It’s that time of year where we celebrate all things spooky. But getting controlled by trigger foods-especially those sugary treats can be tricky all year long.

Sooooo, in honor of Halloween, I am sharing an episode on trigger foods for you to dive in to. There are some great hacks for you to employ during the season of candy!

Halloween may be the official opening of the sugar season but let’s face it–sugar now dominates until we all do a sugar detox in January–I want you to have a great relationship with sugar NOW where you are the BOSS.

The 85th Episode of Thin Thinking Podcast will allow you to slam the door on those tricky cravings, so you can have more control over the foods that continuously haunt your weight management.

In This Episode, You'll Learn:

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Rita Black: Halloween is that time of year where we celebrate all things spooky. By getting controlled by trigger foods, especially those sugary treats, can be tricky all year long. Join me in this week's episode where we dive into mind hacks that can allow you to slam the door on those tricky cravings that keep the doorbell ringing in your head so you can have more control over the foods that haunt you and your weight management. So come on in.

Rita Black: Did you know that our struggle with weight doesn't start with the food on your plate or get fixed in the gym? 80% of our weight struggle is mental. That's right. The key to unlocking long-term weight release and management begins in your mind. Hi there, I'm Rita Black. I'm a clinical hypnotherapist weight loss expert, bestselling author, and the creator of the Shift Weight Mastery Process. And not only have I helped thousands of people over the past 20 years achieve long-term weight mastery, I am also a former weight struggler, carb addict and binge eater.

Rita Black: And after two decades of failed diets and fad weight loss programs, I lost 40 pounds with the help of hypnosis. Not only did I release all that weight, I have kept it off for 25 years. Enter the Thin Thinking Podcast where you too will learn how to remove the mental roadblocks that keep you struggling. I'll give you the thin thinking tools, skills and insights to help you develop the mindset you need, not only to achieve your ideal weight, but to stay there long term and live your best life.

Rita Black: Hello everyone. Welcome. Come on in. I hope you're doing great. Do you love Halloween decorations as much as I do. You know, I really, really, really, when my kids were young, just loved so much getting ready for Halloween. I think what I loved the most was their excitement about the Halloween decorations. Because now that they're grown up and they don't care and their, you know, think it's not cool, you know, I'm not one of those people that continues to put the spider webbies things in my garden because it's so hard to get it off.

Rita Black: But I do love driving around and seeing all the other decorations, and I do love this time of year for that. So I'm thinking a lot though, every year I'm always reminded about when I struggled with my own weight. Halloween was always about for me, what kind of candy do I have on hand? Because there was that internal struggle always within me. The part of me that wanted to be good, the part of me that said, Get a candy you hate so you don't think about it. You don't have to worry about it, even though I would usually end up eating that as well. But, or you know, do I get the candy I love? You know? So for me, candy corn was always a big thing. I know most people are really grossed out by the idea of candy corn, but it is kind of like a huge trigger food for me, not kind of, It is a huge trigger food for me.

Rita Black: So I usually always ended up getting the kind I hated. But you know, every once in a while, would break down at the last minute and go buy, you know, the little Snickers and all of those things too. And some candy corn. I didn't give anybody the candy corn, of course, I just bought it and ate it for myself. That the post Halloween sales are the worst because then, you know, they're offering the candy at like half price and you're like, Hmm, well I'll get this for next year. And then you get home and you're like this is gonna be too stale next year. I better eat it now. Oh, our human brain. It is so crazy. And that is why, you know, we always join here to get things straightened out, right?

Rita Black: So, in honor of Halloween, I am pulling from the archive, one of our most popular episodes on Trigger Foods for you to dive into. There are some really great hacks for you to employ during the season of candy. Halloween is the official opening of the season of Candy, but let's face it, until we all go on a sugar detox in January, it's usually from now until the end of the year, unfortunately. So I want you to have a great relationship with sugar now. So please listen in. Sugar and other trigger foods, I mean. Because for some of you, you might not be a sugar person. You might be a savory, salty person or just a savory person. So I'm not excluding you in the Trigger Foods episode at all. So please listen in. But if you are into sugar and don't wanna be run by sugar anymore, please, if you haven't grab my free shift out of sugar cravings hypnosis session that is in the show notes, and it is also available on my website, www.shiftweightmastery.com. That's www.shiftweightmasterweek.com. And grab it there. And let's dive into today's episode, shall we?

