radical in an onion ring that could send someone’s seritonin spiriling crazily.

    I’m not convinced that major mood swings are caused by a small serving of onion rings.

    That said, I tried one of my formerly favorite foods as an experiment this weekend. I bought a 300 cal bag of potato chips on Saturday and planned on eating it Sunday. Two interesting things happened – the food tasted greasy and heavy, for one, and two I didn’t finish the bag, throwing the last bit away.

    I love carbs and fat, but not packaged that way anymore (like I used to)

    ~ I’ve lost 13 pounds since Jan 2009 and on most days I eat 1850 calories

  3. Amy
    Amy says:

    Im ~
    Let me just amend my comment a little. I’m not saying that I don’t believe you. There’s a lot i don’t know. I’m saying that this example here isn’t about a person who has seritonin surges from foods. That’s a different situation. This example is about trying to integrate and accept something you’re afraid of, to habituate to a small amount of it so it’s not such a big deal. So you can enjoy what you really like that doesn’t hurt you, in small quantities fairly often.

    Of course if your experience is that certain foods need to be off limits because of their physical effects on you then that’s something different. My diabetic friend comes to mind. Of course foods influence our hormones and moods. Sorry if I gave the wrong impression of being skeptical and critical – didn’t mean to

  4. Lauren
    Lauren says:

    I love this! I so often struggle with what the waiter is going to think, and when I read this, it seems almost silly the amount of energy I put into managing what other people think. So helpful, thank you!


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