Behavioral Triggers

Behavioral triggers are behaviors that cause and encourage unconscious eating. Unconscious eating is eating without realizing how much is being consumed. Behavioral triggers involve the act of eating with a specific kind of activity simultaneously. This person can eat and eat, but doesn’t realize how much s/he is eating. They might not care, either, about how much they are eating. Their minds are elsewhere when they are eating. Hence, the amount they consume winds up being more than what they needed. 

Now sometimes, a person might want to engage in unconscious eating. This might be an escape or a stress reliever. But the problems begin when the weight piles on, and some decision must be made to deal with it.

Trigger behaviors can include eating a bag of chips in front of the TV or eating at the computer while you do work. These types of triggers are often done in isolation. One may even plan to have time alone in order to do this.

If you engage in behavioral triggers, you have two choices:
1.Continue on the way you have been going, continue to gain weight and stay in denial that there is a problem. Note here, that this is a decision: it is a decision to ignore the problem.

2.Change the behavior in some way. You can cut back, you can change the food or the activity, or you can stop doing them together. However, if one attempts to stop the food, but continue the activity, there will be a void. There will still be that urge to eat while engaging in the activity. Something will have to replace the food.

If you have opted for #2, in the case of television, simply turning off the TV might do the trick. But in the case of computer work (that is probably a necessary thing), something will have to be substituted. 

Try keeping a large glass of water right next to your computer. You might also try brewing a cup of hot tea to sip on while you work. Regardless what you change, you will notice that something is different at first, and there will be some discomfort. Move through the discomfort and know that it will dissipate with time. Good luck!

Situational Triggers

Some foods may not be triggers, but the impulse to overeat or binge may be a result of a situation in one’s life that occurs periodically. For example, a situational trigger can be work-related, where one has a regular meeting that causes stress. It could be hiring or firing of an employee, or even a particular event where loads of food are brought in from an outside source.
     Another trigger situation could be going to a party and “socializing” right by the food table, making it an easy temptation to indulge in too much food.
     The person who is prone to these situational triggers is automatically going to fall into the pattern of overeating in these cases, unless they are aware of what is happening. But as you can see, situational triggers don’t have to be negative to have a negative impact on one’s weight loss goals. In fact, the positive events on one’s life can be the worst culprits!
     Take a quick inventory of a situation in your life, where you are tempted to eat for no other reason than the fact that you find yourself in that particular situation. Once you are aware of your tendencies, you can make decisions to change your behavior.

Substance Triggers

0fe123a12ab66caaa0fccb242fae20bcHave you ever eaten something that caused you to crave more of the same at a later time? Do you have a certain food item (some people call it their “poison”) that you go to when you choose to indulge? Is there a specific food item in your life that you have a love-hate relationship with, meaning that you love to eat it, but you always feel badly after having eaten it? These could be your substance triggers.

And the most important questions are, if you know what your substance triggers are, do you want to rid yourself of them and no longer be a slave to them? Do you want to recapture control over your life and not let any kind of food item control you?

If you answered yes to the previous two questions, then you are ready to be catapulted into the next dimension of life! But it won’t do you any good to rely on circumstance or luck to make it happen. You are going to be the source of your own success in this matter. You are going to have to choose each day and each meal exactly how and what you will and will not eat.

Becoming aware of your substance triggers is the first step. Most people who struggle with their weight don’t ever get to this step. They go through life confused as to why they can’t seem to get control over the food – and their weight. If you have become aware of what your substance triggers are, you can begin now to protect yourself from being sabotaged, and you then have hope of reaching your weight loss goals. But this will take time and planning. Here is something you can do today to begin:

Take an inventory of your kitchen, pantry, refrigerator and office setting. What do you have control over? Are you able to remove temptations? What unnecessary and tempting foods lurk in the shadows of your pantry or refrigerator? How about the jar of candy on your desk? Who is that for? Is it more of a temptation to you than your co-workers?

Take control over those things you are able to take control over. Make the decision now, and stick with it. Next time, we will talk about situational triggers.

What Are Your “Triggers”?

contentFirst, let me define “trigger”, for those of you who may not know…

A trigger is any person, place, thing, situation – or food, that has a tendency to cause one to overeat.

Common trigger substances are sugar and white flour. These substances wind their way in to a multitude of foods, such as breads, bagels, pastas, cookies, candy or pastries. Some people may call these foods, “comfort foods”, meaning when they need comfort – something emotional is going on – they want to receive comfort in the food. But by eating these junky foods, we set up a craving that makes it irresistible to NOT eat that food the next day – and so on.

