Why do you eat? The obvious reason is that you are hungry. However, the desire to eat may have many triggers. Some are more obvious than others. By keeping a food journal, you can pinpoint your food triggers and find ways to get fit at home as you identify your eating triggers.
What is a Trigger?
A trigger is something that gives you a clear stimulus or desire for a particular food.
Many turn to food for comfort, stress relief, or reward. Emotional eating is using food to make yourself feel better. It fills an emotional need, rather than just an empty stomach. Emotional eating does not fix that emotional need, it usually makes you feel better at the time, until you realize the same issue remains, and you feel guilty for overeating!
The Difference Between Emotional and Physical Hunger
- Emotional hunger comes on instantly. Physical hunger comes on gradually.
- Emotional hunger often craves sweet or junk food. Physical hunger is satisfied with good, healthy food.
- Emotional hunger leads to mindless eating. Physical hunger is satisfied when you are full.
- Emotional hunger stems from your emotions. Physical hunger has a growling stomach.
- Emotional hunger wants instant gratification. Physical hunger can wait.
Triggers of Emotional Hunger
Food seems to be everywhere.
Advertisements abound. They are on signs as you walk or drive down the street. Just the sight of food or the tantalizing aromas of bakeries and fast food restaurants are as plentiful as the restaurants and bakeries themselves. Food is big business, it is made to be convenient, to entice you to buy, even if you are not hungry.
Living in a fast-paced environment puts pressure on you to get so much done in 24 hours of the day. School, work, after school and work activities requires you to constantly be on the go. It is so easy to stop for something to eat, rather than a home-cooked meal of by-gone years.
You want to get the most for your money. The business world is aware of that as they create Super-Size and Buy one Get one Free enticement. Even if you really don’t need it, it is hard to let a bargain slip by your fingertips. Even the dinner plates you eat from are made larger to hold more food! Just look at a food buffet. The more choices there are, the easier it is to put more food on your plates!
You Soothe Your Emotions with Food
Perhaps you are criticized, or dealing with money problems, or doing a task you don’t like to do, do you head toward the refrigerator? Overeating can produce a “food coma”, a drowsy calm which can be quite soothing.
You Conquer Boredom with Food
Sitting at the computer, working on a deadline, or while you are driving, do you like to have food at your fingertips?
You Celebrate with Food
Food is at the root of every culture. Marriages, births, holidays, all are celebrated with food. Go out with a friend, on a vacation, a football game, and parties of all kinds. Food is always on the agenda.
And we can’t forget learned behaviors! How many parents have said, if you are good, I will buy you a treat? Bribing children with food for good behaviors has been part of many parents’ framework for a long time.
If a child is upset, they are given food to make them feel better. If they misbehave, they are told, no dessert for you!
Food Becomes a Habit?
When you arrive home from work, as you enter the door, you may head directly to the refrigerator, or snack cupboard.
Just the Sight or Smell of Food Can be Tantalizing!
Seeing or smelling tantalizing aromas of food can get your digestive juices working. Look at this book. The Inflammation Spectrum: Find Your Food Triggers and Reset Your System by Will Cole and Eve Adamson.
Make Good Food Choices
Keep a Food Diary
Take a moment to decide why you are hungry. Is it an emotional hunger or is a real growl in your stomach kind of hunger? Track your food intake. As you see a pattern emerge, you can find healthier ways to deal with your feelings. To avoid overeating, keep something in your hands like reading a book. Keep busy.
To make good food choices, choose to eat something that is a healthy substitute with a similar texture. If you do decide to go with your craving, savor each bite as you eat it mindfully.
Set Boundaries to Your Cravings:
- Don’t keep junk food at home or at your desk
- Avoid vending machines
- Plan a healthy, structured meal plan
- Make a grocery list and stick to it
- Distract yourself for 10 minutes to see if the craving will pass
- Try a healthier version of your craving
- Practice moderation
- Exercise to decrease physical hunger
- Drink plenty of water
- Distance yourself from food and beverage tables at social functions
Furthermore, the logical part of your brain may give you a good reason to change your trigger points.
You know you have time on your hands, a long weekend or recent retirement. Plan something to keep yourself busy. Time on your hands with nothing to do is a good recipe for raiding the refrigerator.
Does food interfere with your sleep? Perhaps one food will cause a craving for other foods. Salty foods may raise your blood pressure. The extra pounds that you accumulate will more than likely affect your health in one way or another. Dealing with diabetes will surely affect your blood sugar.
Write down the logical part of your thinking to help you identify and deal with your food cravings.
Create Your Own Rules
You could make the rule to eat ice cream only on Sunday. That makes decision-making easy. An open-ended ten percent of the time for cheats, allows decision-making which can wear down your will power. Ice cream only on Sundays makes most of the decisions for you.
On Tuesday, you will realize that weight loss is not the only reason for the Sunday rule. Blood sugar, blood pressure, and a good night’s sleep are also rational logic to your decision-making. By having logic to back up your rules to curb cravings, you will be amazed at how much control you will have over your cravings.
Don’t Over-Restrict Yourself
Over-restricting yourself, almost always leads to a bad rebound period of binge-eating. By overeating the wrong things, you will feel guilty as you gain even more weight. Binge-eating is when you consume an unusually large amount of food very quickly to the point of discomfort. Binge eaters often eat alone, so as not to be embarrassed about the amount of food they have eaten.
If you do give in to a craving, eat it mindfully or find a similar healthy alternative that would satisfy you. Enjoy it and get lots of flavor out of it. Savor each bite.
What is Your Relationship with Food?
Are you bored, stressed, or looking for some type of relief? Many people turn to food to solve all of these problems. This sets them down a path of unhealthy behaviors. Snacking in the middle of the night, and improper portion sizes all lead to a poor relationship with food. Conversely, the Mayo Clinic give 5 Key Habits of Healthy Eaters.
There are Many Reasons for Overeating
For example, stress, exhaustion, loneliness, and other strong emotions are more likely to cause a binge. At times like this it is probably a good time to exercise or talk with a friend. Meditating is also helpful for some people.
Ways to Get Fit at Home
What foods give you more energy? Try a banana, an apple, or a glass of water. Fatty fish like salmon, tuna, or mackerel are good sources of protein, fatty acids, and B vitamins. Sweet potatoes or a hard-boiled egg are also great foods to enjoy.
Add Healthy Foods to Your Diet
Don’t take unhealthy foods away from your life, add some great, healthy ones instead. Fruit, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat milk, yogurt, and lean protein are a great addition to any diet!
For example, the Mediterranean diet is one of the best and most proven healthy methods to eat. Nearly all foods, including vegetables, whole grains, fish, nuts, and olive oil are included for you to enjoy. Additionally, research suggests that this diet protects cognitive abilities and reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and increases your overall level of health.
There are many types of food triggers other than the growling in your stomach. For instance, the environment, circumstances, emotions, boredom, and celebrating are only a few. Learned behaviors from childhood and habit, as well as the tantalizing sights and aroma of food can also be a food trigger. Learning how to recognize your eating triggers, gives you the upper hand in learning to control them.
Please Leave a Comment
I would love to hear from you. Do you have food triggers? How do you deal with food them? How do you control overeating? I would love to hear your experiences.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional. No content on this site should be substituted for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare practitioner. The information contained here is for informational purposes only. It is from my research and personal experience.