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Posted on 04-05-2017

Did you know that when you experience a food trigger, real biological signals occur, and these in turn cause you to be hungry?

  • When you are triggered by the sight, smell, or even the thought of certain foods, several things happen:
  • Saliva production doubles, and stomach secretions increase for digestion
  • Stomach muscles relax, creating room for food, and the stomach contracts to move food through the gut
  • Insulin is released from the pancreas, which can further increase hunger (insulin is a hunger hormone)

What can you do to decrease food triggers? These simple strategies may help:

Know your trigger foods. They are going to be unique to you.  I had a patient tell me today that peanut butter was her all-time trigger. For others, its simple carbohydrates such as bagels. For me, it’s brownies. Regardless of what it is, Keep them out of the house, or at least out of sight.

Stick to regular meal and snack times. Your stomach expects to have food at certain times. Skipping meals will only make you hungrier and often this leads to overeating.

Drink enough water. The signal for thirst and hunger are actually very similar and often thirst is mistaken for hunger.

Eat a diet high in fiber. Fiber is important in your diet to help you feel full and helps your gut run smoothly. Aim for about 35 grams (the average American has only about 14 grams daily). Vegetables are a perfect high fiber food. 

When food is out of sight, it’s often out of mind. So, clear the kitchen counter of snack foods and replace it with fruit. Don’t have candy on your work desk. Clean out the kitchen cupboard and pantry so the first food you see is the healthiest.

Be cautious when stock piling foods from the huge wholesale clubs like Sam’s, B.J.’s and Costco. Although they may seem like a bargain, research has shown that consumers eat half of what they buy within the first week of buying it. This is twice as fast as they normally would. A solution I often recommend is to repackage food into snack-sized baggies. Nut Thins are a big trigger for many of my patients but if they are packaged 10 to a bag, it removes a lot of the temptation to eat more.

Slow you’re eating down. Take the time to enjoy the aroma, taste, and texture of your food. Often, we eat so quickly, we hardly know what we’ve eaten.

A trick I learned in a psychology class in college still works for me today. Imagine that a food that you are craving is spoiled or has bugs in it. Anything that makes a tempting food inedible in your mind.  

A wonderful resource is the book Slim by Design Mindless Eating Solutions by Brian Wansink, PhD.    

Remember, food triggers will never go completely away, but the can DEFINITELY be managed!

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