Holiday Eating Tips
The holidays are a challenging time if you struggle with food and weight. Every event seems to be centered around great food.
Wouldn't it be great to be able to enjoy the holidays without regretting what you ate?
Food is not a solution
Around the holidays food is where everyone connects. It's part of family traditions and celebrations.
Sometimes excess food is way to calm yourself in stressful situations. If it becomes habit, food becomes a way to cope or hide feelings you don't want to face.
The holidays can be especially hard with all that extra food around. Getting clear on what makes you overeat is the first step in changing it.
Reasons to overeat
- Holidays bring up painful memories causing you to numb out.
- Holidays can trigger grief over loved ones who've past.
- Not taking care of yourself so food becomes "your thing."
- Hating your body or not wanting to be in your body.
- Difficulty socializing in groups.
- Unresolved family issues that get triggered.
The American Psychological Association says that 39% of adults have overeaten or eaten unhealthy foods because of stress. You're not the only one! Food is comfort and relieves stress because it's warm and it's soothing. There may be happy memories around eating sugary or starchy foods.
A secret life
Using excess food can lead to isolation. It's tough to enjoy the holidays when you're binging. Overeating makes being in the moment impossible because the your focus becomes obsessing over food or weight.
You blame yourself - "I can't believe I did this again!"
And those thoughts spiral into shame, secrecy and self-hate. Feeling fat makes socializing difficult. You hate how you look. The holidays become focused around food and that holiday dress you can't fit into anymore.
That is no way to do the holidays.
You can have a happier, more peaceful holiday. Addressing the underlying issues of overeating is important so that you can find healthy alternatives.
- Do you use food to calm yourself?
- Are there events that make you want to numb out with food?
- Does feeling full distract you from living your life?
- Once you start eating certain foods do you notice you can't stop?
If food is a problem, you are not alone.
As a kid, food is the first substance you have access to. Maybe family members ate compulsively too. Addictive patterns are encouraged (unknowingly) when you're forced to "clean your plate" or stuff feelings that family doesn't want to hear about.
You may think it's not a problem because your weight is normal. Compulsive eating is not about the food or weight but the inability to handle life and deal effectively with emotions. Having the skills to handle life is part of the recovery process.
One part of recovery from food issues is learning the tools to handle stress. Stopping a behavior is tough but replacing it with something else is easier because you give your brain anther focus. Here are a few suggestions.
- Keep a journal to write out stressful feelings.
- Get regular exercise to increase endorphins.
- Find support with your eating or stress.
- Practice mediation - even if it's just focusing on your breath.
- Keep your commitments reasonable to avoid overwhelm.
- Join a support group like Overeaters Anonymous for additional help.
Tips for overeating
- Plan ahead what you'll eat.
- Offer to bring healthy dishes.
- Eat lighter and exercise on party days.
- Don't go to a party hungry.
- Find a buddy for mutual support.
- Bring a healthy treat with you.
- Ask what's on the menu and plan accordingly.
- Keep a food journal to track progress.
Diets works if you work them. Unfortunately our culture has a "willpower mentality" when it comes to food issues. As if just stopping alone will fix it.
There are reasons you use food and once you deal with those directly and get the right support, your eating habits can change.
But if you find that you can't stick to a diet, you may need support. I highly recommend Overeaters Anonymous. It's a free support group if you have issues with food. There are no requirements and they have sponsors that can guide you and be a great support to you!