How To Overcome Holiday Overeating Triggers
Did you know that between Halloween and New Year’s Day the average American gains a whopping 6 pound??
During the holidays we are bombarded with food. No wonder we indulge here, take a bite there, order an extra to take home and all of a sudden our pants are tight.
Do you identify with any of these holiday overeating triggers?
Seasonal Foods – Examples include all the pumpkin spice, peppermint mocha, gingerbread, pecan, cinnamon, We feel like since these foods define the season and are only available for a limited time, we should indulge.
Getting Food as Gifts – How many times do people give you food as a gift? We feel like we have to eat these foods to avoid being rude and to take advantage of free food, right? How many times do you open the container and eat one as soon as you receive the gift?
Memories around certain foods/traditions – Do you have memories of making sugar cookies with your mother? Buying streudel at the Christmas show? Making mac/cheese for your son when he visits?
Through the years most of us develop a connection between the holidays and certain foods. This will make it OK for you to eat or overeat.
Since I work with emotional eaters I have to mention stress during this time of year and how that triggers many of us to eat or drink. There is pressure to buy the perfect gift, make the perfect meal, clean the house, and decorate. There is stress around lack of finances for the gifts you want or disagreements with spouses over how much to spend. And let’s talk about family stress: There’s a reason they say fish and house guests stink after 3 days. If being with your family is driving you nuts, eating or drinking is a common coping mechanism.
So now I am going to share with you the number one way you can avoid waking up in January with regret and shame about how you ate/drank through the holidays 2020.
You have to have a plan!
Going into the holidays with thoughts like
“I’ll do better this year.”
“I’ll just start logging food in January.”
“I probably won’t gain that much.”
Vague plans like these are setting yourself up for failure. So grab a pen and paper and I am going to help you devise your own holiday survival eating plan in just 5 minutes.
I’m going to share some tips for your consideration.
Pick and choose what you think will work for you.
At other times of the year I definitely have foods that I do not eat. These are unhealthy foods that I have personally decided not to indulge in. Do you have those? But during the holidays, I allow myself to eat any food/drink that I WANT to eat/drink HOWEVER I limit my serving size to one. So I measure out the serving or if that is not possible I eyeball it.
If you are an all or nothing eater this will work well for you. Give yourself permission to eat it. But set a limit so that you don’t eat half the package. This is called setting loving limits for yourself.
Loving limits are self-care, not self-deprivation.
Allowing yourself to eat as much as you want without feeling guilt, shame or regret is a great strategy for the holiday.
Here’s another tip you may want to adopt
I will eat anything I want but only if I am hungry and I will not stuff myself or overeat.
Just that strategy alone will serve you well. So anytime you are offered food, tempted to purchase it when shopping, stop at the coffee shop for a seasonal latte – pause and ask if you are hungry. If the answer is no, then skip it or take it and wait until you are hungry. If you are hungry and you choose to eat the food, be mindful as you eat and stop before you feel stuffed.
This is another example of setting loving limits for yourself.
Here’s a tip that I use ALL the time and not just during the holiday season. This time of year we typically see lots of foods that we have never had before. If you see a food that looks absolutely delicious but tastes average, don’t waste your calories! Throw it away or give it away.
I’m not going to finish my plate of hot crab dip if it is flavorless and cold. Too often we continue and eat the whole serving. Do we think bite 5 will be better than bite 1? Who knows. Just sayin…don’t waste calories on foods that just taste average.
My next tip is for those that exercise regularly. Seems like when we are pushed for time, exercise is the first thing to go. If you want to prevent holiday weight gain this has to change. Remember, the more calories you burn in a day, the more calories you can eat without gaining weight. Exercise has to remain a priority during this time of year.
Since I know that you are probably challenged to continue your normal workout routine I’m going to share with you my favorite online workouts on YouTube. You can do these at home with little equipment and vary the intensity for what fits your fitness level.
Another tip is for those who like accountability. If you enjoy having someone see what you ate, know how much you weigh or meet you to workout then set this up for yourself during the holiday.
Some people set up accountability for themselves and some set it up with a partner.
Accountability for yourself can include a weekly weigh-in or logging your food into an app like My Fitness Pal.
Accountability with a partner can include weekly weigh-ins, partner workouts, sharing your food diary or checking in with each other on days you are concerned about.
Before I go let’s talk about how to handle emotional eating during the holidays. Step one is to recognize that you are using food as a coping mechanism to handle stress, anxiety, boredom, etc. Remind yourself that if you are _________ (fill in the blank with any emotion) and you eat, food will only be a temporary distractor.
Ask yourself what it is that you really need instead of food or alcohol.
For example, maybe you are overwhelmed and you need help. Ask your kids to chip in.
You are lonely and feeling sad. Call a friend you haven’t talked to in a while.
You are feeling exhausted. Go take a 20 minute break.
You are feeling stressed. Go take a hot bath alone.
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