Thursday, December 4, 2014

What Are Your Trigger Foods

I can taste it now! It's chewy with a slightly crisp outside. The sweetness dances across my tongue as I let it linger there for just a moment or  two. I savor each and every bite. The feel of the thick sugar crystals in my mouth. The glass of cool milk flowing over my tongue, wiping my pallet clean to be able to savor round two completely from scratch. For me it is pure ecstasy.

Did I make you hungry? Do you know what food I am talking about?

I am talking about my number one trigger food of all time: Sugar Cookies. I could eat them on a train, I could eat them in the rain. I could eat them here or there...I think you get my point. I love them to death. Actually, they almost did kill me because I got fat eating them. Trigger foods are the foods that will ruin your diet because, as soon as they touch your tongue, you are transported back to a time that they made you feel comfortable and you begin to eat your way through that feeling. By doing this you will ruin all the hard work you have put in so far. Hence the name, they trigger you into a relapse on good habits.

We all have trigger foods. They are the foods that when we have a bad day , are feeling a little lonely, or maybe just cause, that we go to for comfort. It gets to the point with these foods that we dream about them. We fantasize about them. We even talk about them the way we would a lover. If you always find yourself sneaking food or even lying about how much you have eating, that is a definite sign you have found a trigger food for you. It seems a little weird when you think about it, but these trigger foods are taking away your hard earned weight loss results and depriving you of the amazing body you deserve.

Why do we crave these foods?

Some would argue that it is chemical. That the serotonin spike in our brains cause by certain foods that are different for everyone cause us to fall hopelessly addicted to the. It is the need to get that fix again just like a junkie trying to shoot up. When you are feeling lonely, or depressed, unloved, and miserable the chemical boost to your system alleviates the emotional pain you feel inside. It's like a pacifier for adults. Have you ever caught yourself tired, crying, or stressed and you reach for the cookies, ice cream, chips, or even beer? The famous ad campaign for Lay's potato chips goes, "Bet you can't eat just one." I can't think of a better way to describe it.
Some people would also say environment has an effect on your need to overeat. I agree that the way you learned to deal with stress and loss in your family may well have shaped how you use food, but I also argue that it had more of an effect on what trigger foods you have. I bet if you thought about what are your go to foods, they were ones you had on a regular basis when you were younger or for specific events and holidays. In my house growing up, every Friday night was pizza night and every Sunday night was snack night. Still to this day, at both of those times I have a much stronger desire to eat these foods compared to any other day of the week.
However these foods became your triggers, the big thing to keep in mind is that you need to avoid them or learn to be triggered by healthier versions of these foods. The easiest way to start off is to cut yourself off entirely. You need to allow yourself to go through withdrawal. It is definitely not easy, but it will be one of the best things for you. Take the time to go cold turkey and every time you feel like giving in, do something physically active. Go for a run. Walk around the block. Punch a donkey in the spleen. Just get your mind off of it. Over time you will find you don't think about it as much.
When I finally decided to have weight loss surgery, I cut myself off from sugar cookies completely during that time. The only exception was when I ate them as a part of my bucket list. I did purposely save them for last so I wouldn't have as much of a choice in giving in to temptation if I was just days away from surgery. If you are not trying to prepare for a surgery and are just trying to eat healthier or lose weight, then once you have gotten past where the cravings are so intense, you can begin experimenting with finding a healthier alternative.  For example, I have found that I enjoy creating a sugar free sugar cookie using a sugar free cake mix and I eat one or two cookies instead of twelve.
The biggest thing I can tell you is that discovering these foods that are your go to foods, the ones you overeat to the point of almost being sick every time. These are the foods that will ruin your diet and take away from all the hard work you have put in. I can promise you, if you figure out what these foods are for you and you enact a plan to handle the cravings, then you will be successful.
My challenge for you today is to come clean about what your trigger foods are and then to suggest a plan on how you intend to handle them. Putting it out there for everyone is just another way of admitting you have a problem and as most 12 step programs will tell you, it is the begging of healing.