Don’t Pull That Trigger!

I had a coffee date with a friend the other day and we started talking about our “trigger foods.” You know that one food that you can’t control yourself around and end up going overboard and eating copious amounts of? Yes…we all have them!  YES EVERYONE! I repeatedly see my clients beat themselves up emotionally and physically for overindulging in their triggers. My clients always look at me in complete disbelief when I say that yes, even this Nutrition Manager has her trigger foods. It is natural and I think everyone has them. They key is how to handle it!

My trigger food is cereal (ALL KINDS)! For some reason I can’t control myself around those pretty little boxes with all the pretty pictures on the front! I can go to town and finish off a box in no time flat (I am talking hours, not days, here people) So, what do I do? First, I have identified the actual trigger food: cereal! I have accepted it. I know what it is. Second, I rarely buy it. I can’t eat an entire box of something I don’t have, right? And third, if I really want cereal I don’t deny it…I cave and I buy a box and I make a conscious effort to eat an appropriate amount. Sometimes I win and sometimes I fail. But how I handle the outcome is just as important. I don’t beat myself up emotionally and tell myself what a “loser” I am. Instead I just try and enjoy the fact that I totally splurged on something I so obviously love! Next, I don’t physically beat myself up either by starving myself the next day. I just eat normal and move on. If you starve yourself you are only more likely to have another binge on something that normally isn’t a trigger but because you are so hungry you will go crazy on anything!

I think it is important to understand that all people, even the most healthy, have trigger foods. For some people it is chips, ice cream, cookies, etc. It is different for everyone and only you know what yours is. I just want to stress that it doesn’t make you a failure…it just makes you human.

What is your trigger food and how do you handle it?


35 Responses

  1. I’m the same with cereal, I’ve heard the same from a ton of people. I wonder what it is!?

  2. Nut butters.
    I just don’t have them in the house, and if I need them for a recipe, I buy single servings!

  3. I second the cereal. I think it does have crack in it.

    I try not to buy it but sometimes I do want some to mix into yogurt so I try to put it somewhere where it wont be in my direct vision, like on top of the fridge or in a cabinet behind something else. I have also immediately pre-portioned it into bags as soon as I opened the box.

  4. I agree with Mara…nut butters. I don’t keep them in the house.

  5. I don’t even know what my trigger food would be. I joke that it’s chips, but really I can control myself pretty well around them.

  6. Totally cereal! However, I have learned to overcome it somehow. I put it in my pantry so it’s not visible, and only eat it once a day or so!

  7. Mine is crackers… any type of crackers.. I can have them in house… but I have to watch myself.

  8. BREAD! any kind of bread. remember me wondering if I can take it with me to my death bed? yes, bread is my weakness. warm spongy bread. so delicious.

  9. Aha, so you’re kookoo for cocoa puffs! 😉 I would wager that a lot of people find cereal pretty irresistible. For me, I’d probably say my brain turns into Cookie Monster at the thought of cookie dough. So . . . not buying it helps. And then all of Averie’s recipes could very well be a godsend!

    In the end, I think I am pretty cool with stuff because I realize I can always have some more tomorrow.

  10. Totally cereal, but not the sweet kind. Chex is the most current favorite. I use a mug (small) and fill it up twice if I am splurging and that seems to do it for me. We are out of it at the moment – only Life in the pantry and no one likes it anymore.

  11. Yep, cereal for me too. And I thought I was weird! Like Maggie, I like the not sweet cereals. At my sister’s house over the holidays every night I ate a HUGE bowl with chex, cheerios, honey bunches of oats, and Life. A littel sprinkle of cinnamon and some maple syrup…drool. I am now very glad I don’t have any in the house!

    I always overeat it though, and handle it the same way you say. Back to normal. Same thing when I wake up at 2 am and eat a couple cookies. (blush)

  12. Too much …as you know :(…the difference is that I make myself SICK over it as in lie-on-the-couch-and-pray-for-sleep-cause-belly can’t breathe….

    do love me some cereal tho’- yes, apple jacks!! oh and I love alpha-bits – they leave the milk afterwards so good – I’m literally drinking it from the bowl…;) oops…

  13. Right now it’s the Brown Sugar Blondies by Do-Goodie. OMG. I can’t even buy them, as I’ve proven to myself that I can’t be trusted around them.

  14. Oh man…cereal is a HUGE trigger food of mine. I swear, I think I could eat 10 boxes and still not feel full!

  15. Oh wow – I have a list of trigger foods! Cereal, chocolate, marshmallows, tortilla chips just to name a few. The ONLY way I can eat these things without downing it all in one sitting is to measure out my servings. I have these great little bowls that look like normal bowls, but they’re actually measuring cups. I like pouring my cereal in them so I know just how much I’m eating.

