I received a comment a while back that really made me stop and think. After blogging about some form of chocolate or peanut butter treat, someone said they never buy it because it’s one of their trigger foods.
For some reason, this comment resonated with me. The term “trigger food” is one I’ve used and see all the time. And yet, to have it used so commonly really stuck with me.
The idea of a trigger food is that it creates an uncontrollable urge to eat. The type of food is different for everyone. But I’m sure we can all relate to grabbing a small handful of chips. Then another. Then another. And without even thinking about it, half (or all!) the bag is gone.
Not a salt person? Ever have a chocolate bar disappear before having the intention to even eat it all?
A trigger food can mean different things to different people. For people with a history of binge eating, it can mean a lot. For people who are trying to lose weight, it can be the difference between a good day and a bad day.
I’m of the school of thought that there is no such thing as bad food. Just bad food choices. What I mean is that everything is okay in moderation. And yes, there is such as thing as too much of a good thing!
I hate to live in a world where cookies are absolutely off limits. Or crackers are something I’ll never allow myself to eat again. That is not a healthy way to live life, and it’s important to open ourselves up to indulgences every once in a while.
But the more I think about it, the more I realize that I do have trigger foods. Ones that I’ve more or less deemed completely off limits. Yes, even in my quest for balance there are some things I’ve taken an all-or-nothing attitude about. And in these cases, I really do believe it is for the sake of my mental sanity. For there are some foods, trigger foods, that I really do have no control over. Ones that will leave me feeling bad about and sorry for myself. Ones that I’m really better off just not having in my life. No matter how delicious.
First up, pretzels. In all forms.
Pretzels always sound good in theory. They’re fun to bake with. A nice addition to any trail mix. But I have absolutely no control over them. Soon after the bag is opened, I’ve devoured 1000 calories in a salty food devoid of any nutritional value.
I almost didn’t buy Trader Joe’s Peanut Butter Filled Pretzels because I knew they’d be a danger food. Sure enough, I munched on them until the bag was gone. Happy that I got to experience their deliciousness. But finishing a bag in three days is just not healthy or welcome for me. So long pretzels! (and good riddance)
Another one: small crackers.
I don’t buy them. I don’t know how to portion them. It irks me that most small crackers are 10 calories a piece. You see, I have a serious munching problem. When I’m in my kitchen, even if I’m not hungry, some food container is being opened to munch on. I’ve gotten smart about keeping carrot sticks around to do this with. Because it’s going to happen no matter what (I’ve tried many times to stop, all in vain). These days I’m all about the big crackers. Ones I can sit down and make an actual snack out of.
The absolute worst trigger food for me is cereal. Of all kinds. Granola, bran cereal, even puffed cereal. If it’s in my kitchen, I will eat it by the handful. Entire boxes have disappeared with nary a bowl or milk being involved.
I’ve tried numerous times, each time with fail, to kick my cereal habit. I’ve finally realized that it is just one of those foods that trigger an automated response from me. One I am not comfortable with. Thus, you will never find me in the cereal aisle. I know this sounds pretty depressing. It is sad to come to the realization that cereal is not good for your mental health.
I am however happy to report that I’ve overcome some trigger foods!
Me and trail mix used to have a rocky relationship. Now when I buy a big bag, I immediately portion it out into little baggies. For some reason my mind (and tastebuds) don’t like messing with those little baggies and it now goes untouched until intentional consumption. Same goes with other dried fruits and nuts.
The biggest success for me so far has come with chocolate.
I have memories of eating half a large chocolate Easter bunny in one sitting as a child. It’s one of those foods I just can’t get enough of. It’s taken some practice, but I can now have just a small square of chocolate, or a small amount of something like M&MS or Mini Eggs and feel completely satisfied.
This post is not supposed to be about deprivation. Believe me, I do allow myself “trigger foods” occasionally and thoughtfully enjoy them. But it’s about living day-to-day in a world where eating is often connected to a mental or emotional response. It’s about recognizing foods that make us feel bad, and deciding if they’re worth having around at all.
If anything, writing this post made me realize that my list of trigger foods is pretty small. Way smaller than it would have been when I set out to lose 30 lbs two and a half years ago. Maybe I will make amends with the remaining foods someday. But for now, I am completely content keeping them banned from my cupboards :)
Question of the Day: How do you feel about trigger foods? Too strict? Any that you don’t let in your house?
P.S. Deb is still accepting orders for our Charity Blogger Calendar! Click here to learn about it and get your own!!
