One Mom’s Journey from Fat to Skinny to Confident


Let’s Talk About Trigger Foods

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That would be a box of Wheat Thins in my garbage. I can’t have them in my house. I just can’t, and I haven’t until someone sent me a box in a care package.

The moment they arrived I wanted to open them. I imagined myself just hacking at the block of cheese I have in the fridge and topping them. Cheese — another old trigger that only resurfaces when certain crackers are around. I stopped buying cheese in block form for years, but The Toddler is such a fan, I get them for him now.

Food triggers are interesting. Sometimes I have no desire when a trigger food is around. Other times the thought of the food is like a virus in my brain.

I’ve blogged about this before, specifically about my pizza addiction. That post is almost 6 years old and I can honestly say I’m not sure if I feel the same way anymore. I’ve controlled my environment so much, I’m rarely around the traditional stuff.

For me, that’s my first line of defense, environment control. I also get creative and find lighter, healthier trigger-food replacements. I’ve come up with a cheese and cracker alternative that I absolutely love and have you seem my pizza idea page on GreenLiteBites? Any time I get a craving, I invent a new way to eat pizza without eating pizza and, honestly, it works for me. Like I said, I haven’t really had or even wanted “real” pizza in years.

I’m not quite sure what the trigger behind the trigger food is for me. I swear it’s a texture thing. It’s like I want the food in my mouth and then once I take a bite I can’t stop myself from taking another one, and another one, and another one.

I also think there are ties to my childhood there. I remember eating cheese and crackers with my dad, and pizza was the one thing I was allowed to make as an after-school snack when I was young.

I know I’m not the only one with trigger-food issues so I thought I’d open this up for discussion and make it Question of the Week.

Do you have triggers? What are they? Why? And how do you keep them in check?


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There are 24 comments so far.

    Sammy d.

    June 4, 2013

    It’s not the food it’s the mood. I have all kinds of sweets and treats in the house. Much like you, ,my husband has a sweet tooth and he can eat the stuff in moderation. i have cookies, brownies, all kinds of stuff in the house daily. And, most days it just is there,. No problem. I have learned to just buy it for him and that is that. But some days….not often, but every now and then, I have had a more stressful day or I am more tired and I must have whatever it is that is. Are they trigger foods or did something else trigger the food? I think it is the later.

    Tamara Grand

    June 4, 2013

    Yep. Chocolate. Good chocolate, crappy chocolate, even chocolate chips if I’m desperate. Can’t have it in the house!


    June 5, 2013

    yeah sammy! Pissed off that that pizza entered my house – so Im going to eat it, damn it! haha – i hate when that happens. I can be in control, feeling strong and in walks nachos, guacamole, peanut butter ice cream…did i forgot to mention enchiladas???? Spaghetti & Meatballs!!! And yes Pizza…drool!!!

    Ive been trying the waiting technique – I read an article where it says “tell yourself you can have it if you wait 20min”. The hope is that you get distracted. But it also cautions to be realistic and start small. Like in 5min increments.

    Today I wanted more food after lunch and I had bought a pack of cupcakes for my boys to eat at the park after school. They were calling to my name, literally – i swear it! ;) – Anyway, I remembered this technique but goodness! 5min was too long!!! So i said I could have some cupcakes if I waited 1 min …

    Guess what?

    I got distracted :)


      June 5, 2013

      hmm… i will be trying this! thanks!

    Marissa Wade

    June 5, 2013

    Potato chips and french fries. Once I start it’s hard to walk away. Something about the crunchiness. I find that snack foods remind me of hanging out with my family. We would stay up late and my mom and I would snack on cheetos while watching movies. If my dad was off it would be nothing for him to run out at midnight and get us all hamburgers. As a kid this was fun to me and I thought all families did this lol. But Sammy d. is right too. If I’m stressing or feeling depressed and combined with these particular food items are just a recipe for disaster. ;-)

    Karen P

    June 5, 2013

    Yes! I have trigger foods, nut butters, processed sugar, wheat, nuts, jelly beans, pizza. I keep them in check by
    1. Not consuming them (like a recovered alcoholic)

    2. Not keeping them in the house
    3. Not looking at them much while grocery shopping
    4. Not hanging out around them when others are consuming them.

    That being said- I’ve been able to be in remission from emotional/binge eating for almost 2 years. Kind of exciting since I had a 40 year problem (and weight problem). I have had a very small relapse here or there, but nothing significant.

    I can’t tell you how much relief that abstinence has brought to me. A whole new normal, new world. Being food sober is 100% worth it. I highly recommend it. If you have any specific questions, I’m happy to blog about them.


      June 5, 2013

      if you don’t mind me asking, how did you break your processed sugar addiction? did you go cold turkey, or did you tamp down your sugar intake over a period of time?

      Karen P

      June 19, 2013

      Hello Guest! Sorry it took me so long to get back to you- family emergency. Anyhoo- I went cold turkey and it took 8-10 weeks before the fog cleared and I had my light bulb moment. I was on a commercial packaged weight loss plan that did not trigger my eating. I sort of knew about the processed sugar, I realized quickly that wheat and grains were also a problem. On the suggestion in the Refuse to Regain book, I only brought in low-inflammatory foods and occasional sweeter foods- 85% chocolate or fruit for dessert. I occasionally run across foods that trigger me, and it’s easy to ID them and remove them. Think almond butter. It’s been out for sometime now. I don’t mess around with my food sobriety. I worked too hard to get here. It’s taken me 40 years. Now to live a different life for the next 40.

    Karen Cleary

    June 5, 2013

    So funny… I once answered the question on my blog “if you had to eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be”… answer: Wheat Thins! I can relate!


    June 5, 2013

    I always wondered why I couldn’t put the WT down……check out how much sugar is in them! Try not to buy them now or just put a few in a bowl.


