You know — those foods you JUST. CAN’T. STOP. EATING.
You tell yourself you “can’t be trusted” around these foods. If you eat one you’re going to eat the entire bag. You don’t keep them in the house because you’re scared of binging on them… But then when you do somehow manage to get access to them, you end up going crazy.
For me these foods used to be: Ice cream. Chips (specifically – Pita chips). Indian snacks (‘mixture’). Anything sugary. Late night brownies.
I would binge + then feel extremely guilty the next day and try and ‘burn things off” in a flurry.
FIRST, you need to understand:
If you cannot be trusted around a food, the solution is NOT to avoid that food.
The solution is to learn how to trust your self around food.
Avoiding your problems doesn’t make them go away 🙂
Also – It’s not your fault that you are triggered by these foods. Many of these foods are designed by manufacturers to be “hyper-palatable.”
SO. HOW can you start to trust yourself around these foods again?
UNDERSTAND: TRIGGER FOODS VS. TRIGGER ENVIRONMENTS
First we need to understand: Is the food actually a trigger, or is it the environment?
Common environmental triggers to eat certain foods include:
- Certain places (ie – every time you go to your mom’s house to overeat on her cooking)
- Certain social events (ie – every time you go to a bar you overeat on nuts)
- Certain activities (ie – every time you go to the movies you overeat on popcorn)
In these cases, it’s not really the food that’s triggering you.. it’s the environment. You associate this environment or activity with over-eating this specific food.
You go into these situations kind of expecting to overeat… because it’s a habit at this point, and just what you’ve always done.
Identify the associations and become super self-aware in these situations.
If you know that the movies often makes you over-eat, be a little extra “alert” in this situation. Look at the dialogue in your head and have a plan ahead to set yourself up for success:
Ok – I’m going to the movies tonight. I know I’m often triggered to overeat on popcorn. I’m going to eat a hearty dinner so I don’t get hungry. When I’m there, I’m going to focus on enjoying a small popcorn and savoring every bite. I’m going to focus hard on how my body feels, and stop when I feel like I’m satiated. I’m going to bring some gum to chew on to cleanse my palate and switch the taste in my mouth when I’m done.
A little bit of extra self-awareness can go a LONG way.
Now let’s move to trigger foods themselves:
Let’s say ice cream is a trigger food for you. Every time you buy a tub, you end up eating the entire thing at 1am in your PJs when everyone is asleep.
You don’t trust yourself to buy ice cream anymore, because you’re afraid you’re going to eat the whole thing.
Right now, you associate a lot of negative emotions with this food. You associate guilt, shame, fear, and anxiety with this food.
We need to start associating more positive emotions with this!
STEP 1: INTRODUCE THE FOOD IN A SAFE ENVIRONMENT.
Instead of having ice cream at home, go out to eat ice cream with your friends.
Get a small scoop in your favorite flavor. Savor every bite. Focus on really enjoying the experience! Focus on laughing with your friends, and truly being present in the moment.
Realize that ice cream can be a positive experience, and that one scoop is usually more than enough to satisfy you and create positive emotions.
NOW, SLOWLY INTRODUCE THE FOOD BACK AT HOME
Once you feel comfortable eating ice cream outside the house, start bringing it back in the house. Buy a tub, and have a rule that you’re going to eat it sitting down only, and portion it out.
Portion some into a small bowl, and eat without any distractions. No TV, just focusing on the ice cream and enjoying the experience. Create a little ‘ritual’ around it and focus on feeling good.
TIP: Do this when you can focus and when you aren’t stressed, so you don’t feel like it’s stress eating.
GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION TO EAT:
Practice eating a small amount of ice cream regularly – perhaps daily after dinner. If you’re tracking macros, incorporate the ice cream into your daily macros.
This will remind your brain that ice cream isn’t something “scarce” or “off-limits” — It’s something that you have access to all the time. It’s abundant, not scarce. You don’t have to go crazy. You don’t have to “take advantage” of it, because you get it all the time.
Remember to maintain an abundance mindset with this!
LASTLY – MANAGE YOUR STRESS IN OTHER WAYS THAN FOOD!
When you stop associating food with stress – you will stop letting food hold so much power over you.
Mediation. Journaling. Drinking Tea. Going for a walk around the block.
With time and practice, you WILL be able to conquer your trigger foods, I promise you!
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