The holidays are a fun and festive time of year, but they can also be a very stressful time. As a result, the holidays can bring up both positive and negative emotions. Since emotional eaters eat in response to their emotions, the holidays may be a major trigger for your emotional eating.
You may also overeat over the holidays out of habit. Holidays mean dinner parties, dessert trays, cookies, chocolate and more! Instead of eating mindlessly, becoming more conscious and aware of what you’re eating can make the difference between simply enjoying holiday food and bingeing.
I love to eat and the holidays have no short supply of food. To prevent emotional eating and enjoy holiday eating, I like to come up with a plan to enjoy holiday eating without overeating and binge eating. Here is my plan for how emotional eaters can enjoy holiday eating:
1. Choose foods you truly enjoy
Know your favourite foods and if they’re there, enjoy them! Skip out of candy or other foods that you don’t think look or taste great. If something isn’t a 10/10 in my books, I pass on it and don’t think twice about it. But if something is my absolute favourite, I definitely take a reasonable portion and savour each bite! With this strategy, you’re less likely to overeat because you’ve gotten pleasure out of your favourite foods but you haven’t filled up on stuff that didn’t give you much pleasure.
2. Don’t mindlessly eat things you don’t care about
Around the holidays, you may feel more pressure to accept and consume food that’s been offered to you by others. If this sounds like you, remember not to eat mindlessly. Take a moment before you eat to consider if you’ve chosen this food to eat or if you feel like you should be eating it to be polite. It’s okay to decline food you don’t want to eat and won’t really enjoy. Being mindful of what you’re eating can really help to avoid overeating.
3. Don’t restrict your eating
One approach that emotional eaters often use is to create a list of restrictions and try sticking to it only to fail. If you go to a party telling yourself you’re not eating any sweets at all, you’re more likely to binge the next time you do allow yourself those foods. Instead, don’t put any food off limits. Enjoy reasonable portions of foods you really enjoy and leave anything that you wouldn’t rate a 9 or 10/10. By getting rid of restrictions, you’re giving yourself permission to eat and this can make a huge difference in managing overeating and bingeing.
4.Recognize your emotions
As I mentioned, the holidays can bring up both positive and negative emotions. Taking the time to recognize negative emotions during the holidays can help you to deal with them in a healthy way rather than coping with emotional eating. And you may associate holiday food with positive emotions which can still be a trigger for overeating. So be cautious by recognizing what you’re feeling and trying to separate that emotion from food.
5. Prioritize self care
Last but certainly not least, it’s really important to prioritize self care over the holidays. When you’re tired, you tend to overeat. Part of this is due to hormone imbalances but stress can trigger emotional eating. One of the best ways to manage emotional eating over the holidays is to stick to a regular self care routine. Whether this means fitting in physical activity, rest or time alone, taking care of yourself is necessary for managing emotional eating. And this doesn’t just apply to the holidays, but to any time of the year!
By following this simple plan, you don’t have to stress this holiday season about food. Even if you’re an emotional eater, you can enjoy holiday eating too! The holidays don’t have to mean bingeing or overeating, but simply enjoying the time with friends and family – and a few desserts along the way.