WHACK! How to win at Whack-A-Mole During Challenging Times

Have you ever played the game of Whack-A-Mole? It is the classic game where you use a mallet to try and hit animated moles. As you hit one mole, another pops up without any discernible pattern. Then another, and so on. You are rewarded for hitting fast and hard, and to win, you need to be focused and quick to respond.

Anyone else feel like you’re in the middle of Whack-A-Mole? It seems like we don’t even have enough time to process one difficult reality before another one surfaces.

As these challenging times continue, our eating behaviors, habits and overall health, including mental health, are absolutely influenced. Like whack-a-mole, surprising cravings or new behaviors may catch us by surprise. Then when we try to hit one thing, another sneaks up. 

Let’s pretend there are four moles we are trying to hit. These moles make us feel uncomfortable when they pop up or when they won’t stay down. The following “moles” are going to be given a name -- a name that we might relate to given the circumstances. To be clear, we all cope differently, and that is OK. Let awareness be your ally. 

Mole #1: Bingey, the Mole Who Aches Inside

A binge is not eating a handful of candy. A binge is not eating an entire box of crackers. A binge-eating episode may entail eating a cheeseburger, french fries, jar of peanut butter and then diving into the candy. Once the binge starts, one typically feels out of control and eats to the point of pain and discomfort. Shame and guilt quickly follow. The rush and high from the binge quickly turns into a paralyzing low, and there lies the aching mole. 

Right now, those that are diagnosed with Binge Eating Disorder (BED) may be at greater risk for binge-eating episodes, in terms of greater binge frequency and/or potential greater binge intensity. If you do not have this diagnosis but have experienced compulsive eating or a true binge then be aware that this is an extremely vulnerable time.

None of us are immune to this type of eating behavior. Some may not relate at all; however, BED is the most common eating disorder in America and this has been one of the most stressful times in America. 

Now is the optimal time to continue working with a therapist or to start the process of working with a therapist. A lot of therapists are offering sliding scale payment if one is worried about payment. 

Your First Steps to Defeating Bingey Mole

Check out any of these by our Freedom With Food experts:

Mole #2: Suga Suga, the Pesky Mole

We are born to love sweetness. We are born to enjoy carbohydrates and perceive them as a source of energy and comfort. 

As we continue to be relatively isolated and social distancing, we probably long for some degree of nourishment. We have needs that aren’t being met; we all need some degree of community and social connection. Food, specifically foods with carbohydrates and/or sugar, can be the immediate fix. Foods such as baked goods like cookies, brownies and cakes, as well as pasta, crackers, candy, and more can easily become our main source of energy. 

Becoming overly dependent on these foods is something to caution. If we were to slow down for a moment and recognize how this makes us actually feel then we can easily recognize that we aren’t feeling as full after eating, we may have less overall energy and feel the need to take a nap. Napping is fine, but a food-induced nap isn’t always what we are looking for. 

Sugar is not the enemy. Carbohydrates are not inherently bad, nor the problem. They easily become the quick fix versus taking a moment to see if it is really what we need at that point in time. Sometimes, it may be exactly what we need. Other times, it may not be the healthiest choice. 

Your First Steps to Defeating the Suga Suga Mole

  • During the times when sugar or carbs are not the answer, try taking a 20-minute walk or leave the kitchen to get your mind in a different place in order to process what you actually need. 
  • Check out this tool if you want to try some breathwork.

Mole #3: Road Runner, the Antsy Mole

Anyone a fan of Looney Tunes? Road Runner was always going somewhere and “Beep Beep!” was his way of letting others know he was about to come through...and fast! 

We might all have a family member who is struggling sitting still right now. They may be pushing the boundaries when it comes to going out versus staying at home. They may be trying to live life exactly how it was before COVID-19. This is risky.

Let’s face it, it can be uncomfortable to be in a state of stillness. We don’t know what tomorrow entails. Some of you may be feeling bored and are looking for things to do; however, this can be a time to allow yourself to settle down a bit and rest from previous months of hustling. It is OK to watch a movie in the middle of the afternoon. It is okay to feel less productive right now. We are all processing this differently, but giving yourself time to rest is OK

Your first steps to defeating the Road Runner Mole

Mole #4: Sofa, the Slow-Moving Mole

The opposite of the Road Runner is the slow mover. Just because you may be struggling to be productive, it doesn’t mean that you are not active. There could be A LOT internally going on and it is OK to need time to process and reset. For those who have a history of depression, this may sound familiar. 

Second, having some sort of structure to your days could be a place to start. Getting to bed at a certain time could be worth considering if you are staying up past midnight on a regular basis. Getting up by a certain time is another way to kick start the day. If you are struggling to get out of bed, please seek therapeutic support OR reach out to someone who can give you some genuine help and steer you in a healthy direction. 

Chronic hypo-arousal is also risky. You still need to take care of yourself and feeling paralyzed to do anything means something needs to change. Eating three meals a day, getting outside at least once per day and connecting with at least one person a day is going to be key for your overall well-being. 

Your first steps to defeating the Sofa Mole

In the end, be patient with yourself as you attack your moles. Start slowly, but wield your mallet mightily. And remember -- we all cope differently, and that is OK.

From all of us at Skyterra, we wish you health!