Reach Your Fitness & Weight Loss Goals by Mastering Your Triggers!
Updated: Nov 4, 2022
WellFit by Jennie services include Personal Training, Health & Wellness Coaching, Fitness Assessments. Available person to person in Charlottesville, Albemarle County, Central Virginia, VA or online nationally.
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The past 2 years have been challenging for all of us on many levels. Whether or not we have experienced COVID-19 first-hand, we have at minimum had to tolerate some major inconveniences in our lives. These have often resulted in significant disruptions around our own self-care both physically and emotionally.
Being a parent or a grandparent has taken on a whole new meaning, for example, as families have scrambled to find solutions for child care and adapt to virtual learning. In general, the usual rhythm and routine has gone by the wayside along with our workout schedules, nutrition practices, and social support. Unsurprisingly, many people have gained weight and lost fitness. What can we do to shed that unwelcome COVID 19 (pounds) besides exercise and “diet”?
There is much value in understanding our individual triggers when it comes to our diet, meaning the foods that we choose to consume. We can reach for food in response to physical or emotional hunger. How can we tell the difference?
When eating in response to physical hunger, we are using food as fuel. The hunger sensations develop slowly over time. It is more balanced as we will desire a variety of food groups. There is a pleasant sense of fullness in response to eating, which is the cue to stop eating. In general, there will be no negative feelings like guilt and shame about eating.
On the other hand, when eating in response to emotional hunger, we are using food solely for its ability to placate or soothe us in some way. The hunger comes on suddenly or abruptly. There will likely be some specific food cravings. You may binge on food and not feel that satisfying sensation of fullness; instead, it's as though your stomach is a bottomless pit. And you feel badly about the behavior.
We can be triggered by certain foods, situations, and/or emotions. When triggered, we can react by overeating, eating unhealthy foods that are off of our personal nutrition plan, and/or engaging in eating-disordered behavior such as bingeing & purging.
There may be foods that once you “engage” with them by having them in the house or taking that first bite, you cannot moderate or stop yourself. It is a slippery slope. These can be any number of foods, such as sweets, baked goods, chocolate, salty crunchy foods, pizza, etc.
Situations that lower your resistance can be as diverse we are as people. These situations can involve social/family gatherings, being around a certain person, a work deadline, watching an action movie, or arguing with a partner, among others.
Emotions like sadness, loneliness, disappointment, anger, guilt, and anxiety can become associated with self-soothing behaviors like eating. Even excitement can become a trigger! However, this not only provides an only temporary solution, but makes things worse in the long run as more negative emotions and health consequences are generated.
In 12-step programs, recovering people are cautioned to watch out for 4 states that can lead to a relapse of the addictive behavior of choice. The acronym H.A.L.T. stands for “hungry, angry, lonely, or tired”. Who among us has never felt one of these and NOT responded with emotional eating?
Consider using one of the following ways to help you deal constructively with triggers:
- Journaling emotions
- Becoming aware of the patterns that lead to a food-related setback
- Keeping a food and exercise log
- Conversation with a supportive person
- Movement/ exercise
- Using that emotional energy to clean the house or the car!
- Keeping trigger foods out of the house in the first place
- Measuring out your food and put it on a plate
- Remove yourself from the situation e.g. leaving the kitchen right after dinner
- Using positive, empowering self-talk
- Occupying yourself for 3 minutes, the length of time it takes for a food craving to subside
What needs are you trying to meet using food? What can you put in your toolbox to help? Reach out to me at WellFit by Jennie and get the kind of support that you deserve to help you succeed!