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.
When our social environment triggers us to behave in a certain way.
Environmental stimulants that encourage you to eat.
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.
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.
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