Do you get cravings you can't ignore? Just recently I made the mistake of looking at desserts on Pinterest - late at night. Oh boy, that was a mistake. I just couldn't wait to make the blondies I discovered. Good thing they were made with chickpeas and oats, but sugar, too. ? I had to make them, but I could have used these 6 tips for dealign with food triggers.
Those blondies on Pinterest were a trigger, sometimes called a cue, and triggers happen to us all the time. Seeing a commercial for food, driving along and seeing a fast food restaurant. The time of day can be a trigger. Sometimes we're unaware of the trigger, and the habit that follows, but if you become mindful of them, you'll have a lot more success sticking with your plan to eat healthy. Unfortunately, once that trigger has gotten into your brain, the craving starts and we have trouble ignoring it.
We're lucky we have triggers because they urge us to explore, learn new things, find a mate and help keep us alive. 45% of your daily activities are habits that are triggered by cues. And the habits we form help us get through the day without having to make too many decisions or think a lot. They can also lead us down a path that we don't want.
Once a food trigger happens, you anticipate the reward.
This drive was super important in the environment where we had little food. Although it’s still important, in today's world, with Starbucks on every corner and such easy access to food, we're in trouble! How in the heck do we turn off those urges?
What's one of the secrets to staying on target and ignoring triggers and cues?
Well, you really can't turn habits off once they're cemented in your brain with a trigger, according to Charless Duhigg who wrote, "The Power of Habit." You can become more aware of them - that's being MINDFUL of what those triggers are for you.
Here's what I've personally found helpful when those urges strike and it's been shown to be helpful by the science.
Interrupt your normal cycle of TRIGGER > ROUTINE > REWARD. The trigger will be the same, the reward is the same, perhaps have a satisfying bit to eat, but what you do in the middle is where you can make the change. Your routine - the behavior. In the case of eating something you really shouldn't, find a substitute that you find rewarding, too. In the case of the blondies, having a predetermined "sweet" snack would probably have done the trick.
Here are 6 Tips for Dealing with Food Triggers
- Don’t go for more than 5 hours without food. That way your blood sugar won't get the best of you. Set the timer on your phone so you won’t let this happen.
- Eat filling meals that are high in nutrient density. Follow Dr. Fuhrman's advice, eat a salad every day and eat foods high in fiber - you guessed it, fruits and veggies!
- Plan snacks and have them on hand. A quickie that I sometimes like is a couple of dates with a few walnuts. Having ice cream made with banana in the freezer is a good one, or even healthy cookies, or yummy hummus with carrots or apples.
- Take a lunch with you or find “healthy” fast food where you can eat "on plan" items. Some places offer salad bars which is one of my favorites.
- Choose a “do not cross” line of items you will not eat such as candy or French fries (well, maybe your homemade baked version is OK). Remember the times you struggled thinking, “I really want this, but I know I shouldn’t.” This creates less mental struggle and your devil is sure to win if you’re low on willpower.
- Be mindful. Learn what your triggers are so you can plan for them. If you have to, drive a different way avoid your triggers, hide Facebook posts with tempting food or change the TV channel. The extra time you spend will be well worth it.
I'd love to hear what you do when a snack attack hits and hope some of these tips help you resist temptation when triggers come your way.