Coping With Trigger Foods

If you don’t learn to cope with trigger foods, it won’t be long before you relapse and end up bingeing again. Find out all about trigger foods, what they are and how to cope with them. This is essential reading if you seriously want to stop binge eating.

What is a trigger food?

As the name suggests it is any food or food group that triggers you to binge eat. You may have an instant reaction or the binge may come within a few days. These are key trigger foods groups where at least one of these groups affects the majority of binge eaters:-

  • High Sugar – chocolate, cakes, biscuits, sweets, desserts
  • High Fat - crisps, fried food, chips
  • White Flour - pizza, bread, pasta

Types of triggers

  1. Smell- cakes cooking in the oven
  2. Sight - food left out on the kitchen surface
  3. Thought - hot day and thinking about ice-cream

Striking a matchPhoto by Laszlo-photo

How to find out your trigger foods

Unlike other addictions where it is very clear what triggers an alcoholic or drug addict, those of us addicted to food have to learn by trial and error what triggers us. The good news is that you will really begin to understand your own body and how it reacts to food. Everyone is unique and what triggers one person will not trigger someone else. The other thing to know is that your trigger foods can change over time so vigilance and honesty is the key to a successful recovery from binge eating.

You can discover your trigger foods by:-

  • Asking yourself which foods would you always binge on if it was available
  • Keeping a food diary and monitoring what you eat before and during a binge
  • Analyzing your food diary
  • Is there a food group that triggers you:- high sugar, high fat, white flour or processed foods?
  • What foods do you want to eat more and more of?
  • Do you drink high amounts of caffeinated drinks like coffee, coke / diet coke? These can trigger binges too.

Make life easier for yourself

Remove all trigger foods from your house, it’s that simple. If you don’t buy the foods, then you have less chance of being tempted by sight or smell when you are in the house. If you have already got of list of excuses as to why you can’t do this, then think again. Do you really want to recover?

Photo by Dawn-Pink Chick

Look how many excuses this lady found!

Common excuses

  • The children have to have sweets/ crisps in the house - Don’t you want your children to have a healthy lifestyle too? It doesn’t mean they can’t ever have them but they are bought at the time of wanting them rather than being kept in the house as a temptation for you. There is no reason why they can’t eat them away from the house until you are safe to have trigger foods around.
  • I must keep food in for visitors who drop in – How many times does someone drop in and expect to be given food. Offer them a coffee and if they really want food they will learn to tell you when they are coming. If you really can’t bear to not offer anything then why not bake something healthy and keep it in your freezer ready to heat up in the microwave.
  • My partner must have a supply of these foods – Let your partner buy their own supply and keep it hidden from you at work or wherever they choose to hide it. Explain why you don’t want your trigger foods kept in the house where they will tempt you.

Spend time working out what your trigger foods are and then come up with a plan of how to deal with them. Remember that trigger foods can change over time, so remain vigilant and honest in order to tackle your binge eating effectively.

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3 Responses to Coping With Trigger Foods

  1. justice says:

    i cannot stop buying bread and pasta, i have 2 small children and i cook with pasta, and make sandwiches with bread, i have however eliminated all other junk, chips, cookies, ice cream, garbage we dont need in the house. i still cant figure out what my triggers are because i think i could binge on anything!!!!! mostly high carb foods high in flour content, like loaded nachos, burritos, pasta alfredo, pita sandwhiches, i am ok with whole grain bread called “flat out” when i eat it, its satisfying and i dont care to binge on it. even though sweets are a huge trigger, cookies dont bother me much, its pies, brownies, cakes, pastries, donuts etc. i need help figuring all this out

    • Alison Jenkins says:

      There are lots of people who can’t have refined flour ie white flour but can tolerate wholemeal flour. Some people can’t tolerate any wheat product. Well done for getting rid of all the junk food in the house – that is a brilliant start. From what you say it is white flour, sugar and high fat that are your triggers. At the moment it feels like you will binge on anything. I remember that feeling well until I realised I had a cupboard full of food like tin tomatoes, kidney beans etc and things in the fridge like lettuce that I wouldn’t dream of bingeing on, so I could clearly see that there was a line where I didn’t go below. There are people who will literally binge on all and every food but it is finding out your own individual patterns. It can also be behaviours that trigger you too, like eating when standing up, watching TV adverts, smelling cakes in the bakers. If you would like some individual help to look at this, please feel free to sign up for a session.

      All the best
      Alison

  2. Grace says:

    I am so happy to have found this post. I have recently acknowledged the connection between wheat producs and binging and have decided to cut it up. But, as always i was questioning if i was right or taking a rash (and potentially harmful) decision…. I also learned that the combination of wheat and sugar is the worst kind of trigger to me.
    I´m just happy to have find out that it wasn´t all in my head…and that my decision was right.

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