I want to talk about this “comfort” for a moment. First of all, food is not capable of rendering comfort. In fact, if I am to indulge in comfort food for the sake of receiving comfort, I will be less than comforted after consuming vast quantities of nutritionally empty food. Why? Because I started off feeling emotionally vulnerable and needing comfort. I needed to connect, to be loved by someone, or I needed a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on. Or perhaps, I just needed to go to bed after a rough day.

But what I did instead of meeting my needs head-on, was to eat food: lots of junky food, with the presumption that this food was going to meet my emotional needs and make me feel better.

Not only did the food not meet my needs, but also I felt worse after indulging. I felt fat. I deviated from my goals to take better care of my body. And finally, I continued a pattern that will be harder to break now, since I have had one more time to strengthen it.

How do we break this cycle? How do we stop indulging in this type of food and behavior that works against us and makes us feel badly about ourselves?

For me, it took time to see the signs – the triggers – that something was up. Something was stirring in my emotions that I wasn’t even aware of at first, and I was doomed to fall into another binge. When I became willing to look at myself objectively, I began to see those signs that something was wrong and that I had some emotional needs.  I began to recognize my triggers. I became aware that the food was not going to meet my emotional needs, and I had to become willing to reach out elsewhere to get my needs met – and this time, they really would get met, because I would be addressing the issue the right way – instead of isolating with food.

When I isolate and overeat, it makes me feel badly about myself and I isolate more, because I don’t feel worthy of other people’s company. My self-esteem suffers.

What are your triggers? Are you able to see the signs that might warn you of a binge coming up? And how can you intercept that behavior with a more healthy one?

If You Are Tempted To Overeat

If you are tempted to overeat, LEAVE THE KITCHEN! Simply get out of the kitchen or leave the  house if the temptation is too great. And whatever you do, don’t go back in the kitchen for at least 30 minutes!

You can also do physical exercise, or do something constructive. Not only do you shift away from what you don’t want, but also you do something so positive and get the body so involved that you can’t help but feel better – and lose the desire to overeat! So when you are tempted to overeat, go for a walk, work out at home or the gym, garden, ride a bike, mall-walk or tackle that overstuffed closet upstairs!

Be More Socially Interactive! Part 3 and Final

Yesterday, my daughter had a school holiday, and here’s where my head was in the morning:  I had all sorts of plans for what I wanted to do, which did not involve her.

Well, that didn’t last a New York minute! Do you know one thing I love about having a young person in my life? It’s that she has this uncanny ability to pull me away from whatever it is I am doing, regardless of how important it may seem to me to be at the moment!!

We played “hide the Lego Friend” outside; we raced everywhere to the tune of, “Last one there’s a rotten egg!”; I recorded several movies of her doing her activity of choice, her being the star of her show; we played I don’t know how many games of hide and seek; swung on the swing set – I could go on and on!

So a funny thing happened through all of this…at the end of the day, I found that I had been more productive and that I got more work done than expected! How could this be, you ask? Well, I was more focused when I did have a minute to do something on my computer. For example, I would negotiate, “Okay, let’s play a game of hide-and-seek, I’ll hide, then you’ll hide. Then I’ll write one email!” Of course, my little one agreed to this compromise. I became more efficient! I didn’t waste any time being diverted from my task at hand.

I would guess that balancing out my life with more social, face-to-face interaction would have this impact on other areas of my life, too: it would stimulate me and give me more energy and focus. This is the stuff of life and where the rich rewards lie!

Volunteering Creates a Positive Mental Attitude!

Most of the time, I am pretty outgoing and willing to go the extra mile, volunteer and take on new tasks. Life is good and I’m on track.

But there have been times I have gotten so self-absorbed that I haven’t felt like reaching out or doing anything for anyone. That sounds pretty selfish, doesn’t it? But here’s what I have done to fix that: I’ve set a regular schedule with certain volunteer activities. I am accountable to others to do this work and I will get sent my “assignment”, so this one thing holds me to doing the volunteering, whether I feel like it or not. Or, I have a specific time each week that I go somewhere to volunteer, and people are expecting me.

A funny thing happens when I do the thing I know I should do, which is often the thing I do not want to do: I feel better! Holding myself accountable to this volunteering takes me out of myself and keeps me on the track I want to be on, because I am a better person for doing it. And this feels good.

What kinds of volunteering get you out of yourself the most? The least?

