What do we do when something unexpectedly triggers us? It can be unnerving when we seem to be doing well in working towards a more positive relationship with food and our bodies only to be derailed by something that takes us by surprise. Triggers can come in a lot of forms including an offhand comment someone makes, a conversation we overhear, a social media post, etc. So how do we handle these things when they come up? The best way to start is by doing what we can to avoid these triggering situations as much as we are able. For example, we can do a social media detox. I’ve talked about this in previous posts but this essentially unfollowing/unfriending those people who tend to post triggering content on social media. (Transformation photos, food photos, weight loss related posts etc), or take a brake from social media all together for awhile.
Another thing we can do to avoid triggers is talk to those close to us about how conversations about dieting, weight loss, etc. make us feel and ask that they not talk about those things in our presence. This can be very hard to do and it certainly doesn’t mean everyone will respect our wishes and not bring it up, but it can cut down on the amount of diet talk we are exposed to. Of course, doing these things does not mean triggering situations will never happen. In fact, in all likelihood they still will. So, provided we have done what we can to avoid these triggering situations, what do we do when they happen?
One thing that can be helpful is to step away from the situation. Leave the conversation, get off the phone, computer, etc. Whatever the trigger is, it’s helpful to get some distance from it. Another thing that can be helpful is to take our mind off the experience and do something we enjoy. Maybe that’s taking a quick walk around the block, calling someone who is supportive, watch a favorite show, or a variety of other things. Regardless of the activity of choice, doing something fun that can help take your mind off the triggering situation can be helpful. Finally, once you are feeling able, it is helpful to give some thought to why the situation was triggering for you and if there are things you can do to prevent it from occurring again. (Maybe a non dieting friend posted a diet related social media post out of the blue and you maybe need to unfollow them for a while, or maybe you need to set some boundaries with someone around diet talk etc. Think about some of those strategies for avoiding triggers I discussed earlier). The more we learn about our triggers the easier they become to deal with.
Lastly but probably most importantly, is treating ourselves with care and kindness, even when we didn’t handle the triggering situation in the moment how we would like to have. This is a learning process that takes time, and it’s ok to find triggering situations continue to come up. Over time, these things will happen less and less often, and when they do happen when create less of an emotional response, but getting triggered does not mean you aren’t making great progress toward developing a more peaceful relationship with food and your body.
Questions about handling triggers or anything else food/body image related? Feel free to get in touch!