I looked up the definition of trigger and found the verb definition, cause (an event or situation) to happen or exist. It is interesting to think of a trigger as a cause. Sometimes, I think we confuse the cause and effect, a la chicken and the egg. Are you eating because you feel sad or do you feel sad because you are shoving Oreos in your face?
As you set forth on a journey to be healthy, it is about being healthier and not about being perfect. It is about planning and setting yourself up for success and not about making the best choices as life happens to you. You can’t plan successfully if you don’t take everything into account. Take meal plans for example. When I’m going to be out of the house from 430-630 with my oldest, and the little two have gymnastics from 6-7, I better plan dinner in the crock pot that will be ready for the littles at 5 and won’t be too heavy for me to eat at 7. You can’t say you will work out before you start work at 7 AM if you are going to a friend’s birthday party until midnight the night before.
As you have probably read previously, I am a huge fan of journaling. I think that it is a great tool for identifying triggers and patterns. When you record feelings with your foods, you can start to see if you are eating because you are sad, or if you are sad because of what you are eating. Sometimes, it is the downward spiral effect. You feel sad, so you eat ice cream, which makes you crave chocolate, which makes you sad for having eaten ice cream and chocolate. If you are recording these foods and feelings, you may still go on this little slip, but you can see it and correct your choices before a slip becomes a slide.
Starting at a very young age, you were rewarded with food. Think back to potty training, did your parents give you M&Ms for trying? You celebrated with food. Remember the smash cake you had for your first birthday? Family parties were centered around food. Was your mom responsible for the perfect pie or the handed down stuffing recipe? You grieved with food. Mom took you out for ice cream the first time a boy dumped you? You were comforted with food. You filled your boredom with food. Almost every single one of us learned a disordered way to look at, and consume, food. That just means we have our work cut out to overcome our disordered eating. Reach out for help, journal, log food, find a way that works for you to establish a healthy relationship with food.
Honest to goodness, that was a sign my mom gave me to hang in my locker in high school. What kind of 15 year old puts that much pressure on her middle class life that she has stress for energy? Me, for sure, and I know I’m not the only one. Sometimes we need to limit the stress in our life. Do you need to sit down with a financial planner and figure out how to stop living paycheck to paycheck? Do you want to chat with a life coach to see about changing careers? Would a local clergyman bring some clarity to a relationship? Back to journaling, would writing down your struggles help you to move past them? Do you need to stop saying yes to everyone else, and instead say yes to yourself?
Not all stress is bad stress, maybe you are getting married, having a baby, getting a new job, buying a new house, or heck, doing all of the above. Make sure that you are working through the process of each and enjoying the process. And remember, too much stress, even good stress, can still be a negative.
Perhaps your stress is not avoidable, good or bad. You are in a situation that won’t resolve on it’s own and you cannot up and leave. Then we need to take a look at your stress coping mechanisms. Do you have a person to talk to about what is troubling you? Not someone who will let you wallow, but someone who will give unbiased advice, or just listen and let you work through where you can go from here. If work is temporarily stressful, are you taking throughout the day to walk away? Even just 5 minutes every 90 will give you clarity and increased productivity. Are you stressed about exams coming up? Make sure to still take time for self care, be it a soak in a bath tub, some meditation time, or a 5 minute brisk walk outside.
What will you do to identify your triggers when it comes to food? What is one thing you have learned about yourself, in terms of triggers, that has helped you on your journey to healthy? Please share a comment below!