Junk Food Triggers: How to Wipe These Bad Boys Out for Good!

Eating Triggers 2

FACT: Consuming too many calories will result in weight gain. Simply put, it is “calories in vs calories out.” If you consume more calories than you burn in a day, your body stores those excess calories as body fat (or muscle, with the proper nutrition and weight training plan). While this is the truth, there are just a couple of exceptions — and these exceptions can be incredibly frustrating!! Regardless of how meticulously follow your nutrition program, certain medications and/or some health conditions can, in fact, cause you to gain weight.

So then begs the question, “Well…what if the foods I’m eating  are super healthy?? Like chicken, rice, fruits, or veggies?”

My friends, it’s important to know this other truth: Eating too much of any food— including super healthy options—causes weight gain too! A calorie is a calorie is a calorie, and our bodies really don’t make any distinctions about where those calories came from if they’re “extra” calories over and above what our bodies need (ie. Our RMR + additional calories burned during the day = what we need to maintain weight). And while it would be amazing if our bodies knew, “That’s a healthy calorie, so even though it is extra, I’m not going to store it as fat,” that’s just not gonna’ happen. 😉

So…what things can trigger us to eat more calories than we need to? I’ve got three of the biggies to share with you, and I hope they will help you better understand what your eating triggers are so you can be aware of them and make a plan for how to deal with them instead of resulting to food. Like I say—A LOT, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” And this definitely applies to eating triggers.

See if any of these sound familiar:

People Triggers: These have less to do with others and more to do with ourselves.

  • The need to feel loved
  • The need to feel trusted
  • The need to feel valued
  • The need to feel desired
  • The need to be respected
  • The need to be right
  • The need to be understood
  • The need for freedom
  • The need to be in control

Food Triggers: I’m going to get a bit science-y here because these triggers are becoming one of the biggest addictions throughout the world. As humans, we are programmed from day 1 for food to be soothing and comforting for us. Food releases the feel-good endorphins (mostly dopamine) in our brains. This neurotransmitter helps to calm and relax us when we experience feelings of anger, sadness, anxiety, loneliness, or others. It will even magnify feelings of happiness. Considering these “comfort” foods cause this physiological reaction, and make us feel so good, food has become an emotional “painkiller” for many people. Mind-blowing, but true, these foods can have an effect on the brain similar to what happens with drugs. It doesn’t help that we are also bombarded by junk food advertisements on TV, online, in newspapers, magazines—everywhere! And even this picture here…sorry…eek (but it looked so good!).

Triggers 1

Event Triggers: These triggers live up to their name—they’re caused by situations and events we encounter throughout our day. Things like restaurants, social gatherings, parties, family get togethers, time with friends, holidays, the drive to and from work, boredom, stress, finishing a tough workout, and even finally getting the kiddos to bed (my trigger) can all tempt us to eat off-plan.

So, what can you do to combat these eating triggers? Here is a list of our proven tactics (and don’t forget to click on the links for even more tips!):

  • Keep your “WHY”—the reason you’ve chosen to lead a healthy life—front and center at ALL times. Post it anywhere and everywhere—make it your screensaver on all of your devices!
  • Plan ahead so you’ll know how to handle these triggers before they start.
  • Keep those promises to yourself.
  • Practice managing your stress better. I know…this is a lifelong pursuit!
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Drink up! Water, that is. 😉
  • Exercise. Even a few minutes of movement can make a huge difference!
  • Prepare for and make better choices at all those food-filled events.
  • Eat breakfast within 30 minutes of waking and every 3 hours (for a total of 5 meals a day) like we do in carb cycling.
  • Have healthy options available at all times, especially when you’ll be away from home.
  • Where possible, avoid anything and any situation that is an eating trigger for you.

With so many different types of eating triggers in our lives, we definitely need to think outside of the box for ways to conquer them. While it might take some trial and error, once you figure out what works best for you, these triggers won’t be able to trip you up on the path towards achieving your transformation goals. They’ve got nothing on you!!!

