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Is your struggle with food an environmental problem?

Most of us know how easily triggered we are by foods we love but don’t want to eat anymore. I get uncomfortable smelling bakery goods. I get just as uncomfortable watching others eat chocolate cake or donuts or a bowl of ice cream. Why? Because I have so many pleasant associations with those foods that my cravings get activated and it’s a struggle to keep saying no.

So how is this an environmental problem? Because these triggers have shown up in my environment and I am safer when my environment doesn’t contain problem foods. Here are some ideas for creating environments that support your desire to stay abstinent:

  • Choose meeting places that don’t carry your favorite binge foods. I avoid bakeries, coffee shops where the only seats face the pastry case, candy stores, ice cream stores, pizza parlors. I have a fair amount of will power but I don’t want to use it up resisting foods that don’t work for me.
  • If you live alone, keep your home free of foods that aren’t on your food program. And if someone brings something in for a potluck or other event that triggers you, send the leftovers home with them. It’s been helpful for me to have all foods in my home be safe foods.
  • I keep food off the counters and out of sight except for my fruit bowl.
  • If you live with others who don’t follow your program, have a conversation about creating a safe environment for you. One woman asked her husband and kids to support her by keeping their snack foods in a lower cupboard and to always dispose of their wrappers and put their dishes in the dishwasher. Another woman asked her husband to get a small freezer for the basement where he could keep his ice cream and eat it in his work room.
  • The grocery store can be another difficult environment. I shop only once a week, get almost everything I need in the fresh departments that are on the outer edge of the supermarket and avoid many of the aisles. I don’t need to see those foods.


What changes could you make in your environment to support your abstinence?

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