Updated: Jan 20
If you find yourself in a vicious cycle of bingeing on food and food guilt, yet the pattern seems to suck you in like a black hole every other day, perhaps you’re surrounded by triggers in your own environment, that you might have not noticed before. Until now, that is.
Emotional and psychological triggers might enter your subconscious through the day or through the week, staying dormant and unnoticed, until it all blows up into a binge that may seem to come from nowhere.
And this is exactly where you may need to do some detective work or even keep a journal of your daily habits, actions and track them back to any changes in eating habits or bingeing behaviours. Trust me, you might be surprised how some of them have gone past unnoticed for so long.
These triggers might not be exactly what you think and be completely unrelated to food. And although only you know exactly what triggers you most, all these 5 main triggers are a pretty good place to start.
It may your friend’s new bikini, new relationship status or photos of your schoolmate’s picture- perfect family Instagram. Whatever it is, look for subtle signs of frustration and disappointment as you scroll through your feed.
Focus on acknowledging those frustrations there and then, rather then ignore them and let them simmer for the day.
Watch out for unhelpful comparisons to strangers all across the world. Do you compare your body to theirs, their celebrity careers to your day job? Always remember that we’re all on our own different journeys and it’s like comparing apples and oranges. We’re just all different, not ‘good’ or ‘bad’. ‘Pretty’ or ‘ugly’. Just different and unique.
Clear out your social media Marie Kondo style- if it’s not giving you joy, simply unfollow.
Say goodbye to your skinny clothes
Hands up if you’re keeping your ‘skinny clothes’ for when you lose weight or go back to how you looked when you were a teenager. Certainly not saying that those times are out of reach, however ruminating on the past and having a tangible ‘proof’ that times have changed may do you no favours whatsoever.
Of course times have changed. I believe you should be worried if they haven’t. But instead of thinking of the size of your body, think of how much you’ve grown, learnt and improved since then.
Donate your old clothes to charity, family or friends. Why would you want to wear the clothes of the distant past, anyway?
Weighing scales and measuring tapes
If I was to do a numbered list of the most common triggers, weighing scales and measuring tapes would no doubt
be right at the top. Observe your thoughts and feelings (if you can keep up with them) before and after you stand on the scale. Can you notice the mean girl that appears in your head every single time after?
It’s a lose-lose situation: if you’re not happy with the result, you will just beat yourself up more, put more pressure until you break and eventually binge. If you are happy with the result, chances are the inner saboteur will come out anyway or put even more pressure to ‘maintain the result’. It’s just the way the mind works and you cannot win against the scale.
Saying goodbye to the scale and measuring tapes might be really challenging, but trust me, after only a month or so you’ll hi-five yourself for getting rid of a HUGE trigger that keeps you caught up in the binge cycle.
Toxic people and relationships
Do you notice you feel uneasy all day after speaking to your sister? Or perhaps conversations with this one friend always drive you into an emotional overwhelm? Or maybe you wished you could be stricter with your boundaries around colleagues?
Looking after your energy around people can be as important as any other trigger and it’s crucial to limit time with people that are draining your resources. Maybe it’s just cutting a phone call short or changing the topic.
If it’s just not possible to limit your time with this person (you can’t always cut out your own mother from your life), make sure you have a great self-care routine in place before and after you interact, so that you are your best resilient self.
Photos of yourself
This doesn’t mean that you have to avoid all photos of yourself, forever. But deep down you might know a particular time in life that triggers you. It might be now, it might be your teenage years. But if you’re aware and consciously keep those photos around or keep coming back and looking through albums consistently, just to prove to yourself that you’ve ‘let yourself down’ or you’re not where you want to be, don’t be surprised if binges take over one too many times.
Consider this thoughtful self- care. If it’s something that triggers you every time you see it, (even if these are photos packed with dear memories) just remove them from your life for now. You might want to just keep the photos out of site and avoid spending hours going through photo albums.