For even more tips and tricks on handling eating triggers—and many, many other transformation-related topics—check out our new book, Extreme Transformation!

extreme-transform-cover

Xoxo,

Heidi

Related reading:

Emotional Eating: How to Take Control Once and for All
What’s Your Excuse?
How to Begin Your Transformation Journey—Step by Step
Commercial Break Workout: Total Body Blaster
Reignite Your Fire to Achieve Your Goals!
The Extreme Cycle | Meal Planning Tips


32 Comments

  1. Jacquelyn Duke - October 28, 2016

    I love this!! I love my junk food. Carbs in particular, but my junk food doesn’t love me and likes to stick around, boo! Ready to get control of my eating and get my sexy body back! 😉 Thanks for all y’all do, yall are so inspirational!

  2. Dee Knell - October 28, 2016

    Yes!! I have been reading through your blog today because of your give away but my goodness I needed this. Triggers are so real. I always thought it was a crazy thing when I would get sad from “feeling fat” and want to eat! I love seeing that it is a trigger. Thank you so much for a great article. You are definitely an inspiration to myself and many others!!

  3. Deb aka 'dimples' - May 31, 2016

    I have a little dilemma. I am getting ready to start the carb cycling but at this time the only exercise I think I can do is in the pool. After a bout of UTI/e coli turned into sepsis and pneumonia I am having a lot of trouble with my Achilles tendon (caused by antibiotics). I see a specialist next week but right now I can barely walk. Can you recommend any exercises that don’t require walking or even being on my foot? Thanks in advance for any advise you may have. I did water therapy for my back so I will probably do that plus laps.

    • Team Powell - June 1, 2016

      Hi Deb: Swimming is awesome, and it’s a great option when you’re recovering from an injury. You should be able to do any upper body workouts, and I’d show the 9-Minute Missions program to your healthcare team and have them help you make any modifications while you’re healing. And remember, a huge part of weight loss is the nutrition side of things, so stick to your eating program, move as you can as directed by your healthcare team, and you can achieve your goals!

  4. Latoya - May 26, 2016

    Hi heidi. Im a wife and mother of5 children i have always had problems with my weight im am now probably a little over 400 lbs my husband just got sick this past January and was hospitalized for three months he had pancreatitis and other health problems i don’t mind working out but i need to know how to eat right i have 2 daughters who are also over weight one is 16 and 240lbs and the other is about to be 9 and she’s 93lbs please help me understand what to do my husband got pancreatitis from unhealthy eating and now he is home but his gallbladder is infected thank you

    • Team Powell - May 27, 2016

      Hi Latoya: You can begin your transformation journey today with the tools in this post: http://heidipowell.net/9060. This post outlines Chris and Heidi’s carb cycling program, and it’s the same program they use on the show. You can do this! 🙂

  5. amanda - May 26, 2016

    I started watching Chris on his extreme weight loss show on tlc. That’s how I actually met you and chris through TV. I’m naturally a thin person but found it was harder to get back to thin after each c-section (3rd 7 months ago). I met a jazzersice instructor who has helped me realize my goal of not just being thin but in shape and muscular too. Watching you and Chris has been such an inspiration and would truly be a dream to get a one hour session with you both! What you do for people is so amazing. To help people through such a struggle physically and mentally is so wonderful to see. My trigger is not food but beverage. I like to indulge in a couple glasses of good red wine after my children are in bed. It’s my relaxation when things become quiet. My eating is clean, I work hard at the 80/20 ratio but I can’t seem to cut my nasty habit. Do you have any tips for me?

    • Team Powell - May 27, 2016

      Hi Amanda: A huge part of dealing with food triggers is to realize you have them, so you’re doing awesome there! I’d think of something you can do to replace that wine that doesn’t involve calories but will still offer the same relaxation for you. Here’s a post that might help too: http://heidipowell.net/8679. 🙂

  6. Marta - May 25, 2016

    Hi Heidi,
    I would like to know your opinion on canned vitamin drinks and musli bars – are they healthy?
    Also: Is a yogurt and a banana (together) counts as a meal or as a snack? I eat 4-5 meals a day and I count it as a meal..
    Xoxo
    Marta

    • Team Powell - May 26, 2016

      Hi Marta: There’s an awesome graphic in this post that shows you how to put your meals together in carb cycling: http://heidipowell.net/4514. And we recommend nonfat plain Greek yogurt, which counts as a protein. For canned vitamin drinks, each can be different, so there’s not a one-size-fits-all answer to this question, but it is best to get your nutrition from whole foods when possible. Muesli bars can be good options, but as to how they fit into carb cycling depends on the bar you choose. Hope that helps!

