Friday, August 6, 2010

Stop Drop and Take Control

Here is a summary of my Weight Watchers meeting on August 3, 2010.

Ever find yourself binge eating uncontrollably? How about the sneak eating- hovering over the kitchen sink in the middle of the night so there is no crumb evidence? We have no problems eating an apple in front of others but an ice cream cone-NO WAY?

Lets learn a way to conquer these times. The best thing that you can do once you’ve realized you have lost control is to

1. Stop what you are doing.
2. Drop what you are eating
3. Have a plan to take control!

Identifying and understanding eating triggers can help you prevent this from happening. A trigger can be defined as something that sets in motion a course of events.

When it comes to eating triggers, they fall into three separate categories: trigger foods, trigger feelings, and trigger environments.

• Trigger Foods
A trigger food is a specific food that sets off a course of overeating where control is lost and excessive amounts are consumed. The most common trigger foods are sugar/fat combinations (e.g. ice cream, cookies) and fat/salt combination (e.g. nuts, potato chips). Food triggers are fairly uncommon and should not be confused with favorite foods (foods that are highly preferred), comfort foods (foods that are linked to a sense of home and contentment) or food cravings (desire for a food that has not been consumed in a long time). With a true food trigger it is the food, not an emotion or situation, that triggers the out-of-control eating. For example, open the bag of potato chips and it will be gone, regardless of mood, time of day or place. To help manage trigger foods, it is important to identify the food and avoid it altogether, at least for a certain period of time, and then reassess periodically.

• Trigger Feelings
A trigger feeling is an emotion, good or bad, that sets off a period of overeating. Unlike food triggers, which initiate overeating of a specific food, after an emotional trigger any available food will do. To manage trigger feelings, it is important to first identify the specific emotion that initiates the overeating and then develop positive strategies to cope with that emotion without using food.

• Trigger Environments
A trigger environment is a specific situation or place that sets off a period of overeating. Common examples include walking into a movie theater, going to a buffet restaurant, attending a sporting event or visiting a relative. To manage trigger environments, it is important to identify the specific location, people or events that set off the overeating. As with trigger foods, avoidance is an effective strategy for many people. For example, if the movie theater is a trigger, then going to a play or museum may be a better option. If visiting relatives in their home sets off an eating frenzy, ask to meet in a restaurant or elsewhere. When avoidance is not an option, it is important to develop tactics that minimize the likelihood of overeating.

Bottom Line – Inevitably, eating triggers happen. When this occurs, it is important to recognize them for what they are and think about how you could avoid it from occurring in the future. Behind every behavior – even negative ones – there is a positive intention. When you use food as a bandage for an emotional wound, you're seeking out a positive feeling. That feeling might be comfort, relaxation, happiness or entertainment. But whatever it is, you're eating in the hopes of achieving a positive state of mind. Think about the negative feelings that have caused you to use food as a bandage in the past. What positive feelings were you hoping to achieve by eating? Now try to imagine reframing these positive emotions with positive activities, rather than framing them with food. For example, what could make you feel less stressed, happier, more relaxed? Maybe you could frame these emotions with a call to a friend, a long walk, a good book or a hot bath. Keeping your hands distracted is a good technique and maybe keeping your mouth happy with a piece of sugar-free gum or candy. How many non-calorie activities can you come up with to help you heal an uncomfortable emotion? Be creative! After all, a cookie lasts as long as it takes to chew it, but a healthy lifestyle lasts a lifetime!

So what is going to be your plan to take control? Are you going to go for a walk, are you going to drink water, are you going to chew gum, are you going to phone a friend? It is important that the next time you find yourself eating uncontrollably, and you realize that you shouldn’t be, there has to be that next step. Have a plan for what YOU will do the next time you find yourself there.


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