Rita Black: And now let's just unwrap the wrapper around these trigger foods and get to the soft and caramelly center of it all. Okay, so what exactly are trigger foods Rita, you would ask. So you may know what trigger foods are, but if you don't, a trigger food is a food that we really, you know, we eat one and then we want another one, and then we want another one. And really trigger foods are foods that our brain and bodies react to that it kind of render. They kind of render us powerless. We'll eat the whole bag ,we'll eat the whole gallon, we'll eat all of it. And typically, trigger foods are wired in kind of in a special way in our brain. And from my understanding, you know, with working with people in weight management for 20 years, I think there's a genetic component.

Rita Black: I think there's an emotional component. And I think that these foods get wired in our brain and hit our dopamine center in a special way because nobody has the same trigger foods, you know. I have very specific trigger foods for me, you know, and of the thousands of people I've helped, you know, there, there are, and, and obviously there are trigger foods that are common for a lot of people. For a lot of people, frozen yogurt is a trigger food. Popcorn can be a trigger food for people. Candy is definitely a trigger food for people, and especially that really sweet, sweet candy. And that is me. That is my trigger. Foods are all really sugar based, but they don't need to be sugar based. They can be they can be a savory food. They can even be a non carbohydrate food.

Rita Black: But the trigger foods are just foods that we tend to not you know, once we begin eating them, we really don't have a lot of control over them. We can't stop at just one. And mine, mine are just to share with you Sweet Tarts. Mine are also Candy Corn, aka the Halloween candy. That is my biggest nemesis. And then my other one, probably my favorite one other than frosting, and, and I've done a whole episode on frosting. So that's, I'm not gonna get into frosting today, but I'm talking about candies today because it's Halloween, are wine gums. Do you guys know what wine gums are? Now? If you're British, you absolutely know, or if you're maybe Australian or but, or even Canadian. But wine gums are kind of like gummy bears, but you know, like, you think wine gums?

Rita Black: When I first moved to England, I moved there with my husband in the beginning of well, many, many years ago. So I lived there probably about 30 years ago at the beginning of our married life. And wine gums, I discovered them and I, people say, Oh yes, oh, I love those wine gums. And I thought they were talking about gum that was flavored, like chardonnay or Cabernet, you know. What I mean, like, and that was the, you know, like, I don't know if anybody's watching Ted Lasso, you know, which is about American coach who's over in England. And you know, he kinda highlights all the different isms between the Brits and the the Americans. But I, I'll tell you a really quick funny other thing is there's this pickle and, and in, in England, and it's a, it's a, it's a spread, you know, you put it with cheese, you eat it with cheese, it's like a dark brown, very sweet relish. Basically it's like a, a dark brown relish that has onions in it. And it's, and it's you know, it's, I don't think it does have pickle in it, but they call it pickle, right? It's like it shut me. And I worked, when I lived in England, I, I worked at a, a sandwich shop very briefly during I was a student there. So I, I had you know, like a winter break. And so I got some, you know, job. I needed some money. So I, I got a job at the sandwich shop and, and somebody came up and they'll go, Oh yeah, so, you know, I'll have a Turkey sandwich with pickle. And I thought, Oh, well, they wanted pickles in the sandwich.

Rita Black: And I went to go and you know, go to the refrigerator and look for, and I was like, Where are the pickles? And where's the pickle? Where's the pickle? And you know, the girl who was working with me was like, Oh, it's over this watch over that. Can't see it right in front of your face? And I was like, I don't see any pickle. And then she brings out this jar of brown stuff and I was like, Oh, that's pickle. So that was my introduction to pickle. And actually I really, when I lived there, loved pickle because it had sugar in it. And of course, anything with sugar stimulates my brain. But anyway, so our trigger foods, I digressed greatly. I'm sorry, I'm gonna bring you all the way back. I had my little, you know, remembrance of England. But you know, I'm bringing you back to this idea that your trigger foods are always your trigger foods.

Rita Black: And, and I think what I see people getting stuck in is, it's kind of like smokers, you know? When I work with smokers, they think that you know, sometimes people think that, you know, when you quit smoking, if you go for enough time, you know, after a while you could just have a cigarette every once in a while, right? But the problem is, in my experience with working with smokers for 20 years and being a former pack and a half a day smoker myself, is once the brain is wired with a highly addictive substance, the wires, even though they're no longer, those wires are no longer primed, those, you know, the, the wires of that habit they exist, right? So so with smokers, a lot of times they'll stop smoking and then, you know, they'll go for a year or two years or, you know, I've had smokers tell me stories.

