Trigger foods can get you when you least expect it.
I remember very vividly where a trigger food “got me” unexpectedly. I was in the second or third week of yet another WW experience, and happily watching television one afternoon while my girls slept. There on the television screen popped up an advertisement for a delicious looking chocolate dessert.
I watched the commercial intently, and almost felt my mouth water with anticipation. I sternly told myself, “You must not get up and make something like that.” But before I could even completely process the thought, I had hauled myself up off the couch, and wandered into the kitchen.
Almost without thinking, I began opening cabinets to see what I had. Oh darn, I didn’t have any chocolate available, because after all, I was supposed to be losing weight! “But wait,” I thought, “There’s the cocoa powder, which when combined with the proper ingredients can yield a huge variety of delicious chocolate desserts.” I ended up making two dozen chocolate cupcakes, complete with frosting, and ate a dozen of them before John came home from dinner. That’s a trigger food.
What foods trigger that kind of strong reaction in you? Most trigger foods seem to be those made with refined, white sugar or highly processed ingredients, or both. That certainly was true for me. It’s important during your weight loss journey to know what foods trigger undesirable responses for you.
When you get right down to it, a trigger food triggers an emotional reaction that results in you overeating or being tempted to overeat.
What are some things that you can do to identify your trigger foods? Ask yourself these questions with regards to certain foods:
♦ Portion control goes out the window with what food?
♦ What food would you be embarrassed to show someone how much you eat when you are “on a roll?”
♦ What food is hard for you to turn down?
For me, my trigger food was, and still is to some extent, chocolate. I loved it, and still do. It could be anything, as long as chocolate was the main ingredient – cookies, cakes, pies, candy, fudge, or brownies. No matter where I was in my weight loss journey, chocolate was always a problem for me. So how did I go from being completely unable to control my chocolate intake, to being able to enjoy chocolate desserts without fearing failure?
In the beginning:
I rid the house of chocolate, and cocoa powder. This might not be your choice, but this is what worked for me. I got rid of any food item containing chocolate, or any food item capable of being combined to make a chocolate treat. After several weeks, I was able to reintroduce chocolate into the house, but still in small amounts, for I still didn’t have good control.
I wrote down all the things I could eat instead of chocolate. This was hard, because I wasn’t a big fan of veggies and fruits, but I learned to appreciate them. Some of the things on my list besides fruits and veggies were homemade fruit popsicles, ginger snaps, tootsie rolls (or chocolate wax as John calls them), pudding, and hard candy.
I became aware of the situations involving my trigger food. It wasn’t just a picture of chocolate cake that would send me running to the pantry. There were also emotional triggers that made me desire chocolate. Becoming cognizant of these emotions helped me resist the urge to overeat.
Over time, I was able to have chocolate treats, always keeping them small and manageable. This was so I didn’t deprive myself of a food I genuinely loved, but wasn’t able to trust myself to have around the house in unlimited quantities. For me, the important thing about trigger foods was becoming aware of them, and having a plan to help overcome the temptation they held.
As you work through your weight loss journey, always keep in mind that “diet land” often isn’t part of “real life land.” When I lost weight, I wanted to do something that I could continue forever. Strive to keep that in mind as you plan your program, and live your life. You can get ahead of your trigger foods, and avoid the “gotcha!”
I’d love it if you’d share any strategies you have for avoiding the trigger food trap in the comments or through email. Diane