Help for a Halloween sugar binge

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Help for a Halloween sugar binge

A friend of mine calls it the “Halloween hangover” – when you wake up November 1st feeling sick to your stomach – and sick to your heart – after gorging on sugar Halloween night. If you’re feeling badly, I want to offer compassion. It’s hard not to eat sugar on a holiday that celebrates it and seems to offer it everywhere. So if you ate a little too much sugar, please – be gentle with yourself. Forgive yourself.

Not only does self judgment break our own hearts, but it keeps us from learning, growing and changing. That’s because when we shame ourselves for making a mistake, the brain moves into fight or flight. We get tight and tense and lose access to the higher regions of the brain where we can learn, grow and choose differently next time.

So being kind to yourself is not only merciful, but also the ground for creating new, healthy habits. If you’d like more practical tips, here are some ideas on how you can care for your body, mind and heart after a sugar binge:

How to care for your body:

  • Don’t fast or skip meals the next day. I know it may feel counterintuitive to eat when you’re feeling bloated (or guilty about what you ate yesterday), but skipping meals only exacerbates the binge cycle and disrupts your blood sugar. Skipping meals is often a subtle form of self punishment or a way to “make up” for a binge.
  • The day after a big sugar binge, eat light meals of cooling foods. Think lots of vegetables or broth bathed soups – foods that are alkaline to the body and easy to digest. One of my favorite light meals is sauteed vegetables and herbs in butter (I like onions, zucchini, garlic, carrots, green onions, basil, and ) over creamy millet. I use a 3 to 1 ratio of veggies to millet. I also like scrambled eggs in butter with lots and lots of veggies.
  • Drink tea. If you feel bloated, peppermint tea is soothing to the digestive system and tastes good on cool fall days. My favorite is grandma’s tummy mint by Celestial Seasonings.
  • Try taking some probiotics. In my experience, they help stabilize the digestive system and clean out the excess sugar.
  • Eat other tastes. After eating so many sweet foods, you may feel soothed by eating foods from the other flavors – especially sour, pungent, or bitter foods.
  • Eat fermented foods like plain kefir or fermented vegetables. They’re full of probiotics and are soothing to your digestive system.

How to care for your mind:

  • Bingeing is *not* about will power! We don’t binge to hurt ourselves. Neither do we binge because we don’t know better – this is not about knowledge or even skill. We binge to meet an unmet need or because of deep emotions that are stirred up inside us. So uncovering your needs and honoring them, and feeling and mixing your emotions is how you heal the desire for sugar at the root. (This is what I teach in my sugar programs.) What need were you trying to meet when you ate sugar?
  • If you’re still stumped, try using the free Binge Rescue worksheet to uncover more about what drives your bingeing. (It’s also helpful for preventing a binge in the first place.)
  • We all have different “parts” inside – and their needs can be very different! Which part of you binged on sugar – was it your inner rebel, the part of you who says, “I want to eat whatever the heck I want?” Or your inner child, the part of you who wants to play and be little? Learn how caring for these parts can soothe the need to binge.

How to care for your heart:

  • Be very, very kind to yourself. You are not your bingeing, what you eat, or how much you weigh.
  • Drop the judgment. Please don’t add guilt onto the pain you already feel. In Eastern teachings, this is called adding the 2nd arrow. While, yes, the 1st arrow  – the binge – hurts, we shoot ourselves with a 2nd arrow when we judge ourselves for it. This only compounds our pain. We can’t always stop the 1st arrow, but we can choose not to nail ourselves with the 2nd one…
  • Forgive yourself. As painful as it may feel, a binge isn’t the end of the world – it’s just proof of our tender humanity. As Jack Kornfield put it, “Life is so hard, how can we be anything but kind?” If you’re caught in self blame, soften into your grief. Blame can be described as a lazy form of grief – when we blame ourselves, we aren’t feeling our more tender feelings of regret, sadness, or frustration. It’s by feeling these more tender feelings that the blame and judgment softens.
  • Feel your grief. If I had to offer 1 tool that heals a sugar addiction, I would choose grief:  it’s that powerful, from the brain level up. It sounds counterintuitive, but one of the primary ways we learn from our mistakes is by fully registering feelings of futility:  that what we’re doing isn’t working. This is done through grief. In my experience, regret is a different animal than guilt or shame. Crying our tears – accepting what we can’t change (like the sugar binge that already happened, or the fact that our body is super sensitive to sugar) is what helps us move forward and change what we can. It’s how we stop banging our head against the same wall and feeling the same pain. I invite you to read more about this process in the post, how grieving heals your sugar addiction.
  • Soothe the voice of despair - the voice that says, “I’ll never change, I’m a fat cow, or I’m a broken mess.” Despair is a form of fight or flight (it’s the “freeze” response.) It happens when the pain of life feels too much to bear – when this happens, our brains go to defend us. Ironically, one of the ways they defend us is by attacking ourselves (or others.) The key to softening self attack – and despair – is to open to our vulnerability. This can’t be forced, but we can invite it in ourselves. I share more about softening despair and moving out of self attack in The 30 Day Lift.
  • Hold yourself tenderly. When the voice of your inner critic rears up – and you feel its tug at your insides, telling you all the things that are terrible about yourself – stop. Pause, slow down, and put your hand on your heart. Whisper softly to yourself, “Sh, sh, I love all of me.” (My friend Maureen taught me this phrase. It’s incredibly powerful and soothing.)