Wow, I can’t believe how many of you have been affected by injury! Especially foot injuries. I forgot to mention in my last post about rest, that I typically take a day off exercise every three days. Sometimes it’s four, sometimes it’s two. It usually adds up to two rest days a week, one being an “active rest” with yoga. The other being a “sloth rest” :P
Today was neither kind of rest though because I finally went for a run! I took it easy – only doing 30 minutes at a medium pace. It was another brisk and sunny day out, but for whatever reason the cold air was hard on my lungs. Maybe it’s because I’m sick, but I was wheezing the whole time. I wish I could say I felt energized and refreshed after almost a week off, but to be honest, my legs were kinda dead. I really had to drag myself through it. But I felt a lot more energized and back to my usual self for the rest of the day :) I iced and stretched like a mofo when I came home and I’m happy to report that I’m 100% free of hip pain :D Yay! All that sitting on my butt paid off :P
Of course, it doesn’t hurt that I’ve been fuelling with amazing food – it’s Waffle Wednesday!
Another Wednesday, another stellar waffle combo. This is two Nature’s Path flax waffles topped with 1/2 cup cottage cheese blended with 2 tsp peanut butter + stevia and a drizzle of maple syrup.
I also have a bit of a confession to make. I’m back on the vitamuffins.
I will be making my own cheaper muffins again, but damn! A frozen deep chocolate smeared with PB is sooooo good. It’s one of my favourite treats and something I always look forward to!
I did a little more kitchen clearing for dinner tonight. This time using up a can of kidney beans that’s been taking up space in my cupboard for a while.
This was just a random throwing together of ingredients that I first sautéed, then baked.
- 1/2 kg lean ground chicken
- 1 can red kidney beans
- 1 onion
- 1 green pepper
- 1 tomato
- 2 very large mushrooms
- 1/4 cup salsa
- 1/2 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp paprika
I decided to eat it as a dip, so I baked some ezekiel tortilla wedges with a little olive oil, kosher salt and paprika.
With the last of my leftover dazzled carrots with pears and balsamic.
Aaaalllll together now…
Yum! I love “active” meals where I get to assemble as I go :)
I also tried out a new-to-me product tonight:
I think this is new to Canada too? Hopefully this is a sign of things to come! I’d love to try their frozen meals!
Anyways, the stats are okay. High in fibre (yay) and carbs (nay), low in sodium (yay) and protein (nay).
The ingredients are pretty darn good though.
Of course, none of that really matters because this stuff is absolutely delicious!!!
Something that’s cinnamon flavoured that actually tastes like cinnamon. I ate it with unsweetened vanilla Almond Breeze and a spoonful of vanilla whey powder. The protein powder acted as the “frosting” ;) I really like my shredded wheat soggy and mushy too. I kinda like soggy cereal in general.
Going with Flow – Food
I talked about going with the flow in terms of exercise yesterday, but today I wanted to talk a little about the other side of the equation – food.
I opened up about previously being rigid with my exercise schedule, so I guess it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I was also the same with my eating habits.
I’ve lost 30 lbs since the summer of 2008. I did it by calorie counting and was very successful with it. I figured out my calorie allowance, and stuck to it every day. The number on the scale went down every single week up until my transition into maintenance.
I remember my first vacation during that period. It was a trip up north for a family reunion. I obsessed for weeks beforehand, worrying about how I was going to eat while I was away. I stuck to the same safe foods at home, and the thought of not being in control of that terrified me.
I packed up a cooler full of food to bring with me, but of course, that only did so much. I ended up at a big family function without my backup food. I was a vegetarian then and the main course was meat. I was told by several people not to worry – there was potato salad for me to eat.
I was hungry and the thought of having to fill up on a plate of potatoes swimming in mayonnaise made me to freak out. I was going to go over my calorie number! I wouldn’t lose weight that week! My pants won’t fit!
Well, we are all still here, so I can tell you the world did not end that day :P
I like to think I’ve come a long way from then. I’ve learned that sometimes, when it comes to food, you’ve just gotta go with the flow. We can’t always be in control of what we eat, and it isn’t the end of the world if we have potato salad for a meal.
Looking back, I can see that a lot of what should have been enjoyable social situations for me were fraught with feelings of anxiety over the food being served. I would worry about how much beer I was drinking instead of laughing with friends. Or worrying if restaurants would have low-calorie choices, when I should have focused on who I was at the restaurant with.
I think my latest trip to Windsor was a real accomplishment for me. I snacked on things like crackers and chips, and ate what everyone else was eating. When given the option, I would always pick the healthiest thing possible. I listened to my hunger cues, and snacked when I knew I really needed it. Sure there was some over-consumption, but hell, that’s what vacations are for!