  16. oh goodness! i can totally see how cereal would be one!!!! i dont really have any-but after one scoop of PB , i CAN NOT stop..gota have atleast 3!

  17. Cereal definitely gets me. So does peanut butter. I’ve been working on the PB issue by allowing myself to have it every day, if I want it.

  18. Cereal is definitely a trigger food for me which is why I don’t even let myself eat it. Luckily, I don’t miss it too much but put Fruity Pebbles in my sight and I am done! The main one for me is potato chips, I can’t just have a few and totally lose all sense of portion control when I eat them.

  19. Sweets, sweets and sweets are my trigger! I can’t even begin to tell you how difficult it is for me to turn down a brownie or cookie. I’ve really been struggling with that lately. I guess it could have something to do with Valentines being yesterday though…. 😉 I make a conscience effort to rid of the items in our house, but sometimes it’s just not possible. I’m a baker! I love to bake and love to try the things I bake.

    Thanks for the advice and encouragement that we’re all human and not failures. 🙂

  20. Mine is chocolate! I’ve been giving into all my chocolate cravings lately and it’s been really bad. I’m glad I read this post of yours, I’m wanting some chocolate right now.. actually all day! lol. I ate some yesterday so I’m really trying my best not to eat any today.

  21. My trigger food is sweets, specially cookies. Do not get me anywhere those “chewy chips ahoy” cookies. There is something about their chewy texture and chocolaty taste that I cannot resist!! I know they are my weakness so I don’t buy them.

  22. I have such a problem with cinnamon toast crunch. Oh the heavenly cinnamon swirls. But, mostly my old trigger foods stopped having that effect on my when I stopped “banning” them from my diet…

    It is hard, though, to stop the negative self-talk after consuming a whole box of cereal. I just try to accept it and move on…but, still hard.

  23. I don’t get the cereal addiction! I love me some cheerios, but it was never a binge food for me. Mine are cookies and ice cream…mmm. I used to go balls to the wall when I had them but I have slowly (and infally) learned moderation

  24. Anything crispy and salty. Nut butters used to do it, but since I started “allowing” them (go healthy fats!), they aren’t much of a problem anymore.

  25. Hmmm it depends on the week/day/hour haha but I’d day chocolate! My mom likes to buy me random big bags of candy during holiday seasons and I can seriously polish off the entire bag in one sitting! Ugh. I feel sick just thinking about it! Cereal’s been a problem in the past though too. Oh, and ice cream. Jeeeez. Someone’s got a sweet tooth!

  26. i agree. i just keep the foods out of my house and i’m fine. i’ll eat it if it’s there but if it’s not there i dont even think about it.

    i have sooo many trigger foods. remember that one post i had about binges? i just like all snacky things. cookies especially. OMG. so calorie dense but they are so small that i can eat so many! and ice cream. i love ice cream.

  27. Sweets. Definitely sweets. I can’t keep cookies or cake or any other sugary dessert around because I’ll eat it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, whatever. Strange enough, I can handle myself around ice cream. I don’t even like it!

  28. Mine is pizza. Definitely pizza. I only have it a couple times a year, because I know that I’ll order lots and eat it until it’s all gone. And I’ve accepted this! But 2 or 3 times a year is enough for me…


    i love & want them all… all the time! 😀

  30. Never been a big cereal person, but I can’t put the fork down if I’m eating pasta!

  31. My trigger foods are ice cream, peanut butter and chips. However, I feel like i have really come a long way in hangling them. I generally don’t keep ice-cream or peanut butter in the house. If I want ice-cream I will go out and get a cone or small sundae. That way it is a controlled amount and I can’t eat the entire tub 🙂 Peanut butter has become more of a “treat” that I will eat when I’m out for breakfast or something. My relationship with chips is not as bad as it used to be. I can have those in the pantry and eat a few every now and then as a snack with hummus or salsa. I have also learned to recognize when that open bag is becomming a problem and if I feel my control waning, I will simply send the rest with my husband to work or throw them away. All things in moderation is a great motto, but I also feel that recognizing when you know you won’t be able to exercise your moderation skills and taking the steps to find a healthy way to deal with it is just as important!

  32. My trigger food is peanut butter! I find that if I make sure I eat enough throughout the day I don’t crave it so much. Also now when I want some I question, am I really hungry or am I just bored/lonely/unhappy…whatever. My new years resolution has been to limit my consumption and so far so good!

    – Beth @

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