What is a true trigger food? A trigger food is any food that is not only very hard for you to resist, but one that causes you to return to behaviors you have given up, including overeating (on the trigger food and others) and maybe even dropping your fitness regimen.
Any food that not only looks good to you but has the power to derail you from your goals in exchange for one moment of pleasure and initiates an avalanche of poor eating and behavioral choices can be considered a trigger food. But how do you learn to notice this type of dietary downward spiral before it’s too late?
First, Just Observe
You may already notice that certain foods seem irresistible, while others are easy to pass by. If you have never kept a food journal or monitored what you eat and when, now is an excellent time to look beneath the surface of your eating habits and figure out why you consume what you do, and when. By mapping out your eating habits, you can determine which foods trigger overeating and which you don’t have as hard a time ignoring at the hors d’oeuvres table.
When you have a few foods written down that most often derail your dieting efforts, take a closer look. Are these foods made up largely of sugar, fat, and/ or salt? If so, they are not only triggering you back into old habits but likely adding excess weight to your body.
Next, Stop Buying Them
The only way to break the hold trigger foods have on you is to stop consuming them. However, limiting trigger foods is a behavioral change, and behavioral changes require motivation, patience, and support.
For starters, write down the pros and cons of eating a particular food. While you may really enjoy chocolate cake or potato chips, the cons of eating it include not only gaining or failing to lose weight but, if it’s a trigger food, falling off your healthy-eating wagon completely. Once you have compiled a list of foods that trigger you and the consequences of eating them, keep this list nearby and even in your pocket at social gatherings. You have now built solid evidence against eating foods that keep you from your goals. Congrats!
Finally, trigger foods are more than just foods you crave. These foods also tempt you away from healthy lifestyle changes you may have made, creating a negative cycle of behaviors. Knowledge is power! By harnessing the power of self-observation, you can identify what foods set you back and work toward avoiding them in future, no matter what the circumstances.
In our next blog post on the topic, we will show you how to rid your kitchen of trigger foods so you can gain control of your eating . . . and your life!