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Getting to Know Your Food Triggers

Understanding why you eat what you eat 

Did you ever stop to think about WHY you are eating?  Most of the time, it has nothing to do with being hungry! So what triggers you to grab that salty or sweet snack, wine or beer, or just eat way more than you should?  Let’s take a look at some of the most common things that might prompt you to eat (and we’re not talking salad here😊).  Do you always seem to be snacking during certain Activities like watching TV, working at your desk, driving, or cooking?  What can help is if you keep track of everything you eat and drink!  Tracking your intake can be an eye-opener for all of us, and will make it easier to stop the mindless nibbling.

And how about those Favorite Foods?  We’ve all got them, chips, cookies?  Just the smell of chocolate gets me salivating! Sometimes, it’s just best not to have it around!  Don’t keep foods you can’t resist around the house or in your desk.  Be strategic, and buy single portions, split a dessert with others when your eating out, and try not to try to eat a small portion of your fav when you are super hungry! 

Time of Day 

What Time of day are you most likely to overeat or snack?  Is it an afternoon sweet craving? After work hunger? Late night snacking?  Identify your vulnerable times and plan ahead!  If you are hungry, then have apples, cut up veggies and hummus or a Hunger-Bomb Cookies on hand, to help fill you up, without blowing your calories for the day.  If it’s just a habit you’ve gotten into, then substitute it with something better, like a walk, a cup of herbal tea, your favorite book, or a relaxing bath.

Sometimes our Social Habits can be the issue. Do you have certain people that you always seem to eat more when you are around them?  Do you work with the “happy hour gang”, or have a partner who is a non-stop snacker (I’m not pointing fingers here)?  No, you don’t have to give up your social life, but be tuned to what is going on.  You can positively influence what others eat too, you know!  Order a healthy appetizer, suggest going to a new place with healthier options, or doing something fun, like maybe bowling or a hike!  

Physical Factors

Believe it or not, Physical Factors can trigger food cravings and unhealthy eating too. Skipping meals or not getting enough sleep can wreak havoc on your appetite.  Ever notice when you are tired, how you tend to go for the carbs?  Or if you skip a meal, you get hangry and then anything goes!!! Stick to your meal plan!  By eating your 3 meals and snacks, you can really keep a handle on your appetite and weight.  Shut down the phone early, and plan for a good night’s sleep.  You’ll be thankful tomorrow.  And let’s save the best for last, all that Emotional eating!  Do you eat when you’re bored, stressed, anxious?  Do you have foods / drinks that you think soothe or relax you?  Be aware of your moods (yes, you can track these too), and stop to think about if you are hungry or just eating out of ……… (you can fill in the blank).   

When emotions are running high, look at other coping strategies to keep you from overeating.  Go for a walk, call a friend, or put on your favorite uplifting music and just dance!!  Getting to know yourself can be fun.  Who knows what new healthy habit or hobby you will find by getting to know your Food Triggers.

Tanya Batche, RDN
Benessair Wellness Medical Center