Day #5: How to identify your triggers

It’s odd: I feel guilty and ashamed of binge-eating and being fat, but we all have flaws. In terms of other addictions, some people drink to excess; some smoke; some take drugs; some eat junk food for every meal. And on a lesser level, some people can’t function without coffee first thing in the morning – which I think is still a minor addiction.

Then there are worse behavioural flaws that affect other people more: some folk have affairs time and time again, some are terrible gossips, some bitch about their friends. And some lose their temper a lot: I know an aggressive man who regularly pushes his partner around and shouts at his children. I’d much rather binge-eat than do anything like that.

Anyhow, becoming aware of your behaviour is the first step to fixing it. Identifying the triggers for the behaviour can be really helpful, as you can then try and avoid or avert them, and therefore reduce the behaviour.

The triggers are the prompts that directly precede your unhealthy behaviour and lead to it, seemingly inevitably. Different behaviours will have different triggers; but to give you an example, here are my triggers for binge-eating (the fixes for them are in the takeaways further down):

Food that’s going to waste. When I grew up, if I left food on my plate, one of three things would happen: I’d either be hit, force-fed, or I’d find the same food on my plate for the next meal, and the next, until I ate it. That programmed me with deep anxiety about leaving food, and to this day I’ll eat my daughter’s food that she leaves on her plate.

Free food. I have no idea why, but if food is free, it’s like my brain gives me carte blanche to binge on it. For this reason, I’ve had to avoid Slimming World ‘taster evenings’ where everyone brings a dish. They’re usually low-calorie dishes, but if you eat enough of anything it’s going to add up. I’ve also avoided parties for this reason.

Being in the kitchen. Naturally, I associate the kitchen with eating, and that triggers my hunger even if I wouldn’t otherwise be hungry.

When everyone else is eating. I’m a very social person and love meeting up with friends. When friends are eating, it just feels wrong not to join in – and it also makes me feel deprived to see them enjoying delicious food.

Yesterday, my lovely friend Lucy came round and we played lots of board and card games with Lily. They both ate mini-muffins, and Lily ate ice cream, and so I’m reluctant to say it but I ate both. I was conservative about the amounts though, so still lost weight!


We played Cluedo and I realised that the character Reverend Green was a dead ringer for my friend Charlie Brooker!

And I ate loads of fruit, including a mango and pineapple fruit salad and two bananas:



Diet update

Days: 4

Total loss: 5.6lbs

Still need to lose: 61.8lbs

Yesterday I ate:

Two slices of sourdough toast with almond butter and banana
Five super seeded oatcakes with houmous
Baked beans
Raspberries and blackberries
Pineapple and mango fruit salad

Exercise: hit all my Apple Watch goals again and did a 26-minute run for 2.41km (over 1.5 miles, which is amazing for someone so unfit!) but did it in two instalments.

Takeaways (with fixes):

Identifying your triggers is the first step to changing unhelpful behaviours. You can’t change something if you’re not aware of it.

When food is going to waste, give it away, either to a food bank, friends, family or neighbours. Sometimes I leave unwanted food outside my house with a ‘please take’ sign!  There’s also an app called OLIO for giving away unwanted food for free. If all else fails, cover the food in washing up liquid and throw it in the bin. It’s better that it goes in the bin than in you!

Free food. I try to think of it as free fat: ‘Look at all this free fat for your muffin top!’ That reframes the food as undesirable.

Being in the kitchen. If you have to be in the kitchen for a social event, drink tea. That way you’re busying yourself with slurping and it may trick your brain into thinking it’s equivalent to eating.

When everyone else is eating, eat fruit and veg. At least you’ll be joining in that way. No, it’s not as good (and no, I didn’t manage to avoid the mini-muffin and ice cream yesterday – so if you can’t be virtuous, be judicious with your portions!)

Quote of the Day

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – Narcotics Anonymous

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