Healthy & Happy  

Factors that Influence our Food Choices

By: Dr. Kim Feinstein, Psy.D., Red Mountain Clinical Psychologist and Behavioral Weight Loss Specialist

Every day we are overwhelmed with eating “cues” — triggers that influence what and how much we eat. There are many reasons why we eat that have nothing to do with satisfying our physiological needs (e.g., social, external, and internal cues). Once you become aware of your food triggers, you can begin to manage these cues and eventually overcome them.

Social Cues:
When our social environment triggers us to behave in a certain way.
External Cues:
Environmental stimulants that encourage you to eat.
Internal Cues:
Patterns of thought, emotion, or underlying psychological issues that motivate you to act on an impulse.

Examples: Are you triggered to eat…

• Around certain family members or friends
• At parties or special occasions
• When you are conducting business
over a meal
• When being urged to eat by a food pusher
• At the sight or smell of food
• By specific foods
• At particular places
• While engaged in specific activities
• At certain times of the day
• When you are feeling sad or upset
• When you are tired
• When you are experiencing physical discomfort
• After an argument

Managing Your Eating Triggers

Turns out, you have more control than you think. Here are a few tips to help you manage your eating triggers.

Be Aware
Keep a journal of your emotions to help identify your eating patterns. For instance, do you find yourself habitually reaching for certain foods when you are mad, sad, or even happy?

Develop Positive Self-Talk
Our thoughts directly affect our behaviors. Write down your goals and desires and look to them often to help you stay focused on what you want. Refer to your list when self-defeating thoughts creep into your mind to remind yourself that you are capable of success.

Stop Distracted Eating
If you eat while watching TV, you are most likely paying more attention to what is happening on the screen than what you are putting into your mouth. Mindless eating not only makes food less satisfying, but it also leads to overeating.

Have a Plan
If you can’t avoid socializing, create a plan to successfully stay on track. Look at the menu before you arrive. Or get up and take a break in the middle of your meal if you are tempted to overeat.

Looking for a partner to help guide you through your weight loss journey? Click here to request an appointment to meet with one of our licensed medical providers.

Author Image

Dr. Kim Feinstein, Psy. D. is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and Red Mountain’s Behavioral Weight Loss Specialist. She specializes in weight management, body image concerns, and eating disorders. She prides herself in her ability to educate, guide, and inspire patients to overcome obstacles and ultimately achieve their goals.