Do you love holidays but secretly dread the stress? Are you worried that you’ll devour mashed potatoes, apple pie and Christmas cookies to ease your holiday worries? You aren’t alone.
Shopping, cleaning, cooking, baking, traveling and socializing – the holidays can make the last two months of the year a stressful time, and for many of us, it’s easy to turn to food to relieve our anxiety. Especially in this time of the pandemic and COVID variants.
The definition of Emotional Eating is when we turn to food to soothe and suppress negative feelings such as:
There are a lot of triggers during the holiday season. Let’s talk about some of them and come up with strategies that don’t include food. I’ll empower you with some “quick fixes”.
Last-Minute Shopping – Does holiday shopping really stress you out? Worrying about COVID? Wearing a mask? Exhausted from fighting crowds at the mall, anxiety over finding the perfect gift and managing a budget?
- Try this quick fix – sit down, while out shopping, and give yourself a foot massage. Take your shoe off, place your foot over a tennis ball and rub your feet, one at a time over the top of the ball until they feel relaxed.
- You can also massage an essential oil such as lavender or peppermint on the soles of your foot. Very soothing for your tired feet.
- Some malls have chair massages, indulge and get one for yourself.
Stress of staying on your weight loss program – with all of the edible temptations it can be very stressful trying to stay on plan.
- Commit to being mindful – slow down and pay attention to what you are eating
- Here’s your quick fix – Eat, drink but be mindful! This should be your mantra. If you feel that you have to indulge, use the one day one pass plan. When you are ready to eat something, sit down. Put aside whatever you are doing. When you eat, just eat. Tune into the texture, temperature, smells and flavor of every bite.
- Snack Healthy – What are your favorite healthy snacks?
- If you feel the need to