I thin it’s safe to say that almost all of us have a trigger food. You know, a food that once you start eating it, you just can’t stop? Whether it’s healthy or not, it typically starts a chain reaction that can be so incredibly difficult to stop. Hence the name, trigger food.
Trigger foods – or it can be a trigger ingredient – causes you to lose control. And honestly – it can take a lot of work to dive into the emotional components that make up this trigger food. It takes a lot of practice and potentially trial and error, to figure out how to lessen the trigger and be in control but friend, I promise you it is possible!
Here are some things I do to keep my trigger foods (donuts and cookies!) in check:
- Do not keep trigger foods in the house. And if you do bring them in your house, keep it a single serving or two. It’s cheaper to buy a dozen donuts than 6 individuals. But if I buy a dozen I KNOW the rest of the family will eat 4-6 and I will end up eating the rest. If it isn’t in your house, you can’t eat it. You may get pissed at yourself when you’re in the middle of a full blown craving attack (been there!) but you’ll have stayed strong!
- Be aware of your mood when you eat a trigger food. When I’m in a good mood, feeling grounded, connected, happy – it is WAY easier for me to indulge in one or two cookies and walk away from the rest. When I’m stressed, it’s at the end of the day, or I’m just not feeling myself – I pretend that I’m only going to eat one to feel better, but before I know it, I have tore through the entire package.
- Avoid your trigger foods for awhile. Sometimes avoiding our trigger foods, and not reaching for new ones, helps us deal with emotional crap we’ve been avoiding. It can force us to ask WHY we’re actually craving the trigger. Maybe a work project has driven your stress level up and that piece of cake takes the edge of for a minute. Or your brain is on overload you go through an entire bag of chips because your mind is just racing? Instead of reaching for food – take a walk, meditate, journal – actually LOOK at what it is that is making you reach for food and breathe through it.
- Plan a date with your trigger food and prelog it into your macros. You may decide that life without your trigger food just ain’t happening. Then log a couple of servings into your tracker so you know you’ve got the treat coming up. And then make a big deal about it. Put it on a pretty plate, find a quiet spot, and savor every single bite. Make love to the dang thing. Whether it’s popcorn with m&ms and parmesan cheese or a bowl of ice cream – plan ahead and make it memorable!
- Eat a salad, carrot sticks, or other veggie soon after eating your trigger food. It helps get the sweet taste of your mouth and helps your brain flip its thought process a little bit.
- Brush your teeth. Brushing when you’re craving your trigger food helps you change your mind because most foods don’t taste fantastic after brushing your teeth! Brushing your teeth after eating a trigger food also helps get the taste of the trigger our of your mouth plus you know it’s not going to taste as good plus you just brushed your teeth…who wants to ruin that?!
- GET AWAY! Get out of the house, situation, where ever you are at and just leave! Or throw them in a trash can and throw more trash on top. That could work too 😉
- Make it hard to get to. Research shows that if something is harder to get, we’re less likely to do it. So put those triggers foods up high, behind a bunch of stuff, making it a hassle to get to it. There’s a slim change you’re craving won’t match the effort needed to retrieve the food.
Here’s something to remember though – if you’re in a deficit, avoiding your trigger foods may be the best way to go. Our bodies and minds are stressed when we’re in a cut and eating a trigger food when we’re stressed usually just turns into disaster…and while it feels great in the moment, the post-binge blues don’t feel so hot. As you reverse back to maintenance, you WILL have more room, mentally and macro-budget wise to bring those things back!