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!!
Happy Monday! Or, er, Tuesday. Thursday? Crap, doesn’t matter when you’re reading this, you get my point! It’s a holiday week, I’m allowed to be chipper :P
I loved reading everyone’s goals for this week. There’s a good mix of people who feel they need to be mindful of their food and exercise this week, and another group who recognize it’s time to loosen up on their iron grip! I’m in the in-between group. Bring on the gravy and Bailey’s coffee, but keep the sugar cookies away from me please :)
I tried to recreate my turtle pretzels for breakfast this morning…
- 1/2 cup rolled oats
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 cup soy milk
- 1/2 scoop vanilla whey protein powder
- 1/2 banana, cooked in
- mini chocolate chips
- peanut butter
- pretzel pieces
I thought this was going to be uh-mazing, but it was just good. The pretzels got kinda soggy :\ And I missed the creaminess of custard oats!
I unloaded some cake balls and peanut butter cup cookies on my Starbucks co-workers today. For people who are surrounded by cookies and cakes all day, they went pretty quick! Had what’s becoming my usual drink of a tall Americano with four shots espresso, 2 pumps sugar-free caramel, 1 pump sugar-free hazelnut and a splash of soymilk.
I was mega lazy this morning, and didn’t bother packing a lunch. Easy to do when I work seven steps from a Subway.
6 inch turkey breast on whole wheat, no cheese with mustard and all the veggies available. I was thinking that while Subway can be a good choice for eating out, I really shouldn’t make this a habit. Not only because it’s weirdo processed food – but this sandwich was five bucks! That shite adds up.
We were oddly over-staffed today and I got sent home early! Lost about 1.5 hours pay, but I also could have used the extra time in my day. I headed over to Sport Check to use the gift certificate my old co-workers gave me as a going away gift. Fiiinnaaally bought some long workout pants! Not only will they be great in the cold weather, but they’ll be added to my new “personal trainer wardrobe” I’m working on ;)
The second I pulled in my driveway, I saw a bright package sitting on my mailbox. I pretty much ran to get it and ripped it open. I’ve been anxiously expecting it!!!
Eeeeeee!!!!!! SO MANY GOODIES!!!! Sent my way from the lovely, hilarious, heavy liftin’, smoothie genius Deb. Thank you SO much Deb!!!! She remembered me saying I didn’t have hot water bottles on her blog a while back and sent two to me. Deb, these will pretty much keep me alive at my mom’s frigid house this week. Other goodies include Wonka Tinglerz, a Jordan’s bar (never tried, but love his muesli!) Primal Strips (can’t wait to try!!) Cocoa Roast Almonds, mini Chewy granola bar and a Japanese marshmallow candy. Even the marshmallow is fitting because y’all know I love me some fluff ;)
i.e.an excuse to eat almond butter ;) AB on half a banana, and then on two light wasa rye crackers with cinnamon and honey. But apparently my snack attack wasn’t over. I somehow ended up with one of these in my hand…
Gah! So good! I think these may be my favourite item I baked this weekend. Which is why I can’t wait till they’re out of my house :P
You see, I am slightly obsessed with the butternut squash + peanut butter combo. Holy moly, it was even good stirred into the soup! Try it!!
Getting off work early gave me extra time to get my chores done, which cleared up my schedule for yoga tonight!! I haven’t been to a Body Flow class at my gym in weeks. It was just what I needed. Yoga has an amazing ability to make me feel good about my body. More so than a sweaty session at the gym ever could.
For my evening snack, I blended together 3/4 cup cottage cheese, 2/3 cup frozen blueberries, stevia and cinnamon. It was a wonderfully thick and creamy snack.
That’s my yoga face. Not to be confused with my running face.
In honour of Deb, I felt it only made sense to answer a question she posed after I’d wrapped up Q&A week. But no question is a bad question, and hers is particularly good! So here’s your answer :)
I’m so behind on reading/commenting that I think you already answered your Qs. I do have one though if it hasn’t been asked: was there an a-ha moment that made you turn your life around from drinking/drugs etc to your healthy current self?
I’ve had a series of “a-ha” moments. My first one was when I was 16 years old. I’d been heavily into, ahem, “bad things.” One night, I watched a very good friend of mine get injured in a fight and I couldn’t do anything about it. That was my first notable “a-ha” moment. I never wanted to put myself in a position where I was that helpless again. After that, I stopped doing drugs altogether. I started doing better in school, hanging out with a solid group of friends, and my life almost resembled that of just your normal rebellious teenager.
Unfortunately, I still continued my bad relationship with food, smoking and alcohol. I moved in with my high school boyfriend when I was 18, and it was just a bad time for me. Kinda like these past few months since finishing university have been. Something in my gut was just telling me “you’re not supposed to be doing this right now.”
The high school boyfriend got ditched after I started university,and so did the smoking. Chris also entered the picture around this time, and my confidence took a nice little turn upward. Unfortunately, so did my drinking and eating habits. For the record, I cannot keep up with a 27-year-old boy in the beer or nacho department. However, I did not realize this until over two years later.
That a-ha moment came after several months of increased indulgence. Chris and I took a trip to Jamaica, and I continued the food and drink vacation once I got home. I knew my weight had skyrocketed. I had just gotten my first TV job and could see it onscreen every night. I was breaking down and buying sizes I’d never seen. But I’d resigned to the idea that I’d just always be a chubby person. I liked food and beer too much, so I just gave up in favour of that.
That is, until my roommate got a Wii Fit. We plugged it in one night after I’d downed two big Coronas (two litres!!). While setting up my Mii character, I saw my weight, and my jaw dropped. I knew I’d been gaining weight, but it didn’t fell real until I saw those numbers in front of me. That same night I put down the Corona. The next day I started looking up my calories online and writing them down in a little book. A couple weeks later, I found The Daily Plate and that’s when the weight really started falling off. I committed to doing 30 minutes of activity every day. Soon I was setting fitness goals and falling in love with it. And eventually I started taking pictures of my food and posting it on the internet! :P
Question of the Day: What was your food/fitness/healthy-living “a-ha” moment?