Everyone has different food triggers. For some it is as simple as the thought of a doughnut that drives them to over eat while others never think to eat. Some triggers may be associated with friends, family, certain places, moods, times of day and other environmental conditions.
The following are a set of suggestions to help you tame your triggers and manage weight issues.
Overcoming People Triggers
Often times the holidays present us with the presence of people that trigger our weaknesses. Knowing who these people are can help you when you know they are going to be with you during the season of treats and habitual weakness. Try asking these people specifically if they will help you stay on track before the time comes.
If you have household members who overeat:
- If you live with another over-eater, negotiate with them about where and when you plan to eat. Don’t make demands, instead come to a mutually acceptable agreement so the other overeater can still eat, just not near you or when you are together unless you have a meal plan.
- Have the other overeater store sugary foods where you will not be able to find them.
- Plan a Mardi Gras splurge day where you go to a nice restaurant and have what you desire, but don’t over eat.
- Discuss the idea of managing your meal plans together. You may find that you are an inspiration to the others who want to quit.
If you have coworkers who overeat:
- Explain to your coworkers why it is important for you to quit.
- If you usually take your break with your over eating buddies, take your break with individuals that have better food habits and understand a managed menu.
- Take your break at different times, and if possible change the place where you are used to overeating. There is such a thing as place association.
- Do a cross word puzzle or read a novel during your break if you have problems sitting without eating.
- Run an errand or take a walk on your break instead of staying near the kitchen
If you see others who overeat:
- For the first few weeks, avoid socializing in places where you know other people will be eating.
- If you have to be around others who overeat and you are tempted to do so, get up and take a break in the middle of your meal so that you can remind yourself to slow down.
- Eating is not rush hour. Slow down your chewing rhythm. It takes 20 minutes for your brain to receive the message from the stomach that it is full.
- Realize that overeaters are not having more fun just because they are eating. They usually wish they had not eaten so much as soon as they push themselves away from the table.
- If you look at another overeater and feel deprived, remember you are choosing better health. Obesity is toxic and health destroying. Additionally, the expenses of an unhealthy lifestyle will cost a fortune all told. You can be proud that you have taken control of your health, your quality of life and your future finances.
- Don’t hesitate to ask individuals who offer you sweets and junk not to tempt you. Most overeaters understand what you are going through and will be happy to help you be successful. It may eventually be the key to their success as well.
- Explore alternative ways to socialize with friends
If you choose to socialize around food:
- Change to a low calorie menu plan
- Limit your portions
- Always take half of your order home, an economic decision both in terms of calories and finances
- Minimize alcohol
- Take a support person with you that understands your difficulties and explicitly grant them the necessary allowances to keep your accountability
- Leave the table occasionally to remind yourself of your plan (take a copy of it in your pocket with you)
- Remind yourself that you can have fun without eating and you are not in a state of starvation.
Overcoming Place Triggers
- Keep a small squeeze ball near your desk. If the urge to snack comes over you pick up the ball and squeeze your frustrations into it.
- If an urge to snack arises ask yourself these questions – do I need this snack right now? If the answer is yes, qualify why you need it in that specific instant. Chances are you will notice that the urge has passed by the time you ask all the questions. They are designed to be appetite killer questions.
- Keep a list of your reasons for getting your nutrition under control. Look at it often, especially when cravings hit.
- Put a motivational saying, poster, snapshot of someone inspirational near you to remind you of your goals.
- Give yourself an incentive.
- Have an accountability partner at work who can help you be honest with yourself and your eating plan.
In the Car
- Choose routes that don’t go by donut shops or gas stations that tempt you.
- Listen to a book on tape that has an inspirational theme.
- Keep a bottle of water in the car to drink if you start to think about hunger pains.
- Keep a pair of tennis shoes in the car and take frequent detours to the park for power walks.
- Find projects to do when cravings come up and your attention shifts to the refrigerator.
