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Stocking: How Much is Really Enough?

by Carol Coven Grannick and Judith Matz

As you begin to work with the Overcoming Overeating approach, you will typically experience both excitement and fear. Legalizing foods!!! This means bringing in the very foods that have been forbidden—that you've been afraid of—for a very long time. So, you bring in cookies, candy, ice cream and pizza. But do you really have enough? The following are comments and questions we frequently hear, and suggestions to help you take stock of your current supplies:

"I brought in a pound of chocolate and ate it all in one day. I don't even really like chocolate, so why should I buy it again?"

The fact that you felt compelled to eat the chocolate as soon as you brought it in the house says that it is still an illegal food and that you need to continue to demystify the chocolate. It is not surprising that you found yourself overeating the chocolate at first because it has been forbidden for so long, and you are responding to the deprivation. However, it is essential that you bring in "more than enough" chocolate. Although one pound may seem like a lot after keeping it at a distance for so long, the fact that you finished it in one day says it is not!

Start with at least three times the amount you can imagine yourself eating in one day, or more; whatever amount makes you feel calm. So, you buy five (or 10 or 15) pounds of chocolate, so that it seems that the end is not in sight. Before your supplies diminish to the point where you can see the end—let's say three pounds—it's time to go to the store and restock back to five pounds. When you do this consistently (and promise yourself not to yell when you eat the chocolate), you will find that in a short period of time, the chocolate no longer "beckons" you.

"I like frozen yogurt and it's lower in fat than ice cream. Why is it necessary to bring ice cream in the house?"

If you really prefer frozen yogurt, there is no problem. Often, however, you are still attempting to control what you eat by calories, fat grams, etc., rather than truly equalizing all foods. So, if you find yourself at a party binging on a hot fudge sundae, you know you still need to legalize ice cream. Why not keep both in your house in abundance so that you can choose whichever one truly matches your stomach hunger? In other words, sometimes you want frozen yogurt and sometimes you want ice cream; both are available. If the ice cream is truly legal, keeping it in your freezer will feel calming rather than frightening.

"I've legalized pizza (substitute any food) and haven't wanted it for a month. Do I need to keep buying it?"

Yes! When you've put a particular food back in it's place, you may find that you no longer crave that item on a regular basis. But why not keep that food in your home in smaller quantities for the time when you may want it, in the same way that you might keep a dozen eggs in your refrigerator. Demand feeding means responding to your hunger as accurately as possible. Your ability to do this is dependent upon having enough of the foods you like available to you at all times. If, at some point in the future, you find that the particular item becomes illegal for you again, then it is time to go to the grocery store and stock up on that food as you did before.

More Stocking Tips:

  • As you bring in forbidden foods, remember to bring other foods that you enjoy too! You may not need to bring in ten pounds of carrots, but it's important to have fruits, vegetables, cheese, etc., around. For example, if you only have sweets in your house, but your stomach is hungry for a sandwich, you will have to turn to the sweets. Variety is essential.

  • Remove artificial boundaries. For example, one woman we know was eating exactly one bag of microwave popcorn every night. It seemed suspicious that her stomach was hungry for exactly the same amount of popcorn every night, so we advised her to prepare three bags at a time and pour them into a bowl. That way her stomach could decide whether she needed half a bag or two bags of popcorn rather than an external source (i.e., the packager of the popcorn) deciding for her. Boundaries can be removed from all sorts of packaging, including frozen foods, boxes of cookies or bags of candy, by placing them in large bowls or containers, thereby creating a sense of an infinite supply of food.

  • If you find that you always eat the amount of food that is on your plate, stock your plate! In other words, put more food on your plate than you could possibly finish, and leave it up to your stomach to determine when you have had enough.

  • When you cook, prepare large amounts of food.

  • Perhaps you've brought in six different kinds of potato chips, thinking that six bags were more than enough. But, if you find that a particular flavor or brand keeps disappearing, you need to increase the volume of that specific type of chip. You can still keep the other kinds around for the times that those flavors or textures may appeal to you.

  • Just when you thought all foods were legal, you come upon a new food that interests you. At this point, you may feel that it is only food—you buy it, eat it and enjoy it! If, however, you find there is a lot of intensity around the food, such as thinking about it often or feeling you "shouldn't" have it, then you need to stock it in the same way you have with other forbidden foods. You are not failing or losing ground; you've merely discovered another food that needs to be legalized.

  • Remember: You can never go wrong by having too much food; only by not having enough. As you create great abundance for yourself, you will feel significantly calmer around food and you will end up eating less. Formerly forbidden foods will stop glittering and begin to sit in your refrigerator, your cabinets and on your countertops or desk, decorating your surroundings and providing you with a very peaceful feeling: "It's there for me whenever I need it!"


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