If you find yourself craving a certain unhealthy food over and over, you may have some food triggers that you need to identify and replace with healthier eating habits. Here are three tips that may help.
First of all, what is a food trigger anyway? Food triggers are said to be particular foods (usually unhealthy ones) that you find yourself eating even though you know they aren’t good for you, and you can’t seem to stop. These foods are often junk foods with little nutritional value, that contain a lot of unhealthy ingredients like sugars and processed fats. To get rid of your food triggers, first you will need to identify them, and then replace them with healthier options.
Food triggers are said to be caused by several factors, with the two most common being emotional memories and a lack of nutrients in the diet. For example, craving potato chips during emotional eating can be triggered by the memory of reaching for those snacks when you were younger and feeling upset by something that happened to you, or by a lack of sodium or healthy fats in your diet.
Here are a few tips for identifying your food triggers.
1. Keep a Journal
One of the first ways to find your food triggers is to keep a journal. This doesn’t have to be anything major or outstanding. It can be a simple paper notebook or it can be an app on your tablet. What you really need is an area to take notes when you notice yourself being triggered to eat a certain food. If you are having a craving for a certain food, or if you grab a specific food when you are having an emotional time in your life, write it down. Keep the date, the type of food you are eating, and any notes about the food as well as how you were feeling before, during, and after eating it. After a few weeks, go back and look at your entries, taking notice of triggers that are recurring and food that keeps coming up during these moments. With this information in hand, you can start making healthier food choices by noticing a certain feeling that triggers an unhealthy eating pattern, and consciously choosing a better food instead.
2.) Use Your Phone
Your smartphone can actually be a great way to keep track of your food triggers. Take a picture of your food every time you eat and keep the picture in a gallery on your phone. You can also use a food app or a health app that keeps track of the supplements you take, as well as the food you eat and can tell you which foods you keep reaching for. This can help you see if you are missing something in your diet that is causing the trigger and possibly give you options to replace the triggers.
3. Break Down What You Eat
If you find that your food triggers are not tied to emotional responses, then it may be due to a nutrient issue or lack of the right nutrients. Start breaking down your food trigger choices. For example, if you are always craving potato chips start thinking about why. What is in them that could be triggering a nutritional need? Most potato chips are simply made of potatoes, oil, and salt for seasoning. Are you grabbing them for the starch, the carb, or the salt? This simple breakdown question can help you figure out which ingredients you may be craving, and made dietary adjustments to correct any nutritional deficiencies.
These methods are all fairly easy ways to find your food triggers, figure out why the triggers are happening, and replace the triggers with healthier options. By incorporating all three of these methods you can not only keep track of your food triggers, but also reduce stress and emotional eating, and take control of your cravings while enjoying a healthier and more nutritious diet.