What Causes Diets to Fail?

June 11, 2012

Nutrition, Tips & Tools

HELP! I’ve fallen off the diet wagon – again!

Do you struggle with sticking to your healthy eating  or diet plan?  What sort of things cause you to go off course – do you know what your trigger food or situation is?

Many of us make great plans at the beginning of the year, beginning of the month, and even at the beginning of every week – to eat healthy – to “stick to the plan” – and then something happens to cause us to over eat, cheat, or even go on a full fledged binge.

What are Triggers that cause diets to fail?

A Trigger Food can be defined as the one that gets you off course for the next hour and you are not eating because you are truly hungry. A Trigger Situation can be where you are, who you are with and what you are doing when this happens. Example – you are home alone had a cookie, then another and next you are looting the kitchen for anything that looks good. Or you had good intentions about going out for dinner with a friend, but a high calorie appetizer and then a big dessert also landed in front of you. An hour later you regret that little binge and don’t even want to think how many calories you just consumed! You tell yourself, I know better, why did I do that? I won’t do that again!

Here’s a little tool to help you avoid Trigger Foods and Trigger Situations

Take out a blank sheet of paper and draw two lines to create three column.  In the first column,  brain storm a full list of of  ALL your trigger foods. Is it a snack food or part of a meal? Are they sweet or salty? Hot, cold or room temperature? Carbs, comfort foods?

In the second column, list the sources of the Triggers Foods.  Is it a fast food restaurant? Drive thru? Food you order in? Grocery store? Convenience store? Meals at family or friends? Co-workers birthday cake? Treats from others? Think of all the places you are when you are most tempted.

Now in the third column, describe the most common situations where you reach for the trigger foods or snacks. What room are you in, what time is it, what are you doing, who is with you, and how do you feel? Are you tired? Stressed? Are you eating to feel better? Are you rewarding yourself? Soothing yourself? Are you bored? By getting the food how does it make what you are doing better? What should you be doing at that time?

OK – think about how often any of these trigger foods or situations ocurr – circle the ones that happen the most frequent – daily? weekly?  Do you see a pattern? What types of foods are you reaching for? Does convenient access make a difference?

Take out a new sheet of paper and transfer your top three trigger foods/situations to a new list – next to each on, think about how can you better handle the situations to avoid the triggers and not binge or eat more than you should.

That is what this exercise is about – how will you not do that again? Can you pick a replacement habit or behavior that will cause you to pause to think “do I really want to do this”, and why? Maybe it would help to walk away from the trigger – drink water, go for a walk, phone a friend, go outside, look out the window, brush your teeth, or play with your pet? Be consistent so you can develop the new habit.  You can also get your hands busy with something else – blog about it (hard to eat and type at the same time!)  Sharing your situation with others will not only give you an alternative action to the trigger, it will also inspire others and provide you with immediate support – win win!!

Most of us berate ourselves when we “fall down” and wish we had more will power to stick with our plan and not be overcome by temptation.  BUT, will power is just one small aspect of being able to stay on a diet or maintain a healthy eating lifestyle.  Having a plan and knowing when you are most likely to be tempted to divert is a much more powerful tool to ensure your success.

Write out your strategy to avoid the Triggers. Maybe it’s baby steps to get you started or moderation. Don’t be a perfectionist. Put your ideas on post-its in your high trigger locations.  Consider most of the time you will get it right.  Need more ideas for creating your own Healthy Fitness & Diet Plan? Click here to sign up for the FREE Fast Track to develop your personalized plan.

What did you learn from doing this assignment? Anything else to add? Please comment to give others new ideas to try as well!!



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8 Responses to “What Causes Diets to Fail?”

  1. Brett Banford Says:

    Awesome way to get people involved with an exercise, I might just use this for myself. Thanks for the great info!


  2. Jared Says:

    Great idea! I need to implement the tool for the trigger foods and situations!


  3. Darren Says:

    I know when work starts to get stressful, it is real easy to run down to the vending machine to grab a chocolate bar to make myself feel better. I’m not sure why, but this is something I have prohibited myself from doing this year. This is a great post because it makes you think about these things.


  4. Carmen Cox Says:

    Great advice for people that can’t remember what is making them eat, the why and when 🙂


  5. Mary Riley Says:

    I really enjoyed this post. The exercise is a good one and sure to help you gain and insight into why you binge. Thanks for sharing!


  6. Rich Taub Says:

    I like the ideas of making the list writing down the trigger foods, really makes you think.
    Good article



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