And here’s how to do all three – how to care for your body, mind and heart by putting your sweet, sweet self to rest. It’s the foundation, your base camp – both for growing self love and for soothing the need to binge.

For further reading:

Wanting more hands on help?

If you’d like a gentle, compassionate program for the first 30 days on a low or no sugar diet, The 30 Day Lift is for you. The 30 Day Lift is intentionally different than any other sugar detox program, as it focuses on healing the emotional and psychological roots of sugar addiction, drawing from neuroscience, self compassion, and developmental psychology.

This is what helps us outgrow a sugar habit (versus trying to “be good” or control our habits with will power, which doesn’t work.) Right now, I’m leading a group through the 30 Day Lift with the next online class session Wednesday November 6th. Learn more here.



How to Say 'No' to Sugar

30 days of help to heal the roots of cravings, inside & out

If you compulsively crave or eat sugar for emotional support, to self soothe, or to manage stress, you may feel frustrated by a habit that feels out of your control. You don't have to feel enslaved by sugar or sugar cravings.

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There's a way to heal your sugar obsession so you're no longer compulsively eating sugar, craving it, or bingeing on it – but the answer isn't what you think. It's not found in a perfect diet, will power, self control, behavior modification or even a sugar abstinence...

In a gentle transition over 30 days, learn:

  • how to say no to the impulse to binge or compulsively eat sugar
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As seen on: As seen in Woman's World, MSN, ABC, Yahoo!, Huffington Post, and more!

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About the Author:

Karly Randolph Pitman
Karly Randolph Pitman helps men & women transform food compulsions like binge eating, sugar addiction, and body obsession through compassion and connection, from the inside out. In her classes and courses, she teaches people how to say no to sugar, binge eating, and body obsession - but the answer isn't what they think. Rather than learning strategies to control or manage the compulsion itself, Karly's “heart over binge” approach heals the inner dynamics that drive it, leading to freedom, relief and hope.


  1. 2 a day diet japan l November 14, 2013 at 1:58 pm - Reply

    Help for a Halloween sugar binge | First Ourselves

  2. Karly Randolph Pitman
    Karly Randolph Pitman November 6, 2013 at 4:18 pm - Reply

    Hi Kitty,

    So glad this nourished you. Yes, when I find it hard to find kindness for myself, it helps to borrow it, to let others hold the space when I'm finding it hard to do on my own.

    In love and care, Karly

  3. Kitty C. November 5, 2013 at 8:15 pm - Reply

    Thank you – I enjoy all your posts but I especially love this one. When everything hurts and you can't be kind to yourself, a kind blog post like this one can make all the difference.


  4. Karly Randolph Pitman
    Karly Randolph Pitman November 4, 2013 at 5:50 pm - Reply

    You're so welcome, Nadja. I'm glad it was just what you needed. Warmly, Karly

  5. Nadja November 1, 2013 at 9:24 pm - Reply

    Perfectly timely as always, Karly! What a beautiful – and oh so gentle – post filled with all the very words I so needed to hear. Bless yo

    u, SuperSugarWoman :-D

  6. Karly Randolph Pitman
    Karly Randolph Pitman October 31, 2012 at 7:42 pm - Reply

    Thank you, Stef! I want to offer a warm welcome to all of you from Paleo for Women.

    XO, Karly

  7. [...] Third, my lovely friend and brilliant colleague Karly Randolph Pitman has written a guide to navigating the (sometimes) frightening waters of Halloween and Sugar Mania.  Jump at the link for her post, her work, and her wide variety of programs designed to help you overcome sugar addiction with radical compassion.   See the post here. [...]

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