26 things that have triggered me to eat

I wanted to make a list of the things that I’ve noticed that have triggered me to eat in ways that don’t serve me. Knowing what they are can help us to notice patterns, or understand ways to intervene.

Do you recognize any of these from your own life? What else would you add to this list?


26 things that have triggered me to eat in a way that doesn’t serve me

  1. Walking in the door to my house, after being out in the world.

  2. Being about to leave the house.

  3. Getting ready for work.

  4. Wishing I wasn’t at work (or that I wasn’t stuck at my desk).

  5. Being at a dinner with other people.

  6. Being at a restaurant.

  7. Being at a party.

  8. Being alone.

  9. Feeling fat.

  10. Feeling happy. (feeling happy can actually be kind of intense!

  11. Feeling sad.

  12. Feeling lonely.

  13. Feeling like I have too little to do, boredom.

  14. Feeling like I have too much to do.

  15. Procrastinating something that I need to do.

  16. Wanting a break in the middle of something that I need to do.

  17. Wanting some pleasure in my life.

  18. Feeling like I’ve had a hard day of work, and now I’m done, so I want a treat.

  19. Having intense feelings inside my body that I can’t explain.

  20. Being on a diet (even for 10 minutes).

  21. Wondering whether I should go on a diet.

  22. Having my pants be tight that morning (even if I know that they just shrunk in the wash).

  23. Knowing that I have a social event coming up.

  24. Knowing that I have a vacation coming up.

  25. Feeling insecure about whether I’m successful enough.

  26. Being afraid that I won’t get to eat this really delicious thing again.

One more thing about this list – I think there’s something almost deceptive about it. I think it almost makes eating issues seem simple.

You’re a smart person, and you might have looked at the list and thought, well, Katie, you just shouldn’t eat in those moments, then. I mean, obviously.

But if you’re someone who struggles with your eating, it usually doesn’t feel so cut-and-dry. It can be hard to identify, “oh, I’m just eating emotionally” in the moment, because you might feel compelled to eat before you have a chance to actually think or analyze.

And, even more problematically, these 26 moments are most of our lives! I mean – I’ve wanted to eat:  

When I was happy and when I was sad!
When I was with people and when I was alone!
When I was busy and when I have nothing to do!

So, if just about anything in your life can trigger you to eat in a way that doesn’t serve you, you can’t just not eat in those moments! You might never eat! You have to figure out a way to unpack the trigger, so you can meet the underlying need it represents…while still eating if you need to (because, uh, like I said: eating is essential to being a person who is alive).

One great first step is to notice your triggers. So I’d love to crowdsource this and hear from you:

  1. Which of the 26 things on my list are most problematic for you?

  2. What would you add to this list?  

Would you do me a favor? Comment below and let me know! I’d really love to hear from you + gather data on this.

Addendum: A bunch of folks emailed me their own triggers! Here are a few of them, below, in no particular order:

  1. My baby's nap time (he's asleep and I finally get a minute to myself! I'll celebrate with chocolate!)

  2. When I'm reading...I just LOVE to read and eat at the same time.

  3. When I’m trying to cut back on drinking, I end up bingeing or treating myself to things I wouldn’t normally eat.

  4. While cooking! i.e., being so hungry for dinner that I nibble and snack while I cook it

  5. Shame--about how I'm feeling, what I'm wanting, what I'm eating, what I'm avoiding, how I'm not performing/succeeding, etc

  6. Eating too much, or perceived "too much"

  7. Fear that what I'm eating is going to hurt my body

  8. Fear of missing out