How to break down trigger foods

If you’re in the diet-binge cycle, you’ve got trigger foods.

You know what I mean… the one (or two, or fifty) foods that just make you feel totally cray-cray. The ones that you sweaaarrrr are calling your name from the kitchen cabinets. The betcha-can’t-have-just-one foods. The ones that you feel so crazy about that you eat them specifically just for binges.

What’s yours? I’ll tell you mine (or what they used to be, before I made peace with my body) : nut butters, baked goods of any kind (really, anything. I wasn’t picky), any combination of chocolate and peanut butter, trail mix, and cereal. Lots and lots of cereal.

I vividly remember going to the grocery store one weekend to pick up organic soymilk, a box of granola, bananas, and hemp seeds. (I had this weird thing where, whenever I binged, I had to add something “healthy” to it so that it didn’t seem as “bad” to me.) I went home and ate bowl after bowl after bowl, until I had finished the whole box in about an hour. I wanted to stop - the cereal, to my disappointment, didn’t even taste that good - but after even just one bowl, the shame had already sunk in.

You fat pig. Seriously? You went to the store just to buy some binge foods? I bet the cashier knew, too. She knew you went there just so you could down this whole thing in an afternoon. Gross. And there’s so much sugar in that cereal, too! And it’s full of chemicals and preservatives - you’re totally gonna die sooner because of this. Waaaay to gooooo. I hope you know you’re skipping dinner tonight.

...Some shame thoughts, just for starters.

Halfway through the box, the “screw it, let’s just eat the whole damn thing and tomorrow I’ll start over” mentality was in full throttle. Nothing could stop me from downing the entire box of sugary cereal with my side of shame. NOTHING!

Anyone else been here? I know how painful this feels.

I know how easy it is to think that all you need to do is control a little bit more in the hopes that you’ll have total power over this food. Cut down on the sugar more. Make even more foods completely off-limits. Add more time to your daily treadmill run. But that only ever leads to... another binge.

But there is a real way out.

The only way to break down your trigger foods and make them totally powerless over you is to allow them in completely.

I know how terrifying this sounds, but I want to challenge you to keep one trigger food in your house all day, every day. If you eat all of it, go buy more. This is vital. Yes, you will probably binge eat it for a while. Yes, you will want to quit. THAT’S OKAY! The idea is to have total allowance of this food, to make it totally normal to have around in your kitchen, so that eventually it’s no more tempting than a pile of raw kale - you just eat it when you crave it.

Total allowance includes emotional allowance as well. Meaning- it’s more than just eating it whenever you want. It’s about seeing it as neutral, not bad. Again, think of it as you would a bunch of raw kale (or whatever). Ask yourself, “If I didn’t think this food were ‘bad’, would I still want to binge on it?”

I did this exercise with myself for dozens of different foods while I was healing my relationship to food. I would go a few weeks with boxes of cereals always in my cabinet, then cookies, then ice cream, then tortilla chips… until each food, one by one, no longer tempted me. It was just normal. And I could eat it whenever I craved it, instead of feeling like I “had to” binge on it in order to get rid of it.

If you’re gonna try this - and I totally encourage you to!!! - let me know how it goes. Drop me a message here to let me know how it goes.