Food Triggers and a BINGE ?- NO MORE !
Problematic eaters spend much of their lives trying to avoid "triggers" that might induce a compulsive eating episode, a "risky" choice, or a full out binge. The constant stress of a compulsive eater, around the uncertainty of how the day with food will look often feels defeating, paralyzing, and devastating. Most Problematic Eaters are aware of their " Food Triggers", the ones that are listed in BOLD LETTERS under "DANGER FOODS", and they tend to associate these trigger with a belief that the particular food is innately BAD for them, and that the body will react in a way in which they will "loose control " and are therefore constantly obsessed about avoiding this particular DANGER FOOD or DANGER FOOD SUBSTANCE.
For example, many believe that they cannot safely eat sugar. It runs at the top of the DANGER LIST and is something they will never be able to eat in a "normal" way….
What is important to understand here is that it is NOT the sugar (or particular food item) that is THE problem, but instead the perceptions and beliefs around the sugar that are creating the compulsive, repetitive behaviours. If you believe that once you being to eat sugar you will not be able to eat it in a rational way, than this is what will happen. Also, if you have patterns associated with sugar, such as emotional pathways that are linked to sugar as a "medicine" for the soul, then this is what will ignite when you go for that "hit" to soothe the unwanted emotions or uncomfortable situations.Or, if the thought that gets triggers as soon as you have taken that unwanted bite is, " I blew it- the rest of the day is ruined", then this is what is going to materialize.
Other triggers such as interpersonal, behavioural, cognitive and emotional are what are behind this connection to FOOD…but what most Problematic Eaters focus on, is only the food itself. This is what keeps compulsive eaters in the "food spiral" that never ends….
I know this topic is an emotional one…and the extremes want to completely take over here…
" you mean I can just eat whatever I want and I will be fine ? or … " If I start eating sugar its game over, I know from experience- so I must avoid it - forever !"
NO- Im not saying just eat whatever you want ( in fact in the beginning it is a good idea to avoid the foods at the top of the list for sure), but Im also not saying that you have to be afraid of your danger foods forever …..in fact- freedom is being able to remove that DANGER FOODS list for GOOD. Sure, we all want to eat in a healthy way, and most foods on the "DANGER LIST" are not foods that we want to be consuming huge amounts of…but this is about freedom of the mind- freedom to CHOOSE.
So- HOW do you get rid of the Danger List FOR GOOD?
There are steps and stages to becoming conscious of the emotional, interpersonal and cognitive triggers that lie behind the food for each individual and a good reminder is that for any Problematic Eater- this is a PROCESS and doesn't happen over night. But it DOES happen.
The most important step on this journey to heal from Problematic Eating FOR GOOD is the FOOD DIARY !
Most Problematic Eaters have experimented with a "Food Diary" that is focused on…the FOOD ! Its been about counting calories, putting checks for good days, punishing themselves for the bad, restricting and white knuckling it through the day…
That is NOT what we are talking about here ! The types and amounts of food are really not important here..what IS important is what was going on at the time of the eating episode…in other words, what feelings were present, behaviours and interpersonal events.
Rather than focusing on calorie counting or dieting the focus is on eliminating dieting and normalizing your eating so that your daily eating routine begins to look like a more regular pattern of three meals and two snacks per day. The food diary breaks what James Stabler terms, the "highway hypnosis" . This is the unconscious behaviour that happens with food and food patterns. Just as its easy to be in a trance and "wake up" after a short driving stint, missing all the small details along the way..its easy to be in a food trance- and not " wake up " until after a binge.
FOOD DIARY :
The first column looks at the time you ate.
The second column is to help you make sense of the circumstances that lead to overeating or that protect you from either dieting or over eating. We look here at your physical sensations, which include whether you feel hungry or full, although if you have been dieting or overeating for some time, you may have lost touch with these bodily sensations, so it may not be easy to determine at first.
In the third column , you write down very generally, what you eat and drink. And roughly how much. Don't worry about adding up calories just simply write how much you are eating in terms of amounts as accurately as possible. This column will be very helpful later, when you are discerning whether you're over eating is actually related to not giving your body enough food during the day.
In the fourth column you discern whether or not you have over eaten. It is easy to think we have or haven't overeat because of the types of food we eat or our feelings at that time. This helps us to be more in touch with our bodies needs.
The fifth column asks you to consider how you are feeling and what your thoughts are when you are eating. What mindsets influence your eating? Are you anxious, depressed, or in an angry state?
* In this column focus on what TRIGGERS might be present ( interpersonal, emotional and/or environmental)
EX) Ate a box of cookies- felt anxious, upset , angry…. trigger : argument with husband.
The outline may look like this :
1. Time :
2. Physical Sensations :
3. What food/ How Much:
4. Have I overeaten ?
5. Feelings/ Thoughts/ Triggers
The FOOD DIARY is the NUMBER ONE SOLUTION to begin to get conscious of the REAL triggers and how they are affecting you ! From there you can begin to develop awareness around what is really "eating you" .
* It is very helpful to work with a mentor as you begin this process…don't let the FOOD DIARY become another restriction tool, yet another diet…. END THE ROLLER COASTER WITH FOOD- FOR GOOD !
* PS I invite you to share these posts, on Facebook or Twitter with anyone you feel would benefit and if you feel inspired, to write your feedback insights through the ‘Comment’ key on this blog….