Hey lovely people. I’m back with another recovery post – this time, I’m talking about “trigger foods”. This is a topic that comes up with so many people I speak to who are going through an eating disorder, so I thought it might be a good one to have a little chat about.
So I’m sure if you’re from a similar background to me, you will know exactly what I mean by a trigger food. A food that, if you were to eat it, would cause an overwhelming feeling of panic, a compulsion to have to “get rid” of it immediately in some way, and probably stop you eating for quite a while afterwards. But the funny thing is, trigger foods tend to be something we used to really enjoy (and secretly, still love).
The feeling of overcoming the fear of a trigger food and being able to enjoy it again is honestly one of the best feelings in the world, and that’s what I’m here to talk about. Because – trust me – you can do it.
It was so difficult for me to pick my ultimate trigger food. There were so many things that used to set me off on a huge panic…dairy, meat, pasta and chocolate to name a few. But the absolute killer for me has always been bread, so that’s the one I decided to talk about. And it seemed like a good choice…because I absolutely adore bread now!
I think bread definitely has to be the one thing that used to terrify me more than anything. I was literally so frightened of it. It made me feel absolutely huge, and would put me off going anywhere near food for a long time. I was terrible with carbs full stop…but I would not touch any form of bread.
But really – I used to love bread, and I did always miss it. But because I had become so obsessed with “healthy living”, and bread has so much bad stigma attached to it, I just cut it out of my diet altogether. But bread really isn’t the terrible, unhealthy thing everyone makes it out to be.
Okay, so I’m not saying it’s great to eat slices and slices every day, and obviously white, processed bread isn’t that great for you. But that’s not what I’m talking about, and that’s not something I ever used to enjoy. What I love is home-made, organic , freshly baked bread, made with delicious, nutritious ingredients. You can pack so much goodness into bread, and there are such a huge variety of flavour and ingredient combinations to discover. Think wholemeal banana and walnut loaves, spelt bread, rye bread with pumpkin seeds, flaxseed bread, rosemary and olive bread…the possibilities are endless.
So many of these breads are so good for you, brimming with nutrients and health benefits. But my all time favourite has to be…sourdough. And this isn’t for any particular health reason. It’s not going to help give you abs or glowing skin. The reason it’s my favourite is quite simple – It. Is. Absolutely. Delicious. (And it is still actually not at all bad for you!)
There’s just something so wonderful about the texture – I think it has the most satisfying crunch of any bread. It has the most fabulous, nutty flavour, that’s so moreish and goes with absolutely anything. I love it with avocado and poached eggs (classic), or just spread with layers of home-made raspberry jam, or nut butter and banana slices. But where sourdough truly excels is pizza. I honestly cannot explain how unbelievably delicious sourdough pizza is. If you ever come across a “Franco Manca” restaurant, you have to visit. They do the best sourdough pizzas in the world, with totally organic ingredients. Seriously, you have to go…that pizza base is to die for!
I’m rambling on now about how much I love bread…but honestly, up until recently, I genuinely never thought I’d be able to eat it again. I got so upset if I ever did, and would have to exercise manically to “burn it off”. It would put me off food for at least all of the following day too.
But when I started my recovery journey, I started to slowly incorporate it back into my diet. And I mean slowly. It’s great to want to overcome a trigger food, but trust me, don’t do too much too fast. That’s where I went wrong – I gave myself far too big challenges, like ordering a whole pizza when I hadn’t eaten a slice of bread for months, and putting myself off for even longer.
So just take it steady. For example, with bread, I started by just having half a slice of rye toast every other day, with some soup. Or I’d have some with a banana for breakfast. Then I’d gradually build that up to two slices. Then an open sandwich with some chicken or an egg. And just keep going like that, one small step at a time.
Incorporating it slowly back into my diet was brilliant, because it proved something really important to me – I can enjoy the foods I really love, without it catapulting me into the realms of being morbidly obese, which is what I believed. In fact, it made no noticeable difference to me whatsoever. Well, apart from feeling healthier and happier. And guess what? That’s the only difference it would make to you too. You can enjoy the foods you love with no guilt, and no punishment.
I now eat avocado and poached eggs on sourdough at least three times a week for breakfast. There are so many bakeries in Norwich, and I love buying a freshly baked loaf of rye, sourdough or spelt. And every time I crunch down into a slice, all I can think is “Yes! I won!”. There is no better feeling in the world than having a triumph over your eating disorder. And as someone who never thought this would be possible, I’m telling you, you can do it too.
Just think of a food you really love and miss, and how unbelievably wonderful it would be to be able to enjoy it again. Then have a look at the steps I took with bread, and see if you can adapt this process to your trigger food. Remember, just tiny steps at a time, and never more than you can handle. Even the tiniest bite is an amazing achievement. And try to savour and enjoy it more every time, and remember how much you love it.
Food is there to be enjoyed. It’s no use depriving yourself of the things you love, because it’s only ever going to make you unhappy. And we all deserve to treat ourselves. You can eat all the kale and sweet potato you like, but the thing is…a little bit of what you fancy is what your body will really thank you for.
So go on, set yourself a little challenge, and get that food you adore back in your life. Because you deserve it!
Love Lucy x