Thursday, October 21, 2010

What's Your Trigger?

For me, the ultimate trigger food is Pepsi.

I know that not everyone feels this way about it, or about soda in general, but I crave it with every meal, and every time I eat, I have to make a conscious (and often difficult) decision not to crack one open and guzzle it down. Nothing tastes better and more refreshing with food, and only regular, high fructose corn syrup-filled Pepsi will do. There are few substances on the planet that taste worse to me than diet soda.

The problem with ANY trigger food is that it's extremely difficult to consume in moderation. Having a little leads to having a lot more, and what's worse, trigger foods tend to lead to other unplanned indulgences, making it tempting to abandon healthy eating altogether. This totally happens for me with Pepsi. When I drink it, I can rarely stop at one can or one glass at a restaurant. And once I'm drinking it, a combination of physical cravings and a feeling of throwing caution to the wind sets in, and I just go ahead and eat whatever starchy food I can get my hands on. The stuff just tastes so darn good with anything and everything that's bad for you, and in a way that water or iced tea never could, so drinking Pepsi ends up being the ultimate excuse to squeeze in some of the worst eating possible before I "go back" to eating low-carb at the next meal. It's a pretty vicious cycle.

Every time I get serious about healthy eating, I do pretty well at cutting Pepsi out. When I first discovered low-carb eating a few years ago, I went cold turkey and lasted an entire three months without so much as a sip. When my husband and I decided to give up Pepsi together a couple of months before our wedding, I only cheated at my bachelorette party. And over the past few months of the hit-and-miss not-quite-fully-committed low-carbing I've been doing, I'm down from averaging 3-4 cans a day to 1-2 a week.

But regular Pepsi, with 41 grams of sugar per can really has zero place in a healthy diet. I know that. And I know and understand why nearly every diet expert out there recommends identifying your trigger foods so you can KEEP THE HELL AWAY FROM THEM, but the thought of a life entirely without Pepsi makes me feel downright panicky. Probably because it's a real addiction, huh? I'd like to think that there will be a time in my life where I'll be able to allow myself to have a little Pepsi on a special occasion and stop there, but I'm not sure that will ever happen.

What are your triggers and how do you deal with them? Is it better to stay away from them entirely or to make them a rare treat? Is it healthy (or even possible) to resolve to never eat a beloved food ever again?