How to Feel in Control of Your Trigger Foods

Do you have certain foods you feel like you must keep out of the house or you will eat them without control? Often we call these foods our “trigger foods,” meaning they tend to trigger a binge or we feel like we can’t control the portion we’d intended to originally eat.

I’d like this blog post to begin to help you think of your trigger foods differently. Ultimately, we can feel like we have more control over these foods because we can change how we act around them when we encounter them in our daily lives. We can build new, and different, relationships with these foods.

And yes, with continued practice, it is even possible to live, what I call, a #NoBannedFoods lifestyle.

During my dieting years I had quite a few trigger foods. Most of them were sweets like cookies, chocolate or candy. Other times my trigger foods were salty like potato chips. No matter which foods I felt I needed to stay away from at the time, my end fear was always the same…. allowing these trigger foods in my life would lead to weight gain and poor health.


1) Break the pattern – start slow

The first step is realizing we are going to work to break the pattern and change our relationship with these foods, but also realize that it can’t be done overnight.

We must start slow, but with continued awareness and practice it’s completely possible to build a new relationship with these foods and start to adopt a #NoBannedFoods lifestyle.

2) Build your foundation

Begin by building your base of healthy nutrition so you can set yourself up for success. Start a food journal for two weeks and record what you normally eat. This is not to count calories or create restrictions, but instead get a good picture of what you’re currently eating.

Then look back at your food journal and start to count how often you are having your “PVWs” (protein, veggies, and drinking your water quota).

  • Are you having lean protein at least 3 times per day?
  • Are you eating vegetables (especially low-starch veggies) with at least 3 meals or snacks?
  • Are you drinking a minimum of 80 oz of water?

These are the foods that help keep us have less hunger and set us on the path to good health while we are working on building our new relationship with our trigger foods.

Instead of focusing on removing certain foods, shift the focus to ADDING your protein, veggies and water.

3) Start with one

Start your journey by allowing yourself one “trigger food” that doesn’t feel too uncontrollable to practice on at first.

Practice adding a small portion of your previously “forbidden” food into your diet 1-2 times per week or more (depending on what makes you most comfortable). Start with one food that’s not so intimidating. You can move up from there. If you’re more comfortable, you can even try pairing the food with something healthy to help you stay full.

Tip: You also have the option of buying pre-portioned packages of the food if that helps you, instead of buying full packages. This helps with chips, ice cream, cookies, etc.

Take your time and practice with this. There is no rush.

4) Practice, Practice, Practice

Expose yourself to the previously forbidden food on a consistent basis until it starts to lose some of its allure. I promise that does happen, but consistent exposure is key for this part.

Have patience if you mess up or binge, especially at first. I know from experience it can feel scary to start this process. But cut yourself slack and remind yourself the old way (binge-then-deprive) is not working for you.

Think big picture.

It took time for me to work through all my previous trigger foods, but it’s been so worth it in the long run not to feel out of control anymore when around my previous trigger foods.

Let me know if you give it a try. I’d love to hear how you do throughout your journey.