Rita Black: They went for 20 years, and then they were like, Well, it's been 20 years. I haven't had a cigarette. I can just have a cigarette. And they smoke one, and then that part of their brain gets a little nicotine and it starts to sort of trip wire the rest of the wiring. I see this again and again and again. So, you know, when I work with smokers is like you, you know, it's, you have to understand that, you know, you smoke one, the rest smoke you. And it is really, I do see with our trigger foods, I'm not saying with all foods, not all sweet foods, but with a lot of trigger foods, it is the same sort of thing for people. So like, if I eat candy corn, the impact in my brain, you know, because my brain has been wired, I have an emotional connection to candy corn, I have a physiological connection to candy corn, and I have a history with candy corn where I have been able to sit down with two bags of candy corn and eat the whole thing and get myself into a sugar high, sugar coma, even though candy corn and me are an unhappy yoking.

Rita Black: Because obviously, all of those episodes with bags and bags of candy corn had ended up with me laying down in the sugar coma, feeling horrible and awful, and, you know, totally feeling like a fool and you know, like a loser and all that too, for not having that willpower, you know, even though I've had those memories there, it it in my mind, you know, the next year, because it's been a year, oh, this year I can manage the candy corn, right? And then I'll buy it. And then again, I'm, you know, I'm brought to my knees by Candy Corn again and again, and I'm brought to my knees by wine gums again and again. I can tell you another quick London story. So I had been on a diet and I had quit smoking. So I was a big smoker when I lived in London and as many people are. And I had quit smoking, I lost weight. I was like, okay, you know, I went, and in the underground they had like, you know, the candy shop, like the 7 11, but it was underneath in the underground. In those of you who are, you know, like in cities that have underground transportation, it's probably the same like New York, I think. I don't remember, but I know I would get off the tube and I would pass by this sort of stand that had wine gums and cigarettes. And one day I was just like, you know what? It's been so long since I've had a cigarette and so long since I've had wine gums, I'm gonna buy both. I'll just have a few wine gums and I'll just smoke a few cigarettes and I'll throw away the pack and I'll, you know, just eat a couple of wine gums and then I'll give them to my husband and, and then I'll be done with that.

Rita Black: But, you know, I just feel like I can have a couple. And of course then, you know, a, it cut to me walking down the street, like eating four wine gums all in my mouth at the same time and smoking a cigarette, and then, you know, smoking another cigarette and eating another four wine gums. And then, you know, smoking myself and eating wine gums, like, after wine gum. And it was just like, it was, you know, of course I was brought to my knees by both of the, my habits. So we really have to understand that we have a relationship. Our brain puts our wine gum in the same place in our brain as our friends and our family. There is an emotional visceral connection to our trigger foods sometimes. So it's really hard for us to really make peace with the fact that maybe we need to put those trigger foods to the back of our mind.

Rita Black: And, you know, you can, there's a million other foods, like there's so many other candies that I can have a few of and, you know, take it or leave it. Chocolate is one of those. I'm not a chocolate-aholic. I mean, I, some of you may be, but that's not something that's a problem for me. I can eat a nice piece of chocolate, be like, okay, thank you very much, that was lovely, and enjoy it mindfully and move on with my day. It doesn't haunt me and hunt me down like candy corn does. So I just wanted to have this conversation with you guys because I want to be real with you with regards to your relationship with your trigger foods and maybe starting to have a different relationship with them. So I wanted to give you a couple of tools so that they don't own you.

Rita Black: And especially if you're one of those people that around Halloween, those foods end up in your household, whether it's you buying them or your family buying them, or your kids bringing them in, in their baskets, you know, I'd like to give you a word of caution, and I don't mean to be a killjoy because I know, again, like you, it's, we, it's, it's a love hate relationship. You know, we're eating it and we're like, Why am I eating this? I don't wanna be eating this, but it is, ugh. And, you know, so there's a love hate, like, we don't want it, but we do want it. And I completely, our brains are so screwy when it comes to things like smoking. People be like, Why am I smoking the cigarette? I hate it so much. And the other part of the brain's, like, I see you love it.

Rita Black: You know, so the part of your brain that loves your trigger foods doesn't really care about your weight management, doesn't care about your happiness, doesn't care about your blood sugar, insulin levels, or that your prediabetic or that you know it, it's a problem for you. You, it's just like, I want what I want when I want it, and you're gonna give it to me. So we have to start to listen and really create a firm boundary with ourselves and our trigger foods. So one one technique I would say is to really just make your trigger foods not an option for you. And to get really clear on what they are. I think sometimes people aren't quite sure, like, is that a trigger food or is it not? So hopefully this conversation has helped you kind of ascertain like, is that, you know, is that really a problem for me? Or is that not? I mean, and if you're thinking it's a problem for you, it probably yes, but sorry, but it probably is again, don't hate me, I'm just the messenger. I am, I didn't make this up. So what I would say is creating something like a not an option zone or, and, and I'm gonna get into a way that you can have your trigger food. So don't hate me completely, but the not an option is just really clear. Because when, and, and I would just say, I am x, y, z free, like I am wine gum free, or I am candy corn free because when I say I don't wanna eat candy corns, or I don't eat candy corns, I'm trying not to eat candy corns, or I'm trying to do this Halloween without eating candy corns, that's all deprivation language in my brain.

