The Binge Eating Diaries: Testing My Trigger Food


Trigger foods and binge eating | Changing relationship with food improves eating

“The Binge Eating Diaries” is a series by Green Mountain alum Jacki Monaco on her experience with binge eating disorder. Follow Jacki every other Thursday as she shares discoveries, challenges and successes on her journey to health and happiness.

My relationships with certain foods are much more complicated than my relationships with others. Certain bingeing foods weren’t easy to break up with, but I didn’t feel a deep seated loss. When it comes to other foods, my trigger foods, I find myself still in love, unable to get enough.

So what’s my trigger food? Angel hair pasta, Hunt’s Natural Tomato Sauce, and parmesan cheese. No one I’ve offered this combination to has ever been fond of the plain, flavorless sauce but I used to eat a pound of this concoction during a single binge. Sometimes I’d pre-prepare for the next binge by cooking 2 pounds of pasta at once, all of it just for me.

Last weekend I cooked some pasta for my boyfriend, my roommate, and me. When it came time to picking out the sauce, my stomach was in knots. I knew if I used a different sauce, the trigger would be dulled, but I pulled my can off the shelf as an option, too. Did I give in to temptation and set myself up for failure, or did I test myself and face my ex-food lover? I personally think a little of both.

Although I didn’t binge, because I was aware of my intake, was in a social setting, was enjoying it, and not feeling guilty at the time, I definitely overate and my body wasn’t too grateful. Feelings of frustration haunted me momentarily after my meal, so after a chat with me, myself, and I, we decided we’re not quite ready to get back together with our once Prince Charming.

***Note from Robyn Priebe, Green Mountain at Fox Run dietitian: Congratulations, Jacki, on what I see as a successful experiment! We encourage women to celebrate the small successes. In this case, Jacki did not binge, she enjoyed the food, and she wasn’t riddled with guilt during the eating process.

Although she felt that she overate, it was still a vast improvement over binge eating on the food. The next step would be for Jacki to explore why she might have overeaten it: Does she still consider it a forbidden food? Was the lack of protein a factor in not feeling full? Was it novel because she hadn’t had it in so long? By asking herself these questions without judgment, she will continue to make discoveries about herself she can use in her recovery.

Do you have a food love that stalks your daily thoughts? How do you tend to that relationship and how does it make you feel?

7 responses to “The Binge Eating Diaries: Testing My Trigger Food”

  1. I’ve allowed binge food into my house, by stocking more of it than I could ever possibly eat. If I do run out of it, I run to the grocery store to keep up my supply. I eat my binge food along with other components of protein, veg, & fruit, which helped take some of the glitter out of the binge food. If I find myself wanting more of the binge food than I physically needed, I ask myself, “What I might I be feeling, if I chose not to eat this particular food?” If I choose to continue eating it, I try to do so mindfully. Then I tell myself, “I look forward to the day when I don’t need to use food to feel my feelings & be comfortable with myself.”

    • Deborah says:

      I’ve tried this before but just keep eating the supplies I have at home and buying more and eating that. It’s gotten to the point that I’ve freaked myself out (wondering how much weight I would gain in a short amount of time and my inability to feel satiated) that I’ve put it on my forbidden list!

      I love the idea though – just not brave enough to stick with it for any decent period of time!


      • Marsha says:

        Kudos for you to being brave enough to try it. What I would suggest next is finding someone who can “hold your hand” through the process, to help you hang in there beyond your anxieties about weight and whether you can ever feel like you have enough. Support is one of the key factors in success in changing behaviors; sometimes we just need someone else to reassure us, someone we can share our worries with so they can help us see past them. It can be a good friend — someone who has already experienced what you are trying or is a normal eater herself/himself and understands the struggle — or it might be a professional who works with a non-diet, intuitive eating approach. Fortunately, there are growing numbers of professionals who do that. You can check out to find certified counselors in your area.

  2. Jace says:

    Eating As A Path To Yoga- What a spectacular idea! The more available, the less exciting and novel. I love that phrasing “taking some of the glitter out of the binge food.” What a great way of speaking to yourself and discussing what’s really happening with food. Thank you so much for reading and sharing.

    • Marsha says:

      I love what Eating as a Path to Yoga says, too. It’s about truly giving yourself permission to eat what and as much as you want. Because that’s critical to finding out what you really want.

      This is a key concept in the groundbreaking book Overcoming Overeating — which was first published in 1988, I believe! The concept is so scary for many, though, that it is often looked at as a wild idea. But it really is about trusting yourself to be able to discover what sustains you best. And it is about giving up control — which for binge eaters is scary because, of course, being out of control around food defines the problem. But as we stop trying to control, and just listen and respond intelligently instead, we can find balance…and peace.

      Thanks for a great post, Jacki, and a great response, Eating Path.

  3. Deborah says:

    I have certain binge / danger foods. They vary from time to time. Usually I cut one out and another replaces it. At the moment I’m staying away from chocolate, corn chips and cheese flavoured rice cakes.

    That’s not to say I’m not over-eating, but just not bingeing!


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