Triggers For Eating


Are there situations in your life that make you want to eat? It may be just habit, so below are two situations that may help you break those habits.

Jane's Story

Jane is a 16-year-old student. She isn’t very sporty, prefering watching football to playing football herself. She enjoys dancing, but doesn’t do it in public that often because she’s not very happy with her tummy, or her thighs, or her bum for that matter.

Jane isn’t fat, really, but there’s maybe a bit more of her than there is of most of the girls she hangs out with. They don’t let her forget it very often, either. Especially not Becky, who’s like 5’ 10” and built like a dancer in a rap video.

They don’t really make fun of her a lot - they’re her mates, after all - but sometimes they make little comments that really hurt. She’s also pretty sure she’d have a boyfriend if she were a bit fitter.

Jane likes eating while checking her social media contacts. In fact most days she’ll get through half a packet of biscuits without even noticing it.

Jane realises that there's a chain of events that lead to her eating the biscuits every night – but if only she could stop – its now an ingrained habit!

What Can Jane Do?

Below are the chain of events which causes Jane to eat, along with the solution to each problem.

1. Biscuits bought by Mum in the weekly shop

Ask her mum not to buy biscuits, but to buy more fruit instead.

2. Biscuits left in the kitchen

Ask her mum and dad to put the biscuits away or limit Jane's access to them.

3.  Boredom

Jane finds that she needs something to do while waiting for a response back from the chat room or Twitter, so she eats.  To overcome this problem Jane could ask herself if she really needs to eat.  Is she hungry or is this just habit?  Is there something else she could do to occupy herself whilst waiting? She could try having a glass of water or sugar free squash on her desk.

4.  Urge to eat

Jane often find she has the urge to eat something, so grabs for the biscuits.  Having some fruit on show in the kitchen, and vegetable pieces in the fridge, really helps.  Jane could replace the biscuits with other snacks such as vegetable sticks or fruit pieces, or pitta bread and hummous.

It could be that Jane isn't really hungry, but just has a craving to eat something.  Instead of grabbing for food Jane should try to 'surf the craving' for 10-15 minutes.  Most cravings are like waves that crash to shore and then ebb away. To help her "surf the craving" she could distract herself by doing somethingelse like calling a friend, going for a walk, or doing her nails.  It helps to have a list of distractions to hand to refer to at these tough times.

Jane's Next Steps

Jane decides to talk to her mum and between them they decide to buy fewer biscuits and limit Jane’s access to them. After a while the whole family joins in and everyone starts eating more fruit and feeling a lot better for it.

On top of this Jane decides to set off early for school each day and walk two or three bus stops before catching the bus. After 3 months mum has lost a few pounds and as for Jane, well she’s almost as tall as Becky now and whilst she hasn’t lost any weight her shape has evened out. She’s just been a bridesmaid at her sister’s wedding and guess what, she looked great.

Jane and her familly have stuck to their new habits and Jane reckons it’s only a matter of time now before she has that boyfriend.

James' Story

James is a 14-year-old boy who lives with his family just outside Reading. He goes to a school near by and enjoys kicking around a football with his mates between classes. They all support Reading FC and look up to the players as they earn loads of money. On weekends James and his mates play football in the park and watch as much football as they can on TV. James is desperate to get into the school football team.

James’ best mate Josh plays for the rugby team and is top scorer for the school football team, but James just can’t work out why he’s so good at everything. On top of that, he’s top of the class in maths and science, and people still think he’s cool.

The other day Josh invited James round for tea after school. It was fun, and they played games on the PlayStation and watched some TV while Josh’s dad cooked the dinner. When it was ready, James was a bit surprised. They had something foreign with beansprouts and chicken and strange crunchy vegetables, and no fizzy drinks. But it was really nice. When James asked if that’s what they usually ate, Josh’s dad told him that it wasn’t, but they always tried to eat something healthy because the whole family had once been overweight, that’s why Josh and his sister had started doing more sport, and it helped keep their weight at a healthy level.

James guessed he was a bit overweight despite all the football he played. He thought it might be due to too many takeaways and fish and chips after school. James knew that eating too many chips, burgers and fried foods were bad for him, because his teachers sometimes said that, but he didn’t really know why.

What Can James Do?

Below are the chain of events which pevents James from changing his habits and achieving his ambition to play for the school football team, along with the solution to each problem.

1.  Mum & dad are too busy and don't understand

Mum and dad are busy people and are often home late in the evenings and tired at weekends.  James can talk to his mum and dad about how he feels about his shape and wanting to be in the school football team.

2.  His parents always buy burgers, sausages and chips

James' Mum and Dad buy something safe like burgers, sausages and chips as the children are fussy eaters.  James could talk to his mum and dad about a meal plan for the week which included foods that everyone liked, as well as, some new foods to try.

3.  Easier to buy the fish and chips on the way home

Sometimes it's easier to pick up fish and chips on the way home because James' mum can't  face cooking a meal after a long day at work.  James could offer to help with preparing some of the food so it's ready to be cooked when his mum and dad get home.

4. Weekend visits to fast-food restaurants

At the weekends they go to a fast-food restaurant as a treat.  James could ask his mum and dad about more suitable choices to have with his normal burger.

James' Next Steps

As a result of that visit to Josh’s house James chats to his mum and dad about his shape and finds out a lot more about food and exercise. His mum and dad didn’t know he was concerned or that he was desperate to get into the school team.

Mum and James sit down to work out a healthy menu for the whole family, challenging everyone to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables everyday. As a reward the family plan a day out to a local theme park. Dad also takes James and his mates out at the weekends to the local park and helps with a bit of skills training. He’s surprised how much he enjoys it.

Very soon James is spending all the hours he can practising for the team try outs. He doesn’t make the football team in the end but instead gets picked to play hockey for the school; something he is just as pleased with. In terms of his shape, all the exercise and healthier eating seems to have done the trick and James is now having to wear a belt on his trousers even though he hasn’t lost any weight. Just watch him go on the hockey pitch though.


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