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This is a biggie because it's the THING that can derail you in a big way. You could have put SO much effort into your weight loss journey and the snag that starts to unravel it all can be a trigger food.
Let's talk about
- What trigger foods are.
- How to identify them.
- What to DO about them (spoiler alert: don't eat them. End of story).
This relates to Phase 4 primarily because in Phase 3 you're not eating any sugar or grain at all, and typically speaking trigger foods are going to be something that contains one or both of these ingredients.
THAT SAID, there is a lesson on Changing How Your Body Talks to You which discusses how in some cases, even what we view as healthy carbs/sugar (ie an apple for instance) may cause cravings if you are JUST coming off a previous sugar/food addiction - in such a case, you may experience what we're talking about here even in Phase 3 - in that case, please do avoid any foods that cause this sensation for you until your body starts to normalize.
For the most part we're talking about how this applies to us in Phase 4.
What Trigger Foods Are
Sometimes you will discover as you move into phase 4 that while not ALL carbs or sugar sources are problematic for you, there are certain specific foods or types of foods that cause a very obvious reaction in you.
TRIGGER FOODS seems to be a good term for this.
So with trigger foods, this is a food that when you eat it, it sparks a certain resulting feeling pretty reliably.
How can discovering and respecting your trigger foods for what they are help you?
It will both give you more FREEDOM because you'll get to eat things that might be in the same "group" - like carbs in phase 4 - but that aren't your triggers - while creating a structure that will help you maintain your weight loss because you're not just throwing yourself into a lions pit.
Making note of trigger foods.
So how do you know what your trigger foods are?
Once you have been on HCG and eating clean and you eat a food that's a trigger for you, you'll usually know it and you'll notice some of these following possible reactions.
Reactions to Trigger Foods You Might Notice:
- You think about wanting to eat a lot more of that food or just more food.
- You don't feel content with a serving or two of that food.
- You have a strong emotional/visceral reaction to the food.
- You feel Iike you lose your will power and self control with the food.
I discovered I had trigger foods and to show you just how trigger-y those suckers were I'll give you a couple examples of them - I mean we're talking major reaction to a mere SPOONFUL (you know that tiny little thing you eat with?) after which all of a sudden I would be consumed with a very strong desire to eat a LOT more of it.
- Single (as in 1) spoonful of real ice-cream while on a vacation in Oregon some years back. As soon as that spoon of creamy coldness hit my tongue, I kid you not, it literally felt like FIREWORKS went off in my brain and I was consumed with a very strong impulse to eat the rest of the pint and it took quite a bit of willpower to put the lid back on and put it back. This was after 2-3 years of not eating sugar already. A definite trigger.
- More recently: a brand of kind of low carb/low cal ice-cream called Halo Top - it made with milk protein and the sweetness of a combo of erythritol and stevia + some sugar. Again- first spoonful, tasted SO like the real thing, fireworks in ma' brain. My son and I devoured the whole pint while driving home in our truck and I turned to him and was like, "wow that was so amazingly good and we are never buying it again." I wanted to turn right around, drive back to the store, buy a couple more pints to eat right then, then go back the next day for more. I saw the entire path that was leading me down as clear as day and thankfully, because of my long history now, I quickly veered away from that path completely.
- "Sugar free" cookies" a friend made. A friend was so hospitable and knew I didn't eat sugar but really wanted to make a treat I could have. He insisted on baking some cookies made with just erythritol and stevia as the sweetener. Once again, I took one bite and was like, "these taste real," and if it weren't for the rest of the group I had to share with, I probably would have either eaten the whole bag or had to throw them away to prevent myself from doing that.
The reason that in all 3 of these situations I was able to put the STOP sign on these trigger foods without eating tons and tons more of it is because it's a road that I recognize very well and been down many times - I've come WAY too far and been in a much better place for so long that I knew the costs involved in letting myself head that way again and the cost is TOO HIGH.
But even for me, it's a slippery slope to try something like that so you can see the importance of taking note of these foods for yourself so that you can quickly put an end to opportunities for falling off the wagon.
These examples are to help give you ideas on what trigger foods might be for you.
Contrast this with treats I make for myself that have no sugar or grain and have erythritol and stevia as the sweetener.
My P3 dessert smoothies don't cause this reaction in me.
The right type of treat won't make the soldiers demanding you eat more sugar appear.
You want to find and eat the foods that don't make you crazy with cravings, because they are out there!
Interestingly there are occasional foods I eat that do contain actual sugar that do not cause this crazy cravings reaction.
Examples of sugar containing foods I can eat in Phase 4 without feeling wanting more and more....and more:
- Thai food- many Thai curries and sauces have sugar in them- however, this is a savory dinner in life and in my brain, and it does NOT cause this reaction. I can eat a big Thai dinner meal, feel satisfied and feel fine the next day and not have roving eyes the next day looking for something sugary to eat.
- A marinade for barbecued meat containing sugar this too doesn't cause cravings to arise.
- Even dried cranberries sweetened with sugar- doesn't cause me to need more of them the next day.
- French fries and corn tortillas. Of course this doesn't contain any actual real sugar, but we are told that simple carbs turn into sugar in our system. However, it really doesn't cause the same reaction of feeling in my body, so while I would never order a piece of cake or pie from a restaurant, I order French fries ALL the time and have no issues when it comes to subsequent cravings.
Your trigger foods may be different.
Perhaps you had an issue with overeating salty/savory foods- in your case maybe it might be something like chips or fries that throw you for a loop.
