Fighting Triggers With Triggers: Tips And Tricks For Mindful Eating

If there’s one topic I return to time and time again, it’s the importance of identifying and dealing with problem foods. But how do you identify a problem food? You know the expression, “One man’s meat is another man’s poison.” Foods don’t affect two people the same way. Cookies, as an example, are thought of a problem food for dieters, particularly women. And in many instances, they are an issue and not incidentally, the number #1 problem food in my practice at the Center for Health Sciences. But what of those people who don’t have an issue with cookies? Not every dieters abuses sweets. Men, on the other hand, are more apt to overeat chips and nuts. Whatever your issue, it’s important not to look solely at a piece of food, but how much you eat of a particular food. A piece of food itself isn’t the problem; it’s the cravings that food triggers for more and more. This is the essence of smart food strategy. It’s not about calories but control. Nuts are a “healthy” food provided you stop at 5-7. But the experiences of thousands of patients have taught me that people rarely stop at 5-7 nuts. Most people eat nuts by the handfuls. This is common with bite-sized snack foods that can be quickly and mindlessly popped into your mouth.

Always ask yourself, “What is my history with a particular food?” Just as each of us has our own unique fingerprint, we all have our own unique history when it comes to food. If you think historically, and not just calorically about your struggles with weight, you will find that predictable patterns and obstacles emerge. For some it may not even be a food, but a behavior, such as stress eating that leads to trouble. Food history helps us identify the handful of foods, behaviors, situations and patterns that cause loses of control and lead to weight gain.

 

Image source: Pacificsource.files.wordpress.com

Image source: Pacificsource.files.wordpress.com

 

In the world of dieting, the word “trigger” has a negative association. But did you know there is more than one kind of trigger? Just as we experience an increase in cravings and losses of control when we return to foods we have a long history of abusing, we can also experience diet success by setting up positive triggers that program us to make choices that honor rather than violate our history.

 In today’s busy world, it’s easy to scarf down an alarming number of hidden or what I refer to as “credit card” calories before you even realize what realize what you’re doing. To that end, there are tried and true mechanisms for avoiding mindless consumption. We all know that experts advise that you don’t eat while your attention is divided between another task like driving or watching TV.

Darya Pino Rose, Ph.D. has shared simple tips and tricks for mindful eating on her popular website Summer Tomato, and expands on this concept in chapter seven of her new book Foodist with her intriguing and ingenious method of turning triggers, which we normally think of as a negative thing, into something positive. Some of her mindful eating strategies include:

Image source: Amazon.com

Image source: Amazon.com

Counting Chews

There are a lot of reasons we might eat quickly. We might be in a hurry. We might be eating something so delicious we can’t wait to get another bite. We might have waited to eat until we’re so hungry, we’re desperate to feel full. Or we might just be doing it out of habit. One of the easiest ways to cut back on overconsumption of calories is to slow down, and one of the best ways to slow down is to be conscious of your food the moment you put it in your mouth. Make it a point to chew every bite of food twenty-five times. As you count each chew, you will trigger yourself into actually paying attention to what you are eating. Not only will you savor the flavors more, you’ll give yourself a chance to actually feel full before your plate is already emptied.

Put Down Your Fork

When your fork stays poised over your plate waiting for the next bite, you’re setting yourself up for a binge moment. Be sure to put down your fork between every bite. When you find yourself reaching for it again, take a moment to make sure your mouth is empty of your last bite. Let the feeling of your hand closing around the metal trigger you into being conscious of each bite you take, so you get the value out of each one.

Image source: A healthiermichigan.org
Image source: A healthiermichigan.org

Image source: A healthiermichigan.org

Formalize Your Dining Experience

Whether you’re supping alone, dining with a friend or loved one, or eating a raucous dinner with the whole family, avoid the temptation to sit on the couch. Let the feeling of sitting at a table trigger you into being grateful for the food you’re about to consume so you can savor the experience no matter who you’re sharing it with.


Janet Evans’ Olympic Comeback Diet

Janet Evans, Olympic Swimmer

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As a competitive swimmer, Janet Evans knows a thing or two about staying in top shape. The distance freestyler won gold medals at both the 1988 and the 1992 Olympics. After the 1996 Olympics, Janet Evans decided to retire. But like many who have reached the pinnacle of their profession, Evans found it difficult to stay in retirement. After a 15-year hiatus and as she was approaching her fourth decade, Janet Evans kicked off a 10-month training spree in hopes of qualifying for the 2012 London Olympic Games. Her coach noted that despite her long break and her age, Janet Evans’ physical condition was exceptional. Although Evans ultimately failed to qualify during the Olympic trials, she didn’t use that disappointment as an excuse to sit on the couch and eat junk food. When she emerged from the pool after the qualifying heats, Janet Evans said, “I can’t wait to go take a yoga class.”*

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Nicole Barnhart’s Farmer’s Market Diet

Nicole Barnhart at the Olympics

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Nicole Barnhart began her soccer career playing for Stanford Cardinal in college, where she holds the Stanford women’s record for lowest career goals-against average (that’s a good thing, for those of you who don’t watch soccer – Nicole is a goalkeeper). She began playing with the U.S. National Team after the 2004 Olympics, and won her first Olympic gold on the 2008 team. Nicole Barnhart steps in when fellow goalkeeper, Hope Solo, is out with an injury. Because injuries are unpredictable, Nicole has to stay in peak physical condition at all times. Her discipline on the field translates well to her dieting philosophies.

