Weighty Matters

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Trigger Foods

on September 10, 2012

You readers of a certain age, did you think I meant Trigger food as in oats and hay?  🙂

Neigh, my friends.  I mean foods that trigger me to eat compulsively or binge.   In the past, which I could refer to as B.B., or Before Bariatric surgery, and the years when I was in the grip of the worst of my compulsive eating, almost any food could trigger me to eat and eat and eat.  On the short list of non-triggers foods were mushrooms, any form of seafood, raw tomatoes unless in salsa, and liver.    Foods that I don’t like do not spur me to eat more of them.  Imagine that!

Foods I like?  Forget it.   One bite is both too many and never enough.   Pizza was always a big binge food.  I could tell myself six ways upside down that I would limit myself to two slices, but if I was alone in the house with a pie, I would pick and pick and pick at it alll night long.  Four or five slices would make me miserably uncomfortable but that wouldn’t stop me as I washed down still more with gulps of soda.  A few hours later, after the quantities shifted around and digested a bit, I could follow it all with a pint of ice cream.

Other binge foods — really good bread.  Pie.  Yorkshire pudding.  A certain kind of chocolate cake.  Fried chicken, even if it’s really the cripsy, greasy skin that is most tasty.

Disgusting.  It’s not like these foods made me feel good.  After the first portion, I don’t think I ever actually tasted the rest of any of them.  Here’s why I think they’re called trigger foods.  Once you pull the trigger on a gun, you can’t stop the bullet – at least not until it slams into something and its power is completely absorbed.  Unfortunately, in the years B.B., my stomach wasn’t big enough to stop the binge once it fired off.

Things are different now.  I would physically get sick before I could binge that much on pizza.  I can eat one small slice and that’s all.  Anything more would overload my capacity.   I managed to limit myself to one small piece when I was out at a function this weekend. However, I still don’t trust myself around pizza, at least not enough to risk ordering even a small pie into the house if I’m alone.   I am very much afraid that compulsion would overtake me and I would pick-pick-pick at the cheese and toppings until I’d overeaten to the point of illness.

I can practically hear some of you thinking, “Oh come on, Mary.  You’re doing so great.  You’d never succumb to a trigger food!”

Thanks for the votes of confidence, but I could, I would, I did.   For the life of me, I don’t know how I rationalized a food decision yesterday, but here’s what happened.  I was on my way home from the morning function at work when I passed a bakery advertising Fresh Bread Baked Daily.  Earlier in the morning, I’d put two containers of soup out to defrost.  In the few seconds that it took to drive by that sign, my lightning-fast thoughts told me, “Asmallsliceofbreadwithhothealthysoupwon’thurt.Thisisn’tgoingtobeaproblem.Freshbakedbreadwouldbesoawesome.Goforit.”

Yeah, before I got a block beyond the storefront, I’d whipped my car around and pulled into the parking lot.  Where were the lightning-fast thoughts I needed to talk me out of this poor choice?  Smothered under a pillow, held in place by the compulsion.   I ate the first small bit when I got back into the car.  I tore off another corner when I got home.  I sure didn’t eat big chunks at a time, but over time, the series of small bits added up to one uncomfortably overfull stomach pouch.

The discomfort in my stomach didn’t come close to the dis-ease in my head.  I thought about it a lot and finally agreed with what I already knew.  A trigger food is a trigger food is a trigger food and no 30% stomach pouch in the world will combat it on its own.  I’ve said along that the surgery is only a tool.  The real work is in the head and I still have a lot of work to do.

So, this was an excellent lesson.  I need to continue to be vigilant and set myself up for success, not failure.  Just like I know better than to order a pizza when I’m alone, I now know that fresh baked bread is not something I can safely keep in the house.  I’m okay when I’m with other people.  I can and have eaten a single small piece of good bread when out socially, but that’s it.  I’m adopting that same approach to my other known trigger foods.  Keeping them out of the house puts up a good layer of defense between me and the compulsive drive.

I’m going to spend time this week remembering other trigger foods.  Reacquainting myself with these items will shore up my defenses against the impulse to buy and eat them when I’m tempted.

My stomach’s felt rough and achy since the drawn out binge-y episode yesterday. I’m going to baby it for a few days. Protein shake in the morning, yogurt at lunch, soup for dinner — without bread.

By the way, when I woke up this morning, I looked at what remained and made a strong move to protect myself.  I picked it up, marched outside and threw it in the trash at the curb.  Can’t trigger a binge without ammunition.  In this case, none was better than half a loaf.


6 responses to “Trigger Foods

  1. First a giggle – I thought your title was Tigger foods and I instantly saw Tigger bouncing through the Hundred Acre woods with Pooh and a jar of honey.
    Second – you are doing so incredibly well over all. An occasional backwards step is to be expected and you are handling the backwards steps really well also. Instead of seeing them as a failure and an indictment of yourself, you are seeing them for the lessons they teach. It’s a mentally healthy way of looking at it as well as a far more useful way.

  2. Mary says:

    When I’m vulnerable, I cannot even think about certain foods, because it will start a craving. There are days when I cannot watch cooking shows. What I don’t understand is what moves me from a strong, resisting state to a vulnerable one.


    • Mary Stella says:

      When food is more than food, sometimes that’s all it takes to shift around our emotions. Often I can point to an incident or memory; sometimes I’m just overly tired. However, there are times when I can’t identify a reason and just have to ride it out. Hugs!

  3. Skye says:

    Hard to imagine that something could still have that fish-hook-in-the-mouth effect that the simple idea of this fresh baked bread had, given all you’ve gone through to get where you are. Yet, there it is. Triggers, hooks, they remain. I imagine that you will find others, but now you’ve seen what happened with this one, I’ll bet that anything else that tries to bypass your thought processes like this one did will trigger another response, a self-correcting, self-protecting one.

    I’m trying to be better by keeping sweets out of the house (which I can do about 50% of the time, but I get better each time I think). The trigger there is if I say “yes” to one sweet while I’m at the grocery store, instantly it invites friends and I can’t seem to say “no” to them. The only thing that doesn’t trigger binge-y behavior in sweets are bars of really dark chocolate. And it takes very little of that to satisfy me.

    • Mary Stella says:

      Well, I’m hopeful that each realization and incident makes me more aware of them in the future. Good for you for keeping sweets out of the house and not having a sugar party. I don’t have much trouble not binging on really dark chocolate either — probably because I don’t like it. LOL I’m good up to 60% cacao. Higher percentages don’t entice me. Figures. The higher the cacao count, the darker the chocolate, the better for us. My taste buds are so contrary.

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