  7. Sarah C. - May 24, 2016

    A cry for help.

    Over the last three years I’ve lost 100 pounds. For two of the 3 years I kept it off. Unfortunately the last 6 months I’ve watched that scale creep back up, this is a result of me working from home and not moving much. In addition I had an injury that kept me down for the count for 3 months.

    Last summer I was super into learning about weight training and making it my main focus. I threw out my scale batteries and watched my inches fly off. I dropped two clothing sizes and has tons of energy. I didn’t count calories and I ate too feed my muscles.

    My problem is that I know how to eat healthy, I know how my body responds to exercise, and that I am not dieting it’s a lifestyle choice. But I’m just not feeling it. I don’t WANT to exercise or eat healthy. So I’m stuck in a vicious cycle of gaining, watching the scale go up, my clothes not fitting, all of that makes me say screw it I’m not exercising, I’m tired, and I’ll eat what I want. I just can’t seem to break this cycle, and it’s frustrating because I have done it before!

    I’m 33, and I will be 34 this summer. I am a single parent of two kids, I work full time and go to school full time.

    I want to be fit, healthy and strong. I want crazy energy. But right now I feel like eating my fourth homemade cookie of the day and I want a ginormous glass of whole milk to go with it.

    Do you have any advice for people like me who just need to get motivated again?

    • Team Powell - May 25, 2016

      Hi Sarah: Thank you for your comment! Here’s a post about Chris and Heidi’s #1 transformation tool, and I really think it could help you get and stay motivated to achieve your transformation goals: http://heidipowell.net/8679. You can do this!

  8. Clia - May 24, 2016

    Lots of great info…… I always like to watch ya’lls show. Have you had anyone with reactive hypoglycemia(due to the gastric bypass) follow the carb cycling? If so, how did they do? Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

    • Team Powell - May 25, 2016

      Hi Clia: I don’t have an answer to your question, but I’d discuss Chris and Heidi’s program with your healthcare team and then follow any modifications they might recommend. We wish you the best!

  9. Tabatha Thomas - May 24, 2016

    Hi my name is Tabatha I’m 33 years old have three kids an I’m 5’8 an weight 300 pounds I really need to lose weight an workout but with this nerve problem on one side ibdont know where to start I just need help I’m depressed yes stressed yes I want to be able to play with my kids but this one side of my body stops alot the pain

    • Team Powell - May 25, 2016

      Hi Tabatha: Here’s a post that outlines Chris and Heidi’s carb cycling program: http://heidipowell.net/9060, and be sure and follow all the links within the post too. With your nerve problem, I’d discuss their program with your healthcare team first and then follow any modifications they might recommend. You can do this!

  10. Vicki Rolston - May 24, 2016

    I really loved a post of Heidi’s regarding the 90/10 way of eating …90% good healthy food…10% eat what you fancy
    3 out of 4 weeks of the month I can stick to this. I work out a minimum 5 days a week with a good mix of training and I enjoy cooking healthy food
    However for at least 4 days of the month I have no off switch I can open my cupboard and consume all things edible….it’s purely a hormonal thing and just like controlling your emotions during a period of PMS you can’t stop yourself.
    Any advice to control this trigger???

  11. Lorraine - May 23, 2016

    Hi, love the show and could really use you guys. I’ve been trying to lose and get healthy but it is slow. 9 lbs since January. Not going to say lost because I have no intention of finding them. I do read your pages. Think we all need the encouragement. Keep up your good work.

    • Team Powell - May 23, 2016

      Hi Lorraine: Congratulations on losing 9 pounds – that’s awesome! You can learn about Chris and Heidi’s carb cycling program – the same program they use on EWL – in this post: http://heidipowell.net/9060. And be sure and follow all the links within the post too. You can do this!