- Don’t allow yourself to snack while watching TV. Instead do crosswords or other puzzles.
- Get rid of sugary, junk and other tempting foods.
- Don’t buy junk food. If you are going to have a cheat, buy one item not a pack of them.
- Plan fun into your downtime (get out into the yard, do home yoga).
- Create an exercise meditation room where you can isolate yourself to sit and breath through a craving attack.
- If you can, choose restaurants that offer low calorie and healthful options.
- Ask the waiter to leave off the creams and sauces.
- If smells tempt you during your meal, visit the bathroom for a mini break.
Overcoming Time-of-Day Triggers
- Alter the order of your morning routine. You may need to exercise first.
- Get into the shower or perform another activity so you wake up fully before you eat so that you are cognizant when making meal decisions.
- Always eat some breakfast. Skipping it will inspire overeating later in the day. Blood sugar has also plummeted after your night fast and needs to be replenished.
- Minimize the sweeteners and milk added to the coffee. Coffee alone has no calories whereas a chai latte’ can have in excess of 400 calories depending on the vendor and who makes it.
- Sip your coffee slowly.
- Read a book or make a shopping list to stave off thoughts of snacking.
- Take a short walk or do a short stretch with a deep breathing exercise.
- Get up from the table as soon as you finish eating.
- Brush your teeth immediately after a meal.
- Take a walk after meals (it is always appropriate to get your tennis shoes on and walk).
- If you want to continue to eat when you know you should stop ask yourself the killer three questions: Do I need to eat more right now? If the answer is yes, ask do I really need it in that instant? If so ask why? Chances are you will notice that the urge has passed by the time you ask all the questions. They are designed to be appetite killer questions.
- Take a distraction to the meal table with you such as a cross word puzzle. You can continue to relax at the table and not feel the pressure to eat.
Overcoming Mood Triggers
- Realize that overeating doesn’t make good times better. Overeating can certainly make moods worse as you suffer physical discomfort and feel sabotaged in dietary endeavors.
- Ask yourself “what could food do to make me happier?”
- If you are at a party, take a support person with you to help you keep your accountability.
- Keep a worry stone in your pocket and twirl it with your fingers if the eating urge comes up while you are trying to be social (this activity can help divert anxiety as well).
- Understand that eating does not relieve stress in the long term. In fact, the chemicals in many of the foods we eat make us sick. Fat clogs up your artery system and your liver. Sugars tax your pancreas, plaque your nerves and depress your brain.
- Step back and remember to breathe. Always maintain awareness that you can handle the situation.
- Strategize about how to handle stressful situations with friends or relatives before encountering these situations.
- Realize that every problem has a solution that does not involve eating.
- Begin an exercise program, take a formal stress management class, take up yoga or learn to meditate.
- DO NOT DIET. This whole approach is about a live-it plan. Make behavioral changes that last a life time. Learn about nutrition and how it heals your body. Don’t couch the program in temporary terms when holistic and continuing well-being is the end goal.
- Choose to stick to the plan for life. The live-it plan lasts a life time. With it, the notion of dieting is simply obsolete.
- Change up your exercise routine often. This keeps your metabolism guessing and your BMR high.
- Use healthy snack foods –celery, broccoli, tomatoes etc,.
- Increase your water intake. Take in at least half your body weight in ounces.
- Change your attitude to an “I CAN” mindset. Your brain drives the ship. Manifest the right attitude every morning and the rest of the day will follow.
If you slip, forgive.
Breaking old habits and establishing new ones does not happen overnight. It is critical that you keep a positive attitude, and continue your efforts even if you make a mistake. Every day you work the program, you are a success. There is no need to feel like a failure. In fact, by learning new habits and a new lifestyle you are keeping your brain healthy by taking on new information, challenges and new tasks.
If you slip forgive, look back and discover what went wrong. Discovering and addressing the cause of your slip-up will increase your chance of ongoing success. Continue to resume the program and make it your goal to act within it.