We’ve all been there: The mere sight of your local coffeeshop makes you crave a caramel latte. Ditto that chocolate-glazed treat when driving by the donut shop at the end of the work day. These and dozens of other sights, sounds and smells in the world around us are our food triggers, says Susan Peirce Thompson, Ph.D., author of the recently released book Bright Line Eating, The Science of Living Happy, Thin and Free (Hay House).
Food triggers cue us to eat, whether we’re hungry or not. And they are one of our waistline’s biggest enemies.
“We are fighting off food triggers all day long,” says Susan, who is an adjunct associate professor of brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester and an expert in the psychology of eating. “Our culture promotes eating at any time of the day, in any imaginable location. Long gone are mealtimes at the family table, which means that nearly every situation has become a cue to eat.”
She continues, “Mindlessly putting food in our mouth as a knee-jerk reaction to triggers not only leads to overeating and weight gain, but actually rewires the brain to create constant cravings. In a vicious cycle, the more we give in to food triggers, the more we have them.”
“But breaking the cycle is relatively easy once you’re aware of it—and spring cleaning your eating habits to ditch food triggers may be just what you need to slim down for the season ahead. ”
Read on for some of Susan’s tips to break the cycle of food triggers:
Eat Regular Meals
A steady schedule of three meals a day at regular mealtimes—breakfast, lunch and dinner—trains the brain to eat the right things at the right times and to pass up the wrong things in between.
Establish Food-Free Zones
Draw up a list of places you tend to eat beyond the table—your car, the couch, your office desk—and designate them food-free zones. Then stick to it.
Practice an Attitude of Gratitude
Research shows that something as simple as expressing gratitude will replenish willpower. Gratitude also helps shift the focus from what you want, or crave, to what you have—making it easier for you to drive right by that donut shop as you count your blessings.
By following these tips and others in Susan’s book, which is available for purchase online, gradually you’ll take back control, clean away those triggers and be the only one deciding where and when you eat. Time to kickstart some springtime healthy eating habits!
- Photos, top to bottom: PicJumbo, BigStock