Know Your Triggers

You know those peanut butter filled pretzels Publix carries? You know the ones placed strategically in the produce section. Those are one of my triggers. It’s really quite brilliant of Publix to put them in the produce section, grocery stores do this kind of sneaky marketing all the time. Right after I am feeling all good about filling my cart with fruits and veggies, there they are calling my name. I sometimes trick myself into buying them “for my kids”, but really they are my weakness and when I buy them the kids actually rarely get any before I have polished them off.   

Triggers are foods that are usually not the best, healthiest choice that we tend to overeat if given the opportunity. Usually it is sweets or candy (think leftover Halloween goodies), or crunchy, salty foods like chips.   

What are your triggers? Do you know? Are there certain foods that you sort of lose control over when they are around? Triggers can easily sabotage efforts at healthy eating habits. They can show up at the grocery store, in your pantry or fridge, or at work, among other places.

I rarely tell people they “can’t” or “shouldn’t” eat something, but if something is a trigger for you it is probably best left on the grocery store shelf. Eating healthy and making healthy choices means keeping those healthier choices around and choosing them most often. I know that if those pretzels are in the house I will often choose them over something more nutritious and balanced. So, I don’t buy them. No excuses, they just can’t end up in my cart…anymore. 

Think about foods you might keep at your house or things you might buy “for the kids” or “for your husband”. Be realistic and honest with yourself. Is it really for them or really for you? Eating healthy, especially when you are forming new habits, is challenging enough with setting yourself up for failure by having trigger foods around to tempt you.  

If there are things you can’t get around buying or having in the house and you know are likely going to be triggers for overeating, one strategy is to pre-portion single servings into snack baggies or reusable Tupperware like containers. This step at least gives an environmental pause to eating more than one serving and will create a more mindful situation. If that is just far too tempting then maybe you have whoever you are buying the particular food for portion it out. If it is for kids in your household then this would be a good opportunity to teach them about portions too.  

The key to managing triggers is not to wait until those “munchy”, “grazy” times arise to try to find a solution. Coming up with a plan ahead of time on how you will work around certain tempting foods is key. Try my tip for prepackaging them into individual portions and see if that works. If you absolutely can’t resist something just don’t have it in the house. It doesn’t mean they are off limits forever, it just means you don’t have easy access to them at all times.  

Making your home and environment one that works with your efforts, not against them, is your best bet for long term success at weight management and better health.