  12. Carol - May 21, 2016

    I with the show would show more of the participants meal plan and not just the workouts i think alot of overweight people know that working out hard works but what to eat and how much is the problem! Yes they show a tiny segment of a meal but thats it wish they could focus more on the diet too

  13. Jill Jones - May 20, 2016

    Hi Heidi. I wanted to contact you and Chris because I am really struggling. I am a 55 year old mom and wife. Have a great life, love my husband to pieces, am so blessed…but I simply cannot lose weight.
    Now I know you guys help people who are probably 200 lbs or more overweight…so I am not sure if you will even bother to read any further as I am just 60 lbs overweight. That doesn’t sound like much, but I have dragged this weight around for years. After 2 c-sections, and now a low thyroid condition, I am tired of the frustration! I eat healthy, but will admit…I cannot stay motivated to exercise and I just don’t know why. I want to lose this weight, I want to be healthy, I can stay away from gluten and sugar with no problem…but still, cannot get with a regular, consistent exercise program. And it seems even when I have exercised, the scale will not budge. I am so, so tired of this burden.
    60 lbs may not seem like such a wall to some. It is one I cannot get over. It stays with me night and day and totally affects who I am and how I value myself. I know we are more than what’s on the outside, I truly believe that. But I also believe that our health is one of the greatest gifts we have, and this 60 lbs is wrecking not just my emotional state, but also my health. I am now struggling with severe inflamation levels and insomnia, and I believe my weight has everything to do with it. I know what inflamation does in the body; it’s a marker for many diseases, including heart disease and cancer. I am very concerned.
    And so, this 60 lbs is so much more to me than just a 3, 6, 9, or even 12 month goal…it is my life. I need help. I don’t know where to turn. And so I sit here at 3:24 in the morning (after watching another Extreme Weight Loss episode) reaching out to you and hoping you will have time to read this and give me some hope. I know the show is for people who are at the point of obesity, but I wish there was help for those of us BEFORE reaching that point…it’s no wonder so many end up in extreme weight situations. My situation is a nightmare for me emotionally, probably as much as if I weighed 500 lbs – I know I’m not as physically affected, but the emotional burden this has on me is very heavy.
    I appreciate your time and any advice you may offer.
    Blessings to you both for the wonderful work you do!
    Jill

    • Team Powell - May 20, 2016

      Hi Jill: Thank you for your comment and for sharing your story with us. Chris and Heidi would love to help you personally, but unfortunately, they are not taking on new clients at this time. But you can begin your own transformation journey today with the tools they have provided for all of us to use to achieve our transformation goals in this post: http://heidipowell.net/9060. And be sure and follow all the links within this post too. This post outlines their carb cycling program, which is the same program they use on the show. As with any nutrition and exercise program, please discuss this program with your healthcare team first and then follow any modifications they might recommend. You can do this!

  14. Tom Esquivel - May 19, 2016

    Just saw the episode with Bob from Wauseka. By watching this episode I’ve made a decision to put down the junk food and lose weight and keep it off not for only myself but for my family. Thanks Chris for your show its very inspiring. May God continue to bless you and your family.

  15. Ruth - May 19, 2016

    Please help me I want to live a healthy life.

    • Team Powell - May 20, 2016

      Hi Ruth: Chris and Heidi would love to help you personally, but unfortunately, they are not taking on new clients at this time. But you can begin your own transformation journey today with the tools in this post: http://heidipowell.net/9060. And be sure and follow all the links within this post too. This post outlines their carb cycling program, which is the same program they use on the show, and it works! You can do this!

  16. Destiny - May 19, 2016

    I need some advice if your giving it! I have an almost 2 month old, how do I lose my baby weight? I’m also breast feeding.

  17. Gillian - May 19, 2016

    I try this and no matter what I do I can never lose weight. My sister played beach volleyball in college and she and I would work out and eat the same and she would lose and I would gain. Even going to the gym I lost pounds but my BMI went up. I’m not sure how…I’m a 19 year old mother and wife now and at 9 months pregnant I was 310. I’m pushing 300 at 19…I’m not sure what to do. I tried applying for the show but the link won’t work.

    • Team Powell - May 20, 2016

      Hi Gillian: Thank you for your comment and for sharing your story with us. Casting for “Extreme Weight Loss” is currently closed, and Chris and Heidi would love to help you personally, but unfortunately, they are not taking on new clients at this time. But you can begin your own transformation journey today with the tools they have provided for all of us to use to achieve our transformation goals in this post: http://heidipowell.net/9060. And be sure and follow all the links within this post too. This post outlines their carb cycling program, which is the same program they use on the show. You both can do this!

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