Know Your Triggers

Annette Presley
Annette Presley, your personal nutrition coach, author, and speaker helping you live your life well.

Jan 18,2018

There are three components of a habit, the thing that triggers the habit, the routine that results from the trigger, and then the reward you get from the routine. In his book, The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg describes these three stages as the habit loop. It’s like a broken record that just plays over and over and over again and again.

What triggers a habit varies from individual to individual, but if you can recognize the triggers, then you can change the outcome. The H plus five W’s can help you find your triggers.

·      How – How you eat matters. Do you eat on the run, skip meals, or feel compelled to finish everything on your plate? Look for any eating behavior that prevents you from sitting down, chewing slowly, eating mindfully, or eating according to your plan. Eating while watching TV, for example, makes it difficult to eat mindfully. Your eyes are on the screen rather than the hand that repetitively moves from the chip bag to your mouth. Skipping meals is not a bad thing in and of itself, but if it causes you to pig out on junk food mid-morning, it’s a problem. Pay attention to how you are eating.

·      What – What are the foods that, if you take one bite, you can’t stop eating? Some foods trigger continued eating, even when you aren’t hungry or when your stomach is full. We tend to crave certain tastes and textures. Do you crave creamy or crunchy foods, salty or sweet foods, or a combination? Pay attention to what you are eating.

·      When – What time of day do you tend to indulge in extra calories? Are you always looking for a treat at 2 pm? Do you eat right before bedtime? Pay attention to when you eat.

·      Where – Do you pig out at parties or potlucks, grab the cinnamon rolls at every meeting, eat in the car, or eat most meals out? Pay attention to where you are eating.

·      Who – Do you tend to overeat when you are with family, clients, friends, or co-workers? Some of you may have friends and family that make it difficult to stick to a healthy eating plan, so pay attention to who you eat with.

·      Why – Hunger should be your cue to eat and satiety should be your cue to stop eating, but many times our emotions sabotage our best laid plans. Do you tend to eat when you feel rejected, bored, or depressed? Pay attention to why you are eating.

Knowing your triggers will help you build better habits, so pay attention to what you are eating, what you are doing, how you feel, who you are with, and what time it is when you put your hand in the cookie jar. 

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