Reading time: 3-5 mins
Conquering Trigger Foods
“What’s a trigger food?”
Well, I’m sure there are numerous ways to define it. Personally, I would say that trigger foods are foods/drinks that cause you to eat, drink, or act in a way that you know is unhealthy or detrimental to you.
Pulling the ‘trigger’ on choosing to eat these foods might invite a binge, when you’re struggling to overcome a binge and restrict relationship with eating.
It might allow you to begin thinking poorly of yourself, and your self control. Feeling that it’s futile to try dieting and exercising yet again because you always succumb to a damn perfectly-placed oreo in the grocery store (they pay good money to be placed there, btw).
You could even be causing damage to your health, or physique by having a lust for foods you have an intolerance to, or foods that go sternly against everything you’re trying to accomplish.
Let’s not be puppeteered about by these foods.
1. Let’s not get into categorizing any foods as ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ Just like with words, there’s no real ‘good’ or ‘bad’ words. A more accurate way to classify foods (and words) would be ‘appropriate’ and ‘inappropriate.’ Sure, we can can spin a narrative on any type of food to justify for or against it, but the reality is we have allllllllll of the options, so it’s more about knowing how to eat in accordance to what we want; we all just happen to want to be healthy, strong, to look damn good, and enjoy life.
2. What are the foods that you know aren’t exactly ‘healthy’ (or that take you further from where you want to be, or from feeling your best) that you tend to reach for, and also overeat? What foods ‘derail’ your progress, or can insert themselves in your diet and maybe take up the space that ‘real,’ and ‘whole foods’ could have? What foods lend themselves towards gut distress? Bloating? To you blacking out and waking up to crumbs and wrappers scattered about? To you feeling ‘gross?’ I’m talkin’ chips, candy, chocolate, ice cream, alcohol, donuts, pizza, etc.
Identify your ‘trigger foods.’
You don’t have to get too wrapped up in the label, this should be an individual pursuit.
For example, trigger foods for me personally are:
- Donuts (keep ‘em from ‘round me omg)
- Ice Cream (if it’s in my vicinity, imma eat it)
- Burgers (if you’re not gonna finish yours, lmk)
- Beer (I prefer to not keep it in my house anymore lol)
Commonalities of Trigger Foods:
- Palatable – they’re usually fats and carbs, rarely ever a protein dominant food
- Taste – it’s as if your taste buds are at a full-service food spa on ecstasy
- Insatiable – you can’t really ever seem to get ‘full’ on these foods. Eating 6oz of steak can be filling, but a 6oz chocolate bar? C’mon.
- Gateway Food – many times these foods can be pairings. For example maybe you love chips, and soda. Or chips and sweets. One leads you to crave the other, which leads back to palatability. Think about eating competitions (you probably have never looked into them, but that’s what you have me for); they’ll eat hot-dogs until near-death, and then have some soft-serve to keep them in the game to cleanse the palate. Ice cream competitions give you french fries when you get burnt out, get it?
What’s the Best Way to No Longer Be Controlled By These Foods?
Create a Barrier.
Taking principles of food therapy, we can look at how to truly get the best of each side of the coin: freedom from these foods always whispering sweet-nothings to us, and getting to enjoy them when it’s appropriate.
Remove them from your home.
If you want to have some candy, take your ass to the store and get some candy. What you’ve done now is created a ‘barrier to indulgence.’
What’s the barrier if they’re 11 feet away from you in your pantry front & center?
If you want pizza, a burger, chocolate, a beer, donut-holes (🤤), a frosty, etc – create a barrier, but allow yourself to have it.
If we just say “no, I can’t have that.”
- We’re rebellious. That sh*t won’t last long
- We don’t want to live a life we don’t enjoy, we just have to prioritize health over indulgence if we ever truly want to be pleased by these foods (which means you don’t have feelings of self-loathing afterwards).
- It sounds as though the choice has been made for you, as opposed to you making it yourself. Instead say “I don’t want that right now.” You control you.
- All you think about when you say “no, I can’t have that” is “damn, I want that.”
Now you don’t have to express all the willpower this side of the Mississippi just to not walk to your pantry. If you want it, you have to physically drive to the store and go and buy them. By way of that, you’ll eat it less, and be less controlled by them.
“My issue is fast food on the way to and from work.”
Take a different route, leave your wallet in the trunk, make it a condition if you stop and buy fast food you have to pay the same amount you paid on food to your kids, a local charity, your spouse, or to a random friend. The money barrier works wonders.
“What about food delivery?! I can get what I want whenever!”
This leads me to a topic I’m awfully concerned about: Food delivery services such as Grubhub, Ubereats, Doordash, etc. These services remove those barriers to potential trigger and just plain indulgent foods. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a massive convenience at times, but these very advancements that are seemingly just a part of our societal growth, are a major contributor to our troubled relationships with food, exercise, health, and our bodies in general.
Don’t get me wrong, personal responsibility is the primary issue, but even me, as a damn health expert has to delete Grubhub off of my phone because of the impulse to order Five Guys for lunch every damn day.
Identify your triggers.
Create your barriers, but don’t say anything is off limits. Take note of how you feel when you do find it appropriate to eat those foods: do you feel bloated? Stomach issues? How hard do you crash? How’s your focus? Impact your training session? Impact you mentally?
Once you’ve created some barriers, it makes identifying how they actually make you feel much simpler.
From there you’ll begin to compartmentalize what makes you feel the most confident, healthy, happy, focused, energized, and that you’re truly advancing, from what impedes on those feelings and are there to be indulged in when the time is right.
Thanks for reading! Like always, if I can help with anything, reach out!