It’s not always easy to change familiar eating habits. Most of us have a few foods that always seem to sabotage our diets. For me, it’s anything containing chocolate. I’ve learned from trial and error—some big errors, might I add—about how to cope with my trigger foods and prevent them from ruining my well-intentioned habits.
Years ago, I read that the best way to regain self-control with a certain food was to keep an abundance in the house. The theory claimed that if you had several packages readily available and didn’t declare any food forbidden, then you wouldn’t feel like you had to eat the entire portion in one sitting (since there would be more at your disposal to eat at any time). So I decided to give it a try.
The concept seemed to make sense, and the article touched precisely on the reason I often consumed an entire box at once. I always planned to start living healthily “tomorrow,” so I thought I had to overindulge before enforcing those limitations. To test the theory, I went out and bought three boxes of Double Stuf Oreos.
That night I enjoyed a few cookies before putting the first package back in the cupboard next to the other two. Immediately I thought, “Wow, this really works.” Yet a few minutes later, I returned to the cupboard for a couple cookies and then again for a few more. Before I knew it, I had finished the first bag and gotten into the next. I felt sick and utterly disgusted with myself. So much for their theory, I thought; it may work for some, but it definitely didn’t work for me. Over the years, I’ve tried this system several more times—each time with a different trigger food—and I always end up regretting the decision.
My philosophy on trigger foods is the following: if they’re around, you’re going to eat them. If they’re not around, you won’t. That doesn’t mean you have to give up your favorite foods altogether; it just means that you should reserve them for special occasions and purchase them in moderation. If you are participating in the Healthy You Challenge, removing your trigger foods will set you up for success.
I encourage you to acknowledge which foods you tend to overeat, and take them out of your house and office for just 14 days. You can incorporate these foods back into your diet after the two weeks, as no foods are permanently banned.
Whether you're doing the Healthy You Challenge or just want to eat a healthier diet, removing your trigger foods for just 14 days can help you learn how to enjoy your favorite foods in moderation. I encourage you to identify which foods trigger you to overeat. For example, I can keep a gallon of my favorite ice cream in the freezer for months without overindulging; I simply enjoy a scoop when I feel like it. But I can’t keep a bag of chocolate candies or chocolate chip cookies in the house without losing control. Identify your trigger foods today!
Once you’ve determined which unhealthy foods prompt you to overeat, remove them from your kitchen. You can bring them back into your house after 14 days. You’ll be amazed at how two weeks spent improving your eating habits can permanently alter the foods you crave and your ability to make better choices.