I also want to tack on here that it’s important to be up front with people about your eating habits. I never told anyone at that family function I was trying to lose weight, so they didn’t understand why I was so unhappy with the choices. Since then, my family and friends have learned about my new eating habits and have done a great job at respecting them. My mom always makes sure she has some healthy foods on hand whenever I go home :)
Questions of the day:
1. How do you deal with eating in social situations? Do you bring back-up food? Do you veto certain restaurants?
2. Cereal – crunchy or soggy?
Okay, it’s time for bed! I’ve got the next two days off and a wide open schedule! I’m sucking it up tomorrow and trying out a zumba class. I’ll be back with a full report :)
Hey guys! How are you all doing? I feel so cut off from the world, these past few days have just been a whirlwind. Did you know tomorrow is already Waffle Wednesday? Gah! How did that happen? Even more – it’s September! Figures, just when the weather starts to get cooler, I move into a basement apartment :P
I was up way before my mom and sister this morning. I quietly tried to throw together something to eat without waking them, which of course meant I dropped and banged into everything I touched.
PB&J toast made under the broiler because I may have broken my toaster. Applesauce on the side.
My family eventually came to, my mother started croaking for coffee, and my sister and I geared up for our 5k run. This was my first time running with someone else – it was so much fun! Made it go by much quicker, even if our conversation was a little short breathed :P We also pace the exact same, neither of us was faster or slower than the other.
Distance: 5.03 km
Avg pace: 8:45 min/mi
A perfect little burst of energy to wake up our creaky muscles from all the heavy lifting yesterday :)
Once we showered and dressed, we all headed to Cora’s for a late brunch. It’s a Quebec-based chain that specializes in breakfast/lunch.
She looks like a nice lady, no?
They have a huge menu chock full of delicious looking breakfast items.
I had eggs benedict on my mind, thanks to Janetha.
I ordered it with the asparagus and swiss cheese, but minus the Hollandaise sauce. I also got all fruit on the side, and skipped the potatoes.
I’m jealous of Cora’s perfectly poached eggs! Someday, I will do that.
My mom got sausage in buckwheat pancakes.
And Sara got a crepe omelette.
Yes, that’s a spinach and cheese omelette rolled up in a crepe. I tasted it, it was divine.
My only complaint about Cora’s is that their fruit isn’t always as flavourful as I’d like. I assume it’s because they have to buy it in bulk quantities seeing as they go through so much of it. The oranges and kiwis were bitter, strawberries a little worse for the wear, etc.
Me and my running buddy…
Brunch fuelled us up for a Wal-mart extravaganza. My mom and sister continued to spoil me and basically be the best people in the world, getting me a microwave stand, toaster oven, and countless other household items.
The rest of the afternoon was spent digging our way out of boxes and getting some semblance of what my place actually looks like! I stopped to munch on my mom’s famous homemade hummus.
I’ll ask her for a recipe, but I know she uses the same method as me – throw all appropriate hummus ingredients in food processor and blend. She never measures anything, thus every batch tastes slightly different. I think her real trick to making it taste amazing every time is that she cooks her own chickpeas. You can definitely taste the difference between the canned and dried varieties.
Dinner was also courtesy my mother. She and Sara left before supper today, but left some food in the fridge so I could make a meal :)
Check it out! I can eat at a table now! In my old place, most meals were eaten off my lap :\ New place also has wonderful lighting for food photos.
Haddock, that my mom had previously breaded, on a bed of romaine, tomatoes, sweet peppers and lemon juice.
A sneak peek of my new dining spot!
There’s still a lot to be done before it looks “home-y.” I’m still trying to get everything cleaned (the place was filthy) and unpacked before I start decorating.
Sure can’t beat this view though!
After dinner, I realized I have absolutely no food for work tomorrow, so I hit up the grocery store. This week’s fun find:
Barbara’s shredded spoonfuls. I started munching on these right away, caught myself, then realized I should just eat a bowl of the stuff instead of a whole serving from the palm of my hand.
With some blueberries and unsweetened vanilla almond milk. It was quite good! They got soggy pretty quick, but I still love the flavour.
So now it’s just me, all by myself, in an apartment that’s all my own. I’ve lived alone for short periods before, but only ever after roommates had moved out. This is the first place I’ve ever had that’s 100% mine! It’s a pretty sweet feeling :) And there will be more photos of the place as I get set-up. We’ll do a formal tour :)
I’m off to do some final cleaning before bed. Getting up early for a lifting workout at my new gym. Super excited to play around in the weight room there!
Question of the day: Got any song recommendations for me? I’m getting pretty sick of what’s on my iPod and I need some new stuff to listen to when I’m at the gym or running!
See ya tomorrow! ;)