I'm Certified Running Coach Sarah Scozzaro. Let me help you achieve your running goals.

Trigger Foods (aka the Tale of the Jelly Bean)

Here goes:  I have an addiction to a certain sugary candy that is abundant this time of year.

Oh, glorious beans of sugar!

So, it’s not actually much of a secret; most people who know me know that I have an insatiable appetite for jelly beans.  There is a reason I only consume them within the 24 hour period that comes pre or post ultra marathon.  Once I start, I simply cannot stop.  In fact, I am putting together a care package for a deployed service member my hubby works with, and I have 6 (!!) jumbo sized bags of jelly beans in my house right now, and it is absolute torture to not tear into them and start mainlining them like a junkie.

I can hear you now “Oh c’mon, what’s a handful?  One little bite?  You’re a fit and healthy gal, surely you can make room for a little treat in your diet now and then?”  All reasonable thoughts, of course.  I am the first one to preach moderation, and allowing yourself to have a treat now and then. I don’t believe it’s healthy to be too restrictive with your diet all of the time.  But there are certain foods we all have that we just can’t say no to.  It’s all fine and good…until it isn’t.

For me, Jelly Beans are what I like to call a “trigger food”; once I start, I cannot stop, and it always ends with me feeling like poo and frustrated with myself.  Not because a little treat is something to get worked up about, but because I know I am a sugar addict, and there is no stopping with one serving. I consume them in an almost blacked out “out of body state”; I eat them as fast as I can, not really even tasting the different flavors, as if I know I will “come to” at any moment and have them taken away from me…so I better get to eating as many as I can, as fast as I can.  Trust me…it is not a pretty sight.  I have nearly been reduced to tears as my poor hubby was tossing a half eaten bag into the garage, at my request. I was jonseing that badly for a sugar fix and couldn’t trust myself to stop.  That doesn’t sound like a healthy mindset or behavior, does it?

Not being able to set limits with my trigger foods means I displace healthy, wholesome food calories with unhealthy sugary ones.  I am not eating to fuel my human machine, or give it the optimum ability to recover.  I would never put crappy fuel in a sports car; why should I treat my body any differently?

Which leads me to my thoughts for today; if you know you can not handle a certain food, if it just provides too much temptation and you find yourself worked into a cold sweat just thinking of it sitting in your cupboard…do yourself a favor.  DO NOT put yourself through the torture of having your trigger item in the home. Or at work.  Or in your car (this use to be my favorite place to stash my jelly bean supply).  Just don’t do it to yourself. I am not saying NEVER have it, but rather to save it for a special occasion or when you are out; like my jelly bean feasting pre-ultras.  Just one more thing to look forward to on race day!

A client recently told me that she feels the food “always wins.”  That no matter her resolve, she can’t avoid the temptation of snacking on certain treats once she gets home from work.  Now, if those certain snack items never even made it into her shopping cart, and subsequently never made their way to her house, her likelihood of success in NOT letting her trigger food win would be much higher.  The temptation only wins if you give it an opening and you bring it into your life. Try to limit your temptations and trigger foods as much as you can.  Set yourself for success but knowing your strengths…and your weakness!

As for me, those 6 bags of beans are sealed up in a shipping box, ready to be mailed out tomorrow.  *whew*  And that is something I can feel very good about!


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