Trigger foods are foods which push you to eat more than you normally would. Have you ever eaten just one chip and then put the bag down? If you don’t seem to have any self-control around certain foods, it’s not entirely your fault. These foods play on your hormones and disrupt your hunger responses, making it more likely that you will binge on them. The best way to stay on the healthy track is to avoid these foods completely. If any of these foods are still lurking in your pantry, it’s time to get rid of them.
1. Salty-Fatty-Sugary Combos
The combination of salt, fat and sugar is the ultimate destroyer of will power. Have you ever found it impossible to resist a big, juicy hamburger? If you’ve always caved to foods like this, your evolutionary responses might be to blame. Back in the day, man had to forage for food. When he came across high-calorie, fatty food, he gorged on it because food like this was rare. He needed high-calorie food as sustenance because he might have just died from starvation without it. Times have changed and access to food has become easy, but these evolutionary traits are difficult to shake off. When we come across combinations of sugar, fat and salt, we still find it almost impossible to resist. The best way to avoid this, is to to stay away from these foods completely. Don’t tell yourself you’ll have just one bite of a hamburger, because you’ll probably end up eating a lot more.
2. Artificial Sweeteners
You might think you’re saving calories by using artificial sweeteners, but proceed with caution. Our digestion is a complex biochemical reaction between the foods we eat and the hormones they trigger. When we eat sugary foods, our tongue transmits a message to our brain, which then makes the pancreas produce more insulin to regulate it. When we use artificial sweeteners, the same reaction takes place because our tongue detects sweetness. However, when insulin is released into our bloodstream but there’s no actual sugar present, our hormonal balance gets disrupted. The excess insulin can cause our blood sugar to drop, making us more hungry and likely to binge eat.
3. Natural Sweeteners
Natural sweeteners like stevia might sound safer than artificial sweeteners, but they usually have the same effect. They fool our body into thinking there’s sugar present and triggers a release of excess insulin. It is worth remembering however, that not all people experience this. Some people can use natural sweeteners and not experience any drop in blood sugar levels. The best way to understand how your body reacts to natural sweeteners is to closely observe how you feel after using them. If you aren’t hungry soon after, then they’re probably not a trigger food for you.
4. Nuts And Nut Butters
Nuts and nut butters are often touted as healthy protein and fat alternatives, but this is not always true. How healthy nuts are, depends entirely on how efficient your digestion is. Many people can’t digest nuts completely, which means most of the nutrients and fat in them passes through their body unabsorbed. If the fat in nuts isn’t properly broken down, it can lead to fat accumulation. Again, this entirely depends on each person’s digestion. If you don’t notice any weight gain after eating nuts, you don’t have to worry about them.
5. Foods Containing Dairy And Gluten
Most of us are so conditioned to eating dairy and gluten, that we don’t question our body’s response to it. Almost a third of the population today is lactose intolerant, which means their body can’t break down proteins present in milk. Gluten intolerance is slowly being recognized too and many more people are gluten intolerant than was previously thought. Sensitivity to lactose and gluten can impact the metabolic system and slow it down. If you notice bloating, cramping or other symptoms of indigestion after eating these foods, try to avoid them as much as you can.
6. Limiting Your Food Options
Research suggests that if your meals are highly repetitive, you’re more likely to experience strong food cravings. This might be because you’re unknowingly missing out on certain food groups and your body is desperate for them. Even if you eat a balanced diet but with no variation, you might still have cravings. This is because humans like variety, they aren’t conditioned to eating the same foods every day. Stick to a healthy diet, but try to rotate your meals frequently.
7. Having Too Many Food Options
On the other end of the spectrum, having too much variety in a meal could also make you eat more. If you have a lot of distinct flavor-profiles, your taste buds get excited and want to experience more. This compels you to keep eating even when you aren’t hungry anymore. You need to find a balance between eating too much variety and too little. Stick to simple, nutritious meals, but don’t eat the same thing every single day.