What Are Trigger Foods?

A few days ago, I treated myself to some chocolate chunk salted trail mix.  Well, it’s 3 days later and I’ve found myself eating this trail mix every day since. And way too much of it.  Yep. Chocolate chunk trail mix is a trigger for me.

We’ve all been there.  You’re in that healthy mind, healthy body groove. You’re feeling good. You’re in control. You rock.

And then that little voice starts up. “You can totally handle a treat. You’ve earned it.  Just a little one.”  Next thing you know you’re face planted in a chocolate cake which may taste oh so good, but leaves you feeling oh so bad- physically as well as mentally.

I’m not saying that you should never have treats. Or sugary foods. Or cheese. Or bread. I want you to be able to enjoy all of the deliciousness out there. But there are certain foods that are going to cause chemical or emotional reactions that to lead you to make poor choices all day long.

That will make you feel out of control.

That will leave you feeling depleted physically and mentally.

I call these trigger foods.

Triggers foods are called that for a reason. They set off a chemical reaction in your body that trigger  cravings for a never ending supply of that food and others that do not do your body good and restart that cycle of toxic eating.

It could be the taste. The texture. The memories that they bring up.

The idea of identifying these trigger foods can seem overwhelming. The thought of removing a certain food may make you angry. Or frustrated with yourself for not having “will power”.

But what if we shifted our way of thinking and reached deep to figure out what it is about these foods that’s drawing us in. What are we REALLY hungry for?

Is eating those foods really bringing you pleasure? Or do you find yourself feeling guilty, out of control or down on yourself?  I don’t know about you but I want the foods I eat to leave me feeling positive, strong, energized and healthy.

Are you missing something emotionally or physically that’s making you crave sweets, or alcohol or caffeine or cheese or whatever your trigger food is?  Have you been skimping on those healthy fats or veggies that satisfy your body’s nutritional desires? Or are you missing something emotionally and reaching for sweets to replace the sweetness that’s missing in your life?

For me, chocolate trail mix, and sugar in general, gives me an extra burst of energy. At first. But when I really think about it, that energy is short lived and is followed by a bit of crankiness and then extreme tiredness. Not worth it.

When I’m honest with myself, I can recognize that there are plenty of other things I can do that give me energy and taste good, without leaving me feeling guilty and…I’ll be honest…nauseous.

Extra playtime with my puppy, a walk along the lake, green tea, a good workout- these are all things that leave me feeling happy, fulfilled and energized.

Removing your trigger foods will leave you feeling in control, content and nourished in body and soul.

This is something to keep in mind with Halloween just a day away. If you can have a couple of pieces of candy- go for it! Enjoy every bite. But if having one piece is going to end with you binging on your kids’ hard earned trick or treat goods, decide if it’s worth it and consider skipping it this year.

As a Functional Nutritionist, I do walk the walk, but sometimes I also trip along the way. What I’ve learned to do is to use these trips as an opportunity to learn where to place my feet so that I don’t trip in the same place again.

I’d like to challenge you to really dig deep the next time you are craving something that you know will trigger a pattern of unhealthy eating and see if you can find one hidden emotion or physical feeling that is creating this craving. I’d love to hear about what you find.


Make sure to follow me on Instagram and watch my stories for more info on navigating your way through trigger foods and all things health and wellness related.




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