    June 5, 2013

    ALL sweets. I can’t even do “healthy” sweets – like your ground walnuts, dried cranberries & cocoa powder. Delicious & healthy, but they were essentially a ‘cookie’ to me & it sets me off. I want another before I’ve even swallowed the first!
    The best way I’ve found to get it under control is to NOT TOUCH any dessert-like food except once every 2 weeks. I mean, if I make chocolate milk for the kids, if I pick up a drip of the syrup, I won’t even lick my finger.


    June 5, 2013

    Bread. If I eat it it just makes me want crappy carbs all day. I keep 7 grain Ezekiel bread in my freezer – toast and top with all natural pb and banana. There have been many times I have had that for dinner. It’s pretty filling and actually good for you!


    June 5, 2013

    Any kind of junk food in the house. I only eat junk food if I have to go out and get it now. That keeps me from mindlessly snacking on it. It doesn’t stop me from having an ice cream cone once in a while, but it DOES stop me from eating a whole gallon in two days. Lol!


    June 5, 2013

    I admire all you who have posted – I’m too chicken to even let my brain go to the dark corner where all the trigger foods are cataloged! (Oh yes, Wheat Thins are there!) And for me too, many of my trigger foods are all about the texture. My hat is off to all who have to live in a house where their trigger foods are present and calling their names!


    June 5, 2013

    I think a trigger food for me would be some type of dessert. I’m very picky when it comes to eating any sort of food. I’m in college and even I don’t like the quick pizzas you can order and get one in ten minutes. They don’t make my stomach feel very good after eating it, either. I’ve been able to lose 15 pounds in college, just watching what I eat very carefully and exercising like crazy for a good stress relief. I have transformed my way of thinking and reading the label of what is actually in the food you buy. I LOVE to cook and your ideas for pizzas look fantastic!
    Each time I cave in to my trigger food (which isn’t too often) I always tell myself no more sweets for the week. I load up on the vegetables and fruits throughout my day and I’m enjoying them and I’m satisfied!


    June 5, 2013

    Man, I can relate. My biggest trigger is really good bread (think nice crusty French bread) and cheese. Better yet a nice slice of swiss cheese on crusty bread. Can’t have either in the house which kind of makes me mad. I’m a grown woman and I can’t say no to bread and cheese…WTH! Pizza is ok for me however. Sweets of course are also a huge problem. Can not even keep chocolate chips in the house! Again…WTH!


    June 5, 2013

    wheat thins! me too! i can usually handle them in small portions with a side of cottage cheese or greek yogurt, but not always. they’re just so easy to eat instead of real food. my other triggers are bread, and brownies, and creamy cheesy stuff (like grilled cheese, mac n cheese, etc). for many years it was peanut butter and i didn’t even keep it in the house. but not anymore. chips are also a major trigger food for me, as is candy. with trigger foods, i limit the amount that i have in my house at any one time.

    Carrie K,

    June 5, 2013

    Pizza and Doritos. Can’t have the Doritos in the house or anywhere near me. So far, with the help of my weekly points, I can control myself with the pizza. I only order from one place (easy to track) and order the same type. No breadstix. I put two pieces on a plate and when those are gone, I wait to have another. Then wait again if I decide I want another. It’s working well for me. (Also, I limit myself to once a week and plan my day around it, too.)

    I love your analogy of having to have it in your mouth. That’s how I am with Doritos. As soon as I have one swallowed I want another, so I find myself with my hand in the bag before I’ve even finished chewing.


    June 6, 2013

    I used to drink Starbucks once a day. I was never into the frappucinos. I was into the flavored lattes (vanilla latte, pumpkin spice latte, etc). I love sweet flavors. But one day, I got some kind of latte, and all I could taste was chemicals. I didn’t think anything of it, I just thought it was that particular barista or store. I got my next latte at a different Starbucks. Same chemically taste. Same with yet another latte – different location, same chemical taste. Ever since then, I taste nothing but chemicals in the flavored lattes. I don’t know how or why that happened. I wasn’t taking any kind of medication, I wasn’t ill. I think maybe i had so many flavored lattes over the years that my tastebuds became super-sensitive or reactive somehow? Anyway, surprisingly, it was not difficult at all to give up flavored lattes after having so many taste bad, all the time. After the third “yuk” experience, I never even thought of flavored lattes again. It just goes to show that, in my humble opinion, great flavor is a major part of habit formation. I still crave sugar, I still have a sweet tooth, I still have many other trigger foods (all sugar. I don’t crave carbs or fats, just sugar). But I have no desire for this particular sugary product at all. After the third ‘yuk’ taste experience, my mind totally dropped it. No mental or physical cravings at all for the stuff. Well, that’s one temptation eliminated, only 100 more to go…:)

    Staci @

    June 6, 2013

    Hands down, pizza! One night we were on our way home and I saw a pizza billboard and that was all she wrote. I got in a FIGHT with my husband about stopping in to get me a pizza. :( A definite embarrassing fat girl moment. But it’s like the trigger food is all powerful and until that fire is quenched, I can’t be happy. But the aftermath of smoke it leaves behind is depressing.


    June 6, 2013

    Have you read The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food? Really interesting how they orchestrate those puppies so you cannot stop eating them. For me, my crack is tortilla chips… and my husband is a nacho-aholic. Tough to stay out of them!


    June 7, 2013

    Pizza. Doughnuts. Cereal. No moderation with those whatsoever. Doughnuts and cereal are “easier” because I don’t buy them. Wish I could apply that to the pizza situation. Somehow the pizza Friday tradition in our house won’t go away. But I’m going to try a few pizza alternatives and see if that will help.


    June 18, 2015

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    November 19, 2015

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