Rita Black: And that makes me feel deprived. It makes me feel like, oh, I'm one of those dieters and I have to, but when I say I'm candy corn free in my brain, it opens up my brain. It's like, Oh, I'm free. I've chosen my freedom. I've chosen to stay clear of that stuff because I know the second I put a candy corn in my mouth, I'm not there anymore. But that other part of my brain is there saying, and now have another one, and now have another one, and now have another one. Right? So I choose my freedom. It's the same with smoking. I've been a non-smoker for 25 years. I, I've chosen that, you know, I've seen people smoking and it looked, I was like, That looks good, you know, like, I'm like you know, occasionally, most times I see people smoking, I feel so sorry for them.

Rita Black: But you know, occasionally I'll, I'll, and it hasn't been for years, but I remember in the first years of my being a non-smoker, I'll be like, Oh yeah, that looks good. But then I'd say, But, but then I would wait. If I had that cigarette, I would wake up tomorrow and then I would want another one, and then I would want another one and my mind wouldn't be my own anymore. It would be gone. And I've learned that having that freedom of my mind being clear and being aligned with myself feels so much better than eating candy corn, you know, because really, honestly, after three bites of candy corn, we don't even experience it anymore or whatever your thing is. We're then off to the races and our dopamine center is just going, and again, and again and again, remember, I don't know if you've heard me quote this study, but you know, they gave rat sugar water and they stimulated the dopamine center and the rat brain and the rat continued to drink sugar water till its stomach exploded.

Rita Black: So, you know, that part of the brain that is driving your eating, that trigger food, doesn't care about you or your health, right? You can see like, so we need to be aggressive back because that part of our brain will speak to us and it's smarter than us, right? It will say, Oh, come on, you'll just have one. Oh, come on. You know, it's, it's, it looks so good and you're gonna enjoy it. And then tomorrow you're not gonna eat it again for another year. You know, Oh, they're only here this time of year. Or you know, if you go and oh, they only have them in this part of the state, you know, whatever it is, it's it, the brain will bug you like a child that wants some money from you, right? Like, and, and if you aren't clear, like, no, that's not an option.

Rita Black: And I'm choosing to be wine gum free. Thank you very much. Now, believe me, I've had people bring me bags of wine gum from England, you know, every time people come to visit me in my house, I don't know, I tell them, don't bring me wine gums, and their brains must just absorb or bring her wine gums. Cause they bring me these bags of wine gums. And I'm like, Nope, I'm not gonna take them. Give them to my, like, get rid of these to my husband, you know? And of course then my kids end up eating them or whatever. But yeah, I'm wine gum free, and I'm a happy wine gum person until they did, until they invent wine gum that sugar free gum that tastes like wine. Maybe I would buy that. See, it's not a bad idea.

Rita Black: So now I wanna read to you from my book, from Fat to Thin Thinking, and I, I, yes, it's, I'm being lazy. It's the lazy man's way of walking you through this other tool and technique. But, you know, I think I laid out pretty well in the book, so I'm just gonna read to you from it. And this is in underneath stimulus control. So that, that's one of the skills of weight mastery is stimulus control. It's really a huge skill and people really don't seem to know that so much is that, you know, if a food, especially a trigger food is in our environment, it's gonna call her a name. It's gonna say, Hey, Rita, I'm over here, come and get me and it will wear you down. And so one really key skill is to remove those things from your environment. And, you know, and I think a lot of us think, Well, I should be able to have them in my environment. Well, why?

Rita Black: Like, really? Why, like, would an alcoholic have an open bar at their home? And, and again, I, I don't want us to think of ourselves as like, Oh, we're this person who just, you know, can't be controlled. It's no, you're a powerful person and you're a cool person and you're highly functioning person, but your brain has been wired in, in your body, has been wired in particular way around this particular food. So why the hell would you have it in your house? Why the hell would you have to have a conversation with that thing again? And again and again, it's kind of like a toxic friend, you know? Like you had a lot of fun in the beginning of the relationship, but now they're kind of bugging you, you know? And now they're bringing you down. And so why have them around, honestly, you know, get them out.

