Tortilla Ships, Cookies and Cream Ice Cream, Pretzel Sticks, Peanut Butter, Cupcakes...
What do these all have in common? Not only may they be making your mouth water while reading this, but I guarantee you have at least one if not more of these in your own kitchen cabinets.
Perhaps one (or more) of them is even your 'weakness'... You do everything in your power to control yourself from devouring an entire tub or carton or box. But you can never seem to stop yourself. These are what we call "trigger foods".
WELCOME TO "TRIGGER FOODS":
Before I learned how to portion control, I practiced a little thing called restrictive eating. I couldn't control myself around a jar of peanut butter so I just wouldn't eat it at all and I would tell myself I couldn't have it. Sound familiar?
This is actually just about the worst thing you can do to yourself. By restricting yourself from these foods completely, you are essentially screwing yourself over.
I'll walk you through an example:
You tell yourself, "I can't have those potato chips because I'm on a diet."
Day 1, no potato chips.
Day 3, no potato chips.
Day 7, no potato chips.
Day 8, goes to eat a few potato chips and soon consumes entire bag.
Frustrated with yourself, you get mad and punish yourself with negative thoughts as too why you keep failing.
Rinse & Repeat.
You see, by restricting yourself from foods you actually enjoy it makes them even more tempting. Instead, it's important for your sanity to learn portion control and allow yourself these treats here and there, especially while you are dieting. The fact of the matter is that will power is complete bologna.
Will power will fail you. It is fleeting, like motivation. It takes the brain way too much energy to constantly try to stay away from something. It's almost like purposefully avoiding an ex. Exhausting, right? Eventually, you will give in and give in BIG time.
HANDLING TRIGGER FOODS:
Learn portion control. Learn to allow yourself little bits of what it is you enjoy and really enjoy it! This way you won't feel restricted or tempted. When you can fit the foods you enjoy in your diet, it almost doesn't really feel like a diet. Yeah, you may have to eat slightly less of it than you may want, but at least it's better than the alternative 'off-limits' approach which doesn't seem to work ever anyway.
Here are 4 smart strategies you can employ today!
#1. Limit trigger foods in your house - if you know you can't have that pint of Ben and Jerry's in your freezer and control your portion, then simply don't buy it. Out of sight, out of mind.
#2. If you have kids and limiting these foods is NOT an option, try buying some healthier or lower calorie alternatives for yourself for when the cravings hit. The Halo Top ice cream may not be as good as the Ben and Jerry's pint (duh) but it is a solid alternative that will save you tons of calories and crush the cravings.
#3. Weigh out portion sizes as labeled. Get an idea for what a serving of those Tostitos scoops REALLY looks like.
#4. Eat mindfully. Once you've portioned out what you can fit into your macros, really eat it mindfully. Sit down, eat slowly, and savor the taste!
Keeping your diet fun is so important for long-term success. I try to stick to the 80/20 rule - 80% of my diet comes from whole, nutrition foods to fuel my body and 20% comes from more fun foods to keep my mental sanity and keep me on track for my goals.
Give these a try and remember to look at it as "what I CAN have" as opposed to "what I CAN'T have".