Food Triggers 101

by | Mar 22, 2019 | Last updated Feb 25, 2023

You have taken time to plan, prep, and prepare your foods. This week is going to be great! Nothing is standing in the way of your health goals – Well nothing except that Sunday visit to your parent’s house.

When you arrive you are greeted with the warmest hugs, biggest smiles and a counter full of chips, cookies, candy and cakes. Not only have your parents graciously offered you anything you want to eat. They have also so kindly packed you a bag of delightful goodies (for your kids of course.) to travel home with you.  

And so it begins, the torrid love affair with your favorite, not so favorite foods.

We all have them, foods that we can’t seem to put down no matter how hard we try.

Trigger foods are any foods that “trigger” an emotional, compulsive response.  In most cases these foods will contain one of the big 3’s fat, salt, or sugar.

These foods are biologically designed to keep us craving more. Sugar, for instance stimulates the brain’s reward center through dopamine, which leaves us desiring more and more, so before we know it that one piece of chocolate has turned into the whole box.

So what are some ways to gain control over those triggers?

  1. Set your environment up for success

Removing foods from your home, office or car in order for you to avoid consuming the bag of candy in one sitting does NOT in any way mean that you are weak or have no will power. It actually means you are demonstrating super human ability in creating successful environments!!

  1. Interrupt yourself

Take time to slow down and know why you are eating – are you hungry, stressed, bored or exhausted from a long day?  After those first couple bites, being mindful of what emotion or desire you are feeding can help you to put down that greasy slice of leftover pizza and choose a fresh salad instead. If after taking time to slow down you recognize that you are not truly hungry opt to step away from the temptation and indulge yourself with a  self-care activity – like reading a book or taking a nice long shower!

  1. Build confidence

Begin to build confidence by cultivating experiences where you know you can successfully practice portion control. For instance,if you eat potato chips at home you may be prone to continue eating the whole bag, but if you order a grilled chicken sandwich with a side of potato chips at a restaurant you will only eat what is on your plate.  By slowly exposing yourself to foods that you perceive as bad or taboo you can begin to find peace through moderation and break free from the guilt cycle!

Author: Tammy Taylor