I have a confession to make...
I LOVE Oreos.
Now let me explain because I don't think you completely understand...
I don't just really really REALLY like Oreos.
I FREAKING LOVE Oreos.
If you put 3 Oreos in front of me, I am going to eat 3 Oreos. If you put ten Oreos in front of me, I'll ask for eleven.
For me, trying to add Oreos responsibly into my diet just doesn't work...No matter how many I eat, I always want more!
For someone else, it might be chocolate chip cookies, ice cream, or potato chips.
We all have those foods that we just can't get enough of...
I call these "Trigger Foods."
A trigger food is a specific food that sets off a sequence of events that often lead to overeating.
Trigger foods can also induce a loss of control over your eating actions and an insatiable desire for that particular food.
On the other hand, there are also foods that fall into the category of "Food Cravings".
These are foods that you occasionally "crave" but don't have a strong psychological addiction to.
For example, I occasionally crave chocolate (specifically this brand), but I can control myself around it.
I can eat a few squares or half a bar and completely satisfy my craving.
Common trigger foods and cravings include the combinations of sugar and fat (e.g. ice cream & cookies) or fat and salt (e.g. potato chips, mixed nuts, or french fries).
While they may seem similar in idea, there is no denying the critical difference between food cravings and trigger foods.
While cravings can be satisfied and even be used to assist in weight loss, trigger foods have the potential to create a catastrophic eating frenzy which could lead to binge eating and weight gain.
Unsure of which foods are triggers or cravings for you?
Luckily, I have a pretty air-tight checklist for identifying if a food is a craving (in which case small indulgences may be useful) or a trigger (in which case that food should be eliminated and kept out of site, out of mind).
Is it a Craving or a Trigger?
Before we jump into the checklist, It's important to note that both food cravings and trigger foods are psychological in nature.
By this, I mean that a specific urge to eat a food (especially one high in processed sugar and fat) is usually not the same as true hunger.
When you're hungry, mostly anything will sound good.
When you have a strong desire for a particular food like cookies or chips, it's typically because of the psychological addiction high fat, sugary foods provoke.
Eventually, your goal should be to lessen or completely eliminate the psychological dependence you have towards these foods - a crucial step in my program Envision Yourself Thin.
However, the first step is to identify what foods serve as cravings and which act as triggers.
For my full, in-depth list for identifying food triggers and cravings, click the link below
If you'd rather not download my free report, then here is a quick checklist of some of the major things to look out for...
(You should ask these questions with different foods that you find tempting or struggle with overeating.)
1. Does the particular food make you feel psychologically better or worse after eating it? (i.e. do you feel happier or less happy after eating the food?)
Yes - The food is probably just a Craving
No - The food might be a Trigger Food for you
2. Can you easily control your portion size with the food?
Yes - The food is probably just a Craving.
No - The food might be a Trigger Food for you.
3. Does your desire to eat the food lessen after a small and controlled indulgence?
Yes - The food is probably just a craving.
No- If your desire increases or stays the same, the food might be a trigger food for you.
Now that you have a better idea of whether a particular food is a trigger food or a craving, you can start taking action steps for each to make losing weight easier and more enjoyable!
What To Do if a Food is a Craving
If you simply crave a particular food, the best plan of action is to allow for small indulgences in moderation.
Remember, trying to eliminate all foods that you crave will ultimately deplete your willpower. This, in turn, could result in binge eating or overeating that particular food.
The better option is to take control of your craving by allowing for small indulgences.
Responsibly indulging in food cravings using portion control and moderation will help satisfy your craving without interrupting your weight loss goals in the progress.
Even more, allowing for the occasional treat will lessen your desire to eat that food whereas fighting the urge could exacerbate it.
(Fighting the urge to eat a food you crave has the potential to turn that food from a mere craving into a full-blown trigger food...yeah, not good.)
Allow for a few small indulgences for food cravings throughout the week and you should be good to go.
Also, be sure to listen to your body.
If you feel satisfied indulging in a food craving once a week, then don't eat that food 3-4 times a week.
Likewise, if you crave a food multiple times a week, allow for the small indulgence. Just be sure to be aware of the calories and feelings you get from eating that food.
What to do if a food is a trigger
My advice for trigger foods is quick and simple...
DON'T EAT THEM!
We've already established that these foods aren't going to make you feel better after eating them, on the contrary, they'll likely lead to overeating and feelings of regret.
Now, I know simply saying "NO" to these foods is easier said than done.
Trigger foods invoke a psychological "loss of control" and relying on willpower alone to stop yourself from eating it won't be effective, especially if your exposure to the trigger food is prolonged. (i.e. your trigger food is sitting on the kitchen counter all day).
The best method I have found for avoiding the consequences of eating trigger foods is to physically distance yourself from them.
As the saying goes...
"Out of sight, out of mind"
If you live alone, keep trigger foods out of your house.
If you live with others, ask them to either not buy that specific food or have them keep the food out of the kitchen.
For example, I know my trigger food are Oreos. Since I lived with two other brothers who liked to eat Oreos (in a responsible way), they would always end up back in the food drawer.
Instead of trying to fight my urge to eat the Oreos, I asked my brothers to keep the boxes back in their rooms. This way they could still have them, and I wouldn't have to worry about fighting against my urge to eat them all day.
One step closer to Weight Loss Freedom.
Losing weight is hard...
Especially for folks who've dealt with emotions and psychological addictions to food that has kept them overweight or obese for the majority of their life.
Understanding the difference between food cravings and food triggers will help move you one step closer to your ultimate goal of weight loss freedom.
What's more is that making this small step can result in even more positive movements towards a healthier mind and body.
Once you identify a food craving or trigger, it immediately loses a portion of its power over you.
This new-found control over your food is what will make reducing cravings and eliminating trigger foods possible.
Want my full FREE report for identifying, lessening, and eliminating food cravings and triggers? Click the button below and you'll get instant access!