The community newspaper and public library are great ways to learn about volunteer activities in one’s area, but these possibilities are endless! If you haven’t done so yet, get out there and commit to doing one small thing every week, where you are accountable to an organization for your volunteer work. That way, you won’t have to learn the hard way, like I did!

Be More Socially Interactive! Part 2

Isolation and overeating are brothers.

Reaching out to other people can be hard, especially to those who have gotten comfort in isolation with food. Being more socially interactive is one action that counters isolation. When one takes initiative to get out of isolation and be more social, the desire for that extra food may naturally disappear. On the other hand, if one sets out to indulge less often, this creates a vacuum. Since nature abhors a vacuum, something must replace that which was removed. If nothing replaces the habit of overindulging, guess what? The person won’t change and will eventually return to his or her old habits of overeating. Decide now what you will replace that bad habit with, and go to it! Don’t delay!

Social clubs of all types are everywhere. There are organized “meet-up” groups on the web, where people hook up on-line with common interests, then go out and actually meet with these people and do fun things, such as participating in book clubs, hiking clubs, mothers who do lunch clubs – the list is endless! Churches and the community newspaper can also be a great resource once one decides to be more socially interactive.

So is the hard part for us “deciding” and then “acting” upon our decision? I know I have had the best of intentions with certain ideals that never got off the ground. Let’s pick one thing today that we will do different, and see how that effects our mindset!

Be More Socially Interactive!

I am sure everyone has gotten used to writing 2014 now! Upping the year in our written documents is a habit that must change at the beginning of each year. But how about other habits? How about those new years resolutions? I have an idea!!!

If I were to take a poll, I would be willing to bet that if there were 2 possible new year’s resolutions, such as…

1. Become more active with social media, get more comfortable with many types of social media


2. Spend more time face to face with friends and loved ones,

That #1 would win as the resolution of choice.

Which is it for you? I, personally, am all over #1. And now that I’ve written that, I’m not very proud of it, either. It is a necessity, though, for anyone who is in business: easy to rationalize. And it’s so much fun to engage in, personally! On the other hand, those relationships will always be there, right? Hmm.

But something’s missing, isn’t it? The social and interactive “direct access” connection we get and give by spending time with someone in person. Even Skype and Face Time don’t have the same impact as physically being with someone. We are missing the 100% communication-ability that happens when we are immediately connected with one’s face, body, body language and voice!!

I am going to challenge you and challenge myself today. My challenge is to contact someone who we don’t know very well to meet up someplace and do lunch or coffee or something like that. And actually follow through!! I have a feeling that this type of socializing is a dying art in our world – and one that needs to be revived for our sense of well-being and connectedness!

How are you with the social media thing? I’ve heard some speak lately of wanting to cut back on the social media, that they really don’t feel it is adding a whole lot to their lives. What are your thoughts?

The next post will be an update! Happy social-not media-izing!

Controlling My Thinking

I learned something a while back I want to share with you… I started to pay attention to my thoughts and what was going through my head. I did this to become more aware of when I was thinking negatively. What I found was that there were two scenarios that would cause my mind to spin out of control:

1. Some circumstance out of my control would happen (an unexpected bill, an expected bill, a medical issue, a disruptive child, an inconsiderate driver, etc., etc…) and it would set off a chain reaction of thought in my head and affect me for some time thereafter; or
2. I would wake up with a negative mindset (due to hormones, waking up on the wrong side of bed, and who knows what else) and be unable to shake it off.
Needless to say, I lived in negativity: MARINATED in it. Negative was comfortable. I was so used to it! One day a dear friend asked me, “Annette, how much positivity can you handle at one time?” This question stunned me. I had no idea, but I was intrigued and determined to find out! This question inspired me to look to higher ground. It was at this point that I really began to tune in to what was going on upstairs and begin to take control of my mind.
Once I decided to pay attention to my mindset, I became aware of how I was plagued and driven by negative thoughts. Now, I want to take a moment and ask you the question, “Why do you think I didn’t pay attention to my thoughts before?”
Thank you for asking! I am happy to tell you that I never even considered the possibility that I might have an inkling of control over my own thoughts! In fact, I truly thought I was powerless over my mind, my feelings and my thoughts. I concluded for many years that I was doomed because of my mindset: and I was, for “as a man thinketh, so is he”.
Happily, over time this all changed. I became aware of what was happening inside me and believed that I did, in fact, have control over my mind and my thoughts, that I have control over what I focus on and what I choose to NOT focus on.
Don’t wait to do this! Your whole life will change as a result of your doing this one thing: taking control of your own mind!!!