Podcast Episodes

Afraid to Keep Certain Foods in the House? How to “Decharm” Your Binge Foods 

June 23, 2023

Self-Paced Course: Non-Diet Academy


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A Certified Eating Disorders Registered Dietitian (CEDRD) with a master's degree in dietetics & nutrition. My passion is helping you find peace with food - and within yourself.

Meet Katy

Today on the show we are going to talk about those foods you’re afraid to keep in the house because you don’t trust yourself with them, or they call to you. 

These might be foods that you’ve binged on, or foods that you feel like you eat too much of when you allow yourself to have them, and you’re probably worried that they’re going to make you unhealthy, so there’s guilt associated with them.

Is any of this sounding familiar? I thought so. This is pretty relatable for most people. 

But wouldn’t it be cool if you could have these foods in the house and enjoy them without going overboard, and maybe even forget that they’re there.

So how do we get you there? That’s exactly what we’re going to cover on this episode today. 

The term “de-charming” was taught to me by my mentor, a fellow dietitian named Kathi Bjerg. I’m actually not sure where she picked up the term and if it was hers or if she borrowed it from someone else. If anyone listening knows the origin of this term as it relates to making peace with food, let me know because I certainly want to give credit where credit is due. I have used this strategy with myself and hundreds of my individual clients for over 10 years now, and I can tell you: IT WORKS. 
AND it can be terrifying, because basically what we are doing is repeatedly and intentionally having you eat the foods that you’re scared to keep in the house. 

In the book Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, they refer to this concept as “systematic dehabituation,” and it is an evidence-based strategy for neutralizing things we are afraid of. If we break down the terminology, we can see that it’s “systematic,” meaning that it’s structured and intentional. And we are “dehabituating” you to the fear food.

Let’s take a moment to notice some themes about these foods. The specific foods will be a little different for everyone, but in my experience they are almost always the foods that you have told yourself you can’t have, that you weren’t supposed to have on certain diets, the foods that you have labeled as “bad/unhealthy” in your mind, and the foods that you feel guilty for eating. 

Now that you’ve visualized some foods that might have charm for you, we want to think about why de-charming is an essential part of making peace with food. Most people assume that if they have foods they can’t trust themselves with they should just keep them out of the house. The logic makes sense on the surface, right? If you are likely to overeat or binge on a food, just don’t keep it around and you can’t binge on it. 

But here’s the problem…

This approach actually sets you up to binge on it the next time you allow yourself to have it. This becomes a vicious cycle. You might have heard it referred to as the restrict-binge cycle. Physical and mental deprivation are forms of restriction that infinitely increase the likelihood of binging on those foods, and on food in general. 

So then you’re in this bind where the thing you’re trying to do to help yourself not binge is making you more likely to binge in the future.

I’ve got you. I’m going to share some strategies for HOW to do this so it doesn’t go off the rails. But first I want you to understand the fundamental reasoning behind the de-charming strategy.  

There are 3 strategies to de-charming – from least structured to most structured. 

  1. To start keeping it in the house and give yourself permission to have it when you want it
  2. To pick a charmed food and include it each day in some way
  3. To pick a specific brand and flavor of a charmed food and have it with every meal and snack

In the workshop I’ll also be covering:

  • Taking an inventory of which foods in your life have charm, and how to decide which ones to work on first (you might not want to start with the most challenging one)
  • Pitfalls and mistakes to watch out for so that this doesn’t turn into a free-for-all with food
  • The cognitive restructuring and changing how you think and feel about the foods that have charm for you
  • We’re going to create an action plan for decharming a specific food right away – so if you want a super hands-on experience where I will help you set up this experiment, then the workshop is perfect for you.

So if you want me to hold your hand and create your game plan for decharming, grab a ticket to the workshop. It’s at nondietacademy.com/empowered.

I hope that no matter what you’ll take the strategies I covered here and pick one to apply so you can start de-charming your binge foods right away. This is going to really increase the peace and freedom that you feel with food overall!

If you enjoyed this episode do me a favor and rate and review my podcast, will you? It is SO helpful for this show to reach other people, and that’s how we spread the word to take down diet culture one day a time. Each and every rating and review really does make a difference, and I read all of them. I appreciate you so much. Be kind to yourself, and be compassionate.

Did you know you can listen to all this information in audio format?

I covered it all in Episode 82 Afraid to Keep Certain Foods in the House? How to “Decharm” Your Binge Foods

Or, listen & subscribe on your favorite platform:  Apple Podcasts  | Spotify | Deezer |  Google

Search for Episode 82 – Afraid to Keep Certain Foods in the House? How to “Decharm” Your Binge Foods

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