What is a trigger food?
According to Weight Watchers, a trigger food is a specific food that sets off a course of overeating where control is lost and excessive amounts are consumed.
The most common trigger foods are sugar/fat combinations (e.g. ice cream, cookies) and fat/salt combination (e.g. nuts, potato chips).
Food triggers are fairly uncommon and should not be confused with favorite foods (foods that are highly preferred), comfort foods (foods that are linked to a sense of home and contentment) or food cravings (desire for a food that has not been consumed in a long time).
With a true food trigger it is the food, not an emotion or situation, that triggers the out-of-control eating. For example, open the bag of potato chips and it will be gone, regardless of mood, time of day or place.
To help manage trigger foods, it is important to identify the food and avoid it altogether, at least for a certain period of time, and then reassess periodically.
A trigger feeling is an emotion, good or bad, that sets off a period of overeating. Unlike food triggers, which initiate overeating of a specific food, after an emotional trigger any available food will do. For more information on this topic, read the Science Center library article, Emotional Eating.
To manage trigger feelings, it is important to first identify the specific emotion that initiates the overeating and then develop positive strategies to cope with that emotion without using food.
A trigger environment is a specific situation or place that sets off a period of overeating. Common examples include walking into a movie theater, going to a buffet restaurant, attending a sporting event or visiting a relative.
To manage trigger environments, it is important to identify the specific location, people or events that set off the overeating. As with trigger foods, avoidance is an effective strategy for many people. For example, if the movie theater is a trigger, then going to a play or museum may be a better option. If visiting relatives in their home sets off an eating frenzy, ask to meet in a restaurant or elsewhere. When avoidance is not an option, it is important to develop tactics that minimize the likelihood of overeating.
Inevitably, eating triggers happen. When this occurs, it is important to recognize them for what they are and think about how you could avoid it from occurring in the future.
So, what do you think?
- Do you have a specific trigger food?
- Do you have any trigger enviroments?
- Do you think there is a difference between trigger foods and emotional eating?
I believe there is a difference between a trigger food causing you to over eat and emotional eating and/or binging.
Personally, the only time I ever “binge” ate was when I dieted. I was restricting too much calorie-wise and it would cause me to binge. Big time. It felt more physiological than psychological to me. Once I stopped dieting and fighting my body, I didn’t binge. Imagine that 😉
I do once in a while eat for emotional reasons, but I never binge. I may make a snack because I am bored and not hungry. So I do recognize that. And there are times I over eat simply because I enjoy food so much. But again, I recognize it and I am OK with doing that occasionally. I’m human!
My Trigger Foods
Now, I DO have trigger foods that I will just keep eating and eating and eating. It’s not emotional eating for me. It’s simply the food that makes me want to keep eating it.
Ice cream, trail mix, and chips and dip are a few of my trigger foods. I do not keep large quantities of them in my house because I will eat too much of it. However, I do not avoid these foods either and actually eat them quite often!
If I get a serious craving for any of these foods, I will just go out and buy it. But I will not buy a whole gallon of ice cream because I know I am likely to plow through it in just a couple of days! My favorite ice cream are Dairy Queen Blizzards and I usually get one every couple of weeks. But if there were ever an option to have a blizzard machine in my house, forget it! I’d turn into an oreo blizzard in no time! 🙂
My Trigger Food Environments
Some trigger food environments for me are buffets, family get togethers, or parties and weddings. I typically will make a mental plan for these occasions, such as how much I plan to eat and when I will stop.
There have been numerous times in the past where I have literally planted myself right next to the appetizer table and just kept eating and eating and eating. So a mental plan I might make would be as simple as not standing next to the food table all night! Instead, I would plan to get just a couple of plates of food and then be done with it.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions on trigger foods. Do you have any? If so, what strategies do you use to help you around those foods or situations?