How to conquer “fear foods”

Before diving into this post, a quick announcement! I’ve started creating “freebies”! I will be sharing freebies that you can download and save or print to keep handy!

We all have them – Fear Foods. These are the foods that you simultaneously love and desire while being terrified that very love and desire will cause you to have some highly undesired consequences, such as loss of control and weight gain. In this post, I’ll share how you can conquer your fear foods, but FIRST…

What are we to do about The Fear Food Problem? Here are some options:

  1. Never eat your fear foods. This sucks because remember the first part, you love and desire these foods. Never eating them sounds awful. Also, research has shown that when you deprive yourself of food in general or specific foods, your body only craves them more. Ever experienced that? Yep, I thought so…
  2. Say F-it, and eat them freely. Doesn’t this sound great? Intuitive eating actually suggests that you WOULD do this. But it would be the freedom that comes from really knowing you can have these foods anytime you want. If you just say F-it and eat them, you likely still have it in your head that these fear foods are “bad”, feel guilt, and the need to restrict “starting tomorrow”.

In my recovery from anorexia, I have come face-to-face with my fear foods. For some years, I didn’t allow myself to eat most of the things I really enjoyed. I convinced myself that if a “safe” (i.e. lower calorie, lower fat) version of it was tasty, why would I choose the “unsafe” higher calorie, full fat version?

A year into recovery, I can say that I have conquered a lot of my fear foods. If you are hoping to enjoy all your favorites again without fear, this post is for you!

How to Conquer Fear Foods

  • Context matters – you need to feel as comfortable as possible. Choose a place where you eat mindfully, focused on your experience of the food, and not worried about what’s happening around you. I’ve found my home or a cafe to be safe places for me.
  • Coping skills – these will be individual to you. What do you do to cope in challenging situation? What helps you to succeed? For me, it’s prayer, deep breathing, and truth reminders (i.e. fact-checking). One of my favorite truths: there are no “good” or “bad” foods – these are all cultural labels our society has used to scare us into diet culture beliefs!
  • Process and Progress, not Perfection – Just as climbers don’t conquer Everest the first time they think about doing it, you need a process for conquering fear foods.

My process for conquering a fear food looks something like this:

  1. Visualize – I seriously just think about what it would be like to conquer this food in my head for a long time before I actually do anything.
  2. I’m Going In – Just go in…to the grocery store section/aisle, the restaurant, or wherever…just go in. There is no pressure to do anything more.
  3. Order/Buy – After considering and looking at the item several times, at some point I decide to buy it. Just because I buy it, doesn’t mean I have to eat it. This has helped me immensely in conquering fear foods. I decide each step; no one else does.
  4. Eat the amount you want – It’s all up to you, including the quantity. Give yourself permission to eat the amount that your body wants. This requires learning to tune into your hunger and fullness cues, a key part of Intuitive Eating. Feel freedom to stop eating when you are full, knowing you can have it again anytime. Feel freedom to eat the whole portion if it’s delicious and you want to!
  5. Reflect – How do you feel? What did you learn from the experience (remember, there are NO failures!)? Celebrate and acknowledge that you are growing in freedom from diet culture and leaning into honoring your hunger.
  6. Set a new goal – Based on your experience, what’s next? Do you want to try the same food in a different way? Try a different food? Invite a friend into your next experience?
I’ve come a long way with conquering bagels & cream cheese, one of my fear foods!

I would love to hear in the comments about your fear foods and any tips you have for how you WIN!

Remember to download your freebie!

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Em says:

    The download is awesome. Thank you. It’s good advice that I’m going to work on implementing. I’m relatively stable but still seriously restricted in the foods I “let” myself eat.

    1. I’m so glad it’s helpful! I definitely still have fear foods but have made a lot of progress over the past year!

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