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Lenny Clarke Loses the Buddha Belly

Lenny Clarke Speaking into Microphone

Image source: Bostoncommon-magazine.com

A while back we posted an article about the impact of friendship on one’s weight. When you hang around heavier friends, you tend to eat more, and vice versa. Actor and comedian Lenny Clarke is living proof of that. At his heaviest, Lenny weighed 388 lbs. “People were coming up to me and (saying) ‘you look good’ with horror in their eyes. They would rub my belly like Buddha and that was hurtful.”* Indeed, Lenny had to use a truck scale to weigh himself. He attributes his girth to not just poor diet, but also years of drinking and drug abuse. Lenny also tried yo-yo dieting, which undoubtedly messed up his metabolism. While Lenny knew he wanted to lose weight, having his belly rubbed like Buddha didn’t get him there. It took the encouragement of “Rescue Me” co-star Denis Leary. Quite bluntly, Denis Leary told Lenny that he was going to die if he didn’t change his ways.

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Ana Ortiz’s Breastfeeding Diet

Ana Ortiz Wearig Scarf

Image source: Theatermania.com

Ana Ortiz is best known for her role on the fashion-centric show, “Ugly Betty,” in which she played Betty’s sister, the extremely talkative Hilda Suarez. Ana is also an accomplished singer, but before her singing and acting careers, she wanted to become a professional ballerina. She did ballet for eight years, but switched to acting when dancing en pointe hurt her feet too badly. Fortunately, her feet injuries do not appear to have been permanent, as Ana is able to maintain an active lifestyle. She’s also (mostly) ditched her old “pizza at 2 in the morning” routine and now eats a pretty healthy diet. It enabled her to successfully lose the baby weight after having little Paloma in 2009 and Rafael in 2011.

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Niecy Nash Likes Her Jiggly Parts

Niecy Nash Blows a Kiss

Image source: Examiner.com

Carol Denise Nash, more commonly known as Niecy Nash, has enjoyed an eclectic career. She’s provided the voice of Mrs. Boots on the children’s animated series, “Slacker Cats,” acted in a Comedy Central TV series, and hosted a cleaning show on the Style Network. Her attitude toward weight loss is similarly varied. She’s been quoted in interviews as saying that she doesn’t want to lose her “jiggly parts,” and that she’d rather be known as the “thick” woman that won on “Dancing with the Stars,” rather than the celeb who danced away a ton of weight. However, Niecy Nash wasn’t shy at all about changing her eating habits for her second marriage just a year after “DWTS.” To complicate matters further, Niecy actually did eat a healthier diet while competing in the dancing show, despite claiming that she’d rather not lose any weight. Confused yet?

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Kyle Massey’s 18-Lb. Weight Loss

Kyle Massey Poses in a Vest

Image source: Blogs.orlandosentinel.com

If you’ve got tweens in the house, you might remember Kyle Massey from the Disney shows, “That’s So Raven” and “Cory in the House.” He’s also lent his voice to the animated series, “Fish Hooks,” which explores the lives of adolescent fish living in an aquarium. But if you are kid-less or they’re too old to watch that stuff anymore, you’re more likely to know Kyle Massey from “Dancing with the Stars.” He was paired up with Lacey Schwimmer in the 11th season, and completed the show as a runner-up. While on the show, Kyle Massey did what most celebs do on “DWTS.” He gained a slimmer physique and used Freshology, a diet meal delivery service that is particularly popular with the Hollywood set.

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Kevin Love’s 25-Lb. Weight Loss Diet

Kevin Love on the Court

Image source: Mensfitness.com

Professional basketball players are pretty tall and lean. Carrying around a little extra weight means you might run a little bit slower than the other guy, which might cost you a basket or two. Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love is considered to be one of the top rebounders in the NBA. However, like any great professional athlete, Love is always looking to improve his game in any way he can. During the 2011 NBA lockout, Kevin Love decided to use his spare time wisely. Love launched a fitness campaign to rebrand his image and ramp up his performance. His efforts netted him a nearly 25-lb. weight loss.

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Natalie Coughlin’s Olympic Diet

Natalie Coughlin by the Beach

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Every four years, Americans are glued to the TV set for the Summer Olympics. We love watching records get broken and athletes reaching incredible new achievements. Natalie Coughlin is no stranger to this; she’s considered one of the greatest female professional swimmers of all time. Natalie has won the World Swimmer of the Year Award once, and the American Swimmer of the Year Award three times. She’s also won twelve Olympic medals, tying her with two other women for the most Olympic medals won by an American woman. As a professional athlete, Natalie has to travel quite a bit, but she doesn’t let that wreck her diet and workout routine. She’ll try anything once (even fried sheep brains), but her diet generally emphasizes organic, whole foods.

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Abby Wambach’s Favorite Sandwich

Abby Wambach Scores a Goal

Image source: Mediagallery.usatoday.com

Mia Hamm and David Beckham are two of the most widely recognized names in professional soccer, but Abby Wambach is giving them a run for their money. Time after time, Abby has proven herself to be resilient and up for any challenge, whether it’s convincing teammate Hope Solo to do the worm as a victory dance on the field or overcoming a sucker punch and subsequent black eye from a Colombian player at the 2012 Olympics. Yes, soccer can get a bit bloody. (Wambach and her team went on to beat them, 3 – 0.) As a professional soccer player and Olympic gold medalist, Abby pays just as much attention to her diet as she does to her workout routine. She points out that feeding her body the right kind of fuel is directly proportional to her results on the field.

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