Rita Black: Respect yourself enough for doing that. Show up for yourself and love yourself. And you can have other food in your house. I'm not saying you have to strip your house bare of all goodies. I'm just saying that these foods that bring you to your knees, love and respect yourself enough to get them the hell out of your house and bring some foods in your house that you can enjoy and have in your house, right? Like, show up for yourself. So here's, now having said that, here's a way, it's called creating a love loving boundary with your trigger foods. So I'm just gonna read from the book.

Rita Black: So life is long and there will be times when you want to indulge in a pleasurable treat, including your trigger foods. How do you set your mind up for success when having that treat? Make a rule with your inner coach ahead of time about when and how much of a treat that you are going to enjoy. That treat is not an option at any other time. I call this strategy creating a loving boundary. Alan Dhar, PhD, a neurologist, or sorry, a yes, a neurologist, I read that right, at Montreal's Neurological Institute conducted a study on expectation and brain activity with regard to smoking. He measured the brain activity of smokers who were kept from smoking for four hours. One group was told that after four hours they could smoke. The other group was told they needed to continue to abstain from smoking for six more hours. The smokers who expected the cigarette after four hours began to show high levels of arousal the closer their time came to smoke. The other smokers who did not expect a cigarette showed no arousal. When the brain knows that a reward or treat will not be forthcoming, it puts the attention elsewhere. Once you make a decision about something and you are clear about that boundary, it helps your mind to say no easily.

Rita Black: So here's, and and this definitely happens with smokers. Like I ask, ask them all the time. I say, you know, when you get on a plane and go, are you okay? Even though they might be a very heavy smoker, yes, I'm fine, you know, I might think about the cigarette, but it's not an option in my mind. Does, you know, forgets about it and moves on to something else. So here's how to do it step by step. Identify the trigger food. This should be easy. It's the one you can't stop eating. Think of what a single serving would be in both amount and calories. If you're, you know, if that's your thing. And make sure that it allows you to you know, make sure that that is a real serving. It's not like a multiple serving, but a real serving because you don't wanna eat too much.

Rita Black: You don't wanna trigger your brain. And now think of an environment in which it will be safe to eat a single serving. This environment is one that you have not had a stimulus control issue in. So like I wouldn't advise in your car, I wouldn't advise in your home. You wanna take it outside your house. So create a limit how, on how often you might enjoy your trigger food in this setting. Create a limit. It keeps you from overindulging or abusing the boundary. Like for instance, you say your trigger food is ice cream. If you can't stop eating the ice cream until the carton is empty, our stimulus control strategy would keep ice cream out of your house. But what if you wanna be able to enjoy its creamy goodness every once in a while? You can create a new loving boundary with ice cream.

Rita Black: For example, a loving boundary for ice cream might be once a week I can have a scoop of my favorite at the ice cream parlor, right? Or your local ice cream store. So you're sitting and eating it there, or you know, outside, on the street, but you aren't taking it into your home and you're not buying a carton. You are giving yourself something you enjoy, but in a moderate and measured way outside your environment. So that is a way that you can create your loving boundary around your trigger foods.

Rita Black: So I hope with this Halloween season or any season that you might be, that you have found this helpful conversation. So this Halloween, don't buy candy. That is your trigger. Do yourself a loving favor. And if you have kids and they bring that trigger food home, just, you know, have them keep their candy out of sight, out of mind from you, right? Stimulus control. You might even have a little mantra for yourself. You might have a mantra for yourself that says, you know, it's my kids' candy, not mine. Or, I don't wear my kids' clothes and I don't eat their candy either, right? So just keep it out of sight, out of mind. Practice stimulus control. Practice. It's not an option. And you know, if you wanna have a tootsy roll, if that's your thing, your trigger food, you know, have a tootsy roll, but not in your home, not in your car, somewhere out and, you know, have one, enjoy it. Be mindful of it. And I would also advise having it not on an empty stomach, because that will even trip-wire your brain more quickly, but have it after a meal. Okay? All right, everybody, I hope you have a wonderful time. If you are celebrating Halloween, a powerful time. I love getting dressed up. It is fun. That is one thing I do every year or I try to do, especially I like to dress up and answer the door, go out walking in the neighborhood. But definitely pick up that sugar cravings hypnosis session if you haven't already. And have an amazing week and Halloween.

Rita Black: And remember that the key and probably the only key to unlocking the door of the weight struggle is inside you. So keep listening and find it. Do you wanna dive deeper into the mindset of long term weight release? Head on over to www shift weight mastery.com. That's www shift weight mastery.com, where you'll find numerous tools and resources to help you unlock your mind for permanent weight release tips, strategies, and more. And be sure to check the show notes to learn more about my book from Fat To Thinking. Unlock Your Mind for Permanent Weight Loss.