How to conquer trigger foods

Everyone has a trigger food. A food you have no self control over. It’s that food you just can’t stop with once you start and end up seriously bingeing on it, and overeating to the point of feeling sick. I guess that’s where Pringles got ‘once you pop you can’t stop’ from. Don’t worry, you’re not crazy for doing it (even if you feel like that after you’ve binged.) And you’re not alone, we all do it.

Trigger foods can often have a cycle. My big trigger food used to be pizza. When I was in recovery for bulimia one of the counsellors I used to see asked me what my worst trigger food was and I said pizza. I guess when you have a trigger food you have a love/hate relationship with it. You love it so much you will gorge and binge on it. Then you’ll hate it (whilst probably hating yourself) and swear off it for a while. You’ll swear of it for so long you start to crave it so bad, then you’ll give in and have a big binge. See, it’s a big old mean cycle.

So how do we break that cycle? Because really, you love your trigger food so much and you want to be able to eat it in a normal human sized portion and feel fine about it, rather than a hippo sized portion and cry yourself to sleep after right?

Remember who’s in control

At no point in my pizza struggle phase was the pizza in control. That’s right, at no point did the little pizza ( lol joke extra large obviously) grow little pizza arms and hold me up at gun point and demand I eat all of him. I’m not saying it’s easy to stop yourself after one serving, god no it’s hard as hell. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. So when you feel and say you ‘lost control’, did you really? No you didn’t. The pizza didn’t grow legs, jump in your mouth and slide down your oesophagus. You always have the choice/option to not take another bite, it’s just learning how to manage and resist the urge.

So how do you manage your trigger food better?

1.Don’t keep it in the house

This is a bit of a weird one because we don’t want to restrict the food completely but this can help. Let’s say for example your trigger food is crisps. If you buy Multipacks for the kitchen cupboard and have a bad day at work you’ll probably get home and eat more than one bag. So rather than buying the multipack, stop at the shop on the way home for a single bag. It’s a good way to combat overindulging. You still get to enjoy your crisps but don’t have the temptation of eating more than one portion. It’s okay to not have a food in the house if it’s too hard for you to control.

2.Find a healthier alternative

Try swapping chocolate biscuits for chocolate rice cakes. Ben and Jerry’s for frozen yoghurt. Milk chocolate for 85% dark chocolate. By doing this, not only are you consuming less sugar, but chances are you aren’t going to overindulge on these foods because, well, the just don’t taste AS good.

3.Introduce it back in within a controlled environment

For me, introducing the food in smaller portions in a controlled environment worked well. The first time I tried this, a friend and I went to pizza express. It was out of the house so I guess you act in a more civilised way in public. She agreed to help me by sharing a pizza. So the portion size was smaller. We then went for a drink. Adding an activity after can help you to take your mind off wanting to overindulge. I felt really good after I’d done this. I’d proved to myself I could successfully eat one portion rather than ten. Every time you do this you’ll gain more confidence in yourself. You can stop at one slice/portion.

Your eating behaviours and expectations go hand in hand. If you expect to lose control it’s probably going to happen. If you tell yourself you’ll just have one portion before then occupy yourself straight after with another task, it will probably happen. It’s not easy and it will take time to conquer a trigger food. There’s not right and wrong way to do it but try the tips above and see if they help.

Good luck trying to conquer your trigger foods.

Sian x

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