The last two posts have focused on why understanding and managing your triggers aren’t crucial to changing your behaviour with food. If you missed them, you can read them here and here. Today I want to talk about why triggers do matter. I can boil it down to 2 words:
You are a person with a life, that consists of more than just food and your responses to it (though sometimes it doesn’t seem that way, does it?).
- You occupy your time with something – working, learning, volunteering, parenting etc.
- You have people in your life with whom you interact
- You have a mind that interprets
- A heart that feels
- Needs to be met
- Stuff that happens!
My guess is that you want to live an empowered life – one where you’re responding to life out of choice, rather than reacting to it in an habitual way.
You want to have relationships that nourish you.
You want to meet your needs, so you feel satisfied and at ease – so you can bring your best self to the world and the people around you.
My whole approach to becoming a peaceful eater, pivots around being connected – to your body, your emotions, thoughts and spirit: in short, to your whole internal experience.
Here’s a real live, up to the minute example. It’s 10.15 pm, and I’ve just sat down to write my blog.
I get up and walk towards the kitchen cupboard.
I take out the hot chocolate powder.
I open it, get a teaspoon and scoop some out – right into my mouth, standing up.
I was aware of what I was doing. I even ate it mindfully. However, my intention is to eat when I’m hungry, to nourish myself and to eat for pure pleasure. I knew that this eating episode didn’t fall into any of these categories (for me, dry hot chocolate powder eaten standing up doesn’t fall into the pleasure zone…).
So I stopped to explore what was behind my disconnection. What were the triggers that could point to it?
I’d had a day filled to the brim of the unexpected: my husband was suddenly ill; my daughter had a meltdown from school pressure and needed support – and the other, expected things were needed: dinner, homework support etc. I did what I thought was needed, with an open heart, and in complete choice.
When I became still enough to tune in and get curious, I noticed these thoughts: ‘I must publish my blog when it’s expected, or else I’ll be seen as a fly-by-night, unreliable, wishy-washy nobody,’ and the thought: ‘I’m tired!’
No wonder I was drawn to chocolate powder standing up, straight from the tin!
Out of those two statements, the one about my tiredness was true. With regard to the rest – I doubt anyone but me would care if my blog were not published by 6 am on Friday! And highly unlikely I’d be judged for it. Even if I were judged, other people’s judgements are their business and not necessarily true statements about me.
Did these triggers have anything to do with the chocolate powder? In some ways yes – because if I hadn’t had the day I’d had, I would have been asleep for at least an hour by now, and would not have had the need for the extra boost of energy the chocolate powder provided me. I used it to over-ride my need for rest, and to keep at bay my own self-judgement, and the risk of others’. But as I’ve said before – it’s not the trigger that needs to be dealt with to stop the unnecessary, unenjoyable eating. If I’d simply taken time to notice the urge and surf it, I’d likely not have eaten it.
Here’s the good bit.
The real value in working with the triggers is that I got to reclaim a part of myself.
I reminded myself that I don’t have to do anything to be of value in the world. I remembered that I could have chosen my self-care first, gone to bed, and written my blog in the morning, published it 2 hours later than usual, and the sky would not have fallen down.
If working with triggers means I reclaim something of myself, and recommit to my self-care, then they are absolutely important.
Because I matter. So do you.
In addition: triggers can indicate your ‘points of vulnerability’
Over time, you can notice certain patterns to your triggers – for example – you might be vulnerable to overeating when you’re tired, when you’ve been travelling, when you spend time with a specific person etc. Noticing these can serve you to prepare in advance for those situations. Here’s a blog I dedicated to that very topic.
PS. Don’t you just love the way the Universe conspires? I finished the blog last night, scheduled it for 6 am – by almost 8, I’m wondering what happened… hahaha – I’d scheduled it for 6 am tomorrow!
Need help from an expert?
If you’ve had enough of being on and off a diet, feeling ashamed of your body and how you eat, binge eating or emotional overeating — you’ve come to the right place.
I’ll help you discover how to let go of all the food rules, trust your own body and reclaim your innate worthiness — so you can live your life unapologetically and focus on what really matters to you.