On The Table

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Trigger Foods May be More than just a Fleeting Craving

Learn more about what trigger foods are and how they can change the normal landscape of a diet.

Trigger Foods May be More than just a Fleeting Craving

Stress and food go hand-in-hand.

We’ve all turned to food for comfort. I mean, who wouldn’t want a hot and gooey chocolate chip cookie on one of their worst days?

Emotional eating is the number one reason why diets fail and trigger foods may be the culprit.

The dangers of trigger foods

After weeks of eating right and hitting the gym, you see cupcakes sitting on a shelf in the grocery store. They’re just sitting there waiting for YOU to eat them. They’re chocolate and chocolate is your favorite. So you cave, snatch them up and bring them home to indulge in the chocolaty goodness.

You don’t think anything of it at the time, but after one bad day of scarfing down cupcakes, your diet is now on the fritz. 

The link between stress and food is astounding. Stress makes us crave sweet and salty trigger foods and experts may have figured out the reason why.

What are trigger foods?

A trigger food is any type of food that, when eaten, makes you crave more of it and often leads to binge eating. In this case, the type of trigger food we’re referring to is the sugary, high-calorie junk food.

Your senses are more powerful than you think

Does your stomach talk to your brain? It might.

According to a small study, hormones in our stomachs appear to communicate directly with our brains, independent of any feelings we have about a particular type of food.

In a study, researchers took the subjective experience of choosing your own food off the table by "feeding" the volunteers through an unmarked stomach tube.

Even in this artificial environment, saturated fat appeared to fend off negative emotions. The study volunteers were more upbeat after listening to sad music and seeing sad faces if their bellies were full of saturated fat versus a simple saline solution, which suggests that emotional eating operates on a biological as well as psychological level.

According to the study, trigger foods make us happy and other foods don’t do as much

We’re usually just looking for a quick fix to solve our problems. And ironically, trigger foods are always readily available, taunting us to eat them.

Our society is way more fast-paced and intense than ever before. Whether you’re worried about unemployment, money, family issues, relationship issues, self-esteem, work, school, etc.—there’s always something to worry about and there’s always a fattening antidote around. You just can’t get away from stress and food.

But there are other reasons why our bodies may crave fattening trigger foods

One reason may be because the saturated fats in foods like pop tarts and potato chips impair your brain's normal ability to regulate appetite and cravings, so you don't realize you're full until you're completely stuffed—something that’s problematic if you’re trying to lose weight.

There also may be another reason why you can’t put down that cookie.

Sugar also has been shown to enhance memory storage, which may explain why you want it in the first place, and so much of it on special social occasions. As a result, your brain has evolved a system of rewards that gives you a real high when you eat sugar.

The battle between stress and food: the endless cycle

High calorie trigger foods may be delicious and make you feel better for a short period of time, but you can’t sustain yourself off of them alone. Stress makes you crave trigger foods and eating trigger foods makes you crave even more trigger foods, invoking the endless cycle of stress and food. They may make you feel better now, but you won’t feel so great when you need to lose weight or go see a doctor because your unhealthy diet has made you sick.

The solution: regulate your cravings and eat healthier.

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