Gretchen Rubin in her book Better Than Before - Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives calls this being an "abstainer".
That for some of us in situations like these we find it much easier to totally abstain from certain foods or practices than to try to have it in moderation.
So it's worth finding your personal triggers foods where you suddenly feel like all your will power disappears instantly and that you are willing to give up everything you've worked for to eat more of what you just ate.
Don't trick yourself into either thinking you should somehow learn to "be strong" and continue to put yourself in this situation over and over and somehow never give in.
I don't have to tell you because you know from experience- it doesn't work does it? Because you've tried that many many times already.
Taking this approach and discovering trigger foods may be the very thing you need to make a consistent lifestyle possible for you.
Remember, this whole process is not to restrict you but to actually give you more FREEDOM.
What we're doing is being like, 'Ohhhhkay, here's the foods that totally derail me and ruin all my progress and prevent me from making lasting change...."
'and then here's the stuff I CAN have, that I MAY have lumped all together with the foods I already know I can't handle, but for some reason I've discovered they're actually different, and I CAN have these foods and doesn't derail my progress and ruin everything'
As a result you actually get to have more variety in what you eat, because of being aware of the two differences there.
Hi Rayzel – so first I’d like to thank you for your program! After I finished my second round, I P3 to life helped me stabilize so well, I was so happy! (after my first round, I gained 9 lbs and had to do several weight correction days – no correction days needed with P3 to life!!) However, Christmas has just been my trigger 🙁 too much wine and the sweets have done me in – I don’t even want to know how much I gained! (although I will check soon) I am planning to do another round in February however I’m wondering what you would suggest to do right now? Should I just go back to following week 4 strictly? or maybe even back to week 3? or just bite the bullet and start another round asap? (P.S. I did start the Christmas season very well, and kept a close eye on my weight, but at some point the triggers were just too much )
Hey Lisa! So sorry I’m just seeing this now. I’m really glad P3tolife worked so well for you! I feel you- I started having a little wine again and I did find it harder to maintain – I took it back out, wasn’t worth the pain. Honestly, I actually wonder what would happen if you were to start from week 1 – you could follow it from there till you start P2- with the calories being low at first but then gradually raising you’d likely lose a few lbs along the way. I wouldn’t start hCG again right away unless you really feel ready. But totally up to you! I hope that helps!
I am revisiting the P3tolife program and I am grateful it is here. Since ending P2 in March I have slowly gained 4 lbs…..the reason, I believe is trigger foods. So, back to basics. Grain is not an issue. Sugar is not an issue. For me: nuts, nut butter, and cheese. I am still exercising 4-5 days a week, eat primarily paleo, drinking tons of water. In exploring the psychological reasons why, I have determined it is a combination of unhappiness at work and it getting cold and dark in the Northeast. Back on the bandwagon- journaling what I eat just so I know what I am putting in my mouth….. Staying away from trigger foods….taking a break from alcohol. Dropping the 3-4 lbs will happen. Onward and upward.
I have been in Ph4 for about 3 months now and am not having a problem maintaining my weight. HOWEVER- I have “experimented” with carbs and become less diligent in keeping the sugar out. I feel terrible! Physically ill. A few tortilla chips here, a handful of GF pretzels there…..now I am starving in the mornings, cannot limit my intake, and am back to having hot flashes. Back to square one- wiser than before. I also think I am having an allergic reaction to the air at work but the carb/sugar cycle is aggravating it. I got this. Feeling well is SO much more important than a handful of chips.
This isn’t an issue in P3 but bread is my weakness. I can not stop at one piece period! It’s sad but true!
I’m totally that way with tortilla chips- funny thing IS I can totally eat 2 corn tortillas with a little butter and salt and stop just fine- but somehow make them into chips and it’s like, hmmm look at this empty bag here in front me….. :)!!
It is so good to re-read this. I am in phase 4 but will be starting a new round week after next. For years, I had thought this about certain foods -peanut butter – is one of mine (I use PB powder with out the trigger problem). When I would tell people, they would look at me like I was crazy and I started to feel like maybe I am crazy. Maybe there is something REALLY wrong with my brain or body since no one else seems to go through this.
It is good to let us know that we are not alone and give us the right words to help others around us. You know the ones that say “You have been doing so good. One bit will not hurt you.” I have finally broken my family from this by explaining that we would not offer a recovering drug addict or alcoholic – hit of a drug or a shot of vodka. Thanks for the support!
Thank you for writing this comment Andrea- one of my other interview guests, Heather, said the SAME thing about Peanut butter! What is it about that stuff that’s so addicting sheesh lol! That’s great you were able to explain things to the fam in a way they could get it.
Ugh. Thanks for this. Just a good reminder. I just finished 3 weeks of P3 and have been doing beautifully (mostly thanks to you!) and I made myself this “low carb cereal’ with a mixture of nuts, unsweetened coconut, etc. It was just delicious, but it was MORE than delicious. It was a trigger and as soon as I was done with one (very small) serving, all I could THINK about was eating more. It’s so weird to CRAVE something that should be healthy. I can eat just a handful of nuts and be fine but there was something about the cereal mixture combined with the nut milk that did it for me. I always loved regular boxed cereal as a kid (and as an adult) and could eat bowl after bowl in a single sitting. So disappointed this is a trigger, but it’s just another thing I won’t keep in the house to tempt me. Thanks again for being so honest and REAL in your videos.
Hey Christine! I’m so glad to hear your p3 has been going well. I have to remind myself about the trigger foods sometimes too!