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Reshaping Your Health: Coping with Triggers

Everyone encounters a few bumps on the road to better health. We call them triggers, and even the most determined person has them.

Triggers are the emotions or scenarios that make you act in conflict with your goals, often without even thinking about it. Maybe your trigger is stress, and it causes you to eat more than you should or skip the gym. Or maybe your trigger is a friend who persuades you to order appetizers and desserts each time you go to dinner.

Whatever your unique triggers are, the trick to overcoming them is to be mindful of them, and to make a plan for how you will deal with them when they arise.

“Most people don’t even know what all of their triggers are,” says Danielle Repko, an American Council on Exercise-certified health coach with OhioHealth Group. “I always tell people to write them down when they pop up. Reflect on why you acted the way you did, and plan ahead for the next time it happens. If mozzarella sticks are your weakness, make a plan to split your order with friends. Or if you always order a scone with your coffee, eat a healthier breakfast before you go to the coffee shop.”

We’ve pulled together a list of common triggers and ways to cope with them. You can also download our triggers worksheet to help you track your specific triggers and come up with your own ideas for overcoming them. Add this worksheet to your overall diabetes prevention action plan.


  • Learn the signs of hunger and how to keep it in check
  • Keep healthy snacks with you to eat throughout the day and keep your hunger at bay
  • Use smaller plates to avoid overeating

Cravings or temptations

  • Limit yourself to a small portion
  • Only keep healthy foods around you, dispose of foods you know will tempt you
  • Devise alternate routes around your workplace and in your commute to steer clear of vending machines and fast food
  • Don’t clip coupons for unhealthy items and skip the aisles at the store that have them

Bored or lonely feelings

  • Make plans with family or friends
  • Take a class or join an organization you’re interested in
  • Attend local events, go for a walk or participate in activities that keep you busy

Afraid of waste

  • Cook smaller portions
  • Split up large meals into smaller portions and store them in the fridge or freezer for another time
  • Give extra food away — your health is more important than a few bites

Stress, anxiety or depression

  • Ask others for help
  • Seek the advice of a professional
  • Practice deep breathing techniques
  • Reschedule your plans and try again another time

It’s important to try not to see triggers as moments of failure. Instead, look at them as learning opportunities — you’ll get to know yourself better through the process and gain greater control over your behaviors and ultimately your health.

And if you need extra help, join an official Diabetes Prevention Program!

“It’s extremely helpful to be part of a group committed to making a change,” says Stephanie, a Diabetes Prevention Program participant. “Sometimes we don’t share a lot of what we’re going through with family and friends because we’re afraid or ashamed of the position we’re in. But this is a nonjudgment zone. What’s said here and done here stays here.”

Check with your employer (OhioHealth offers a program for associates), your local YMCA or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s list of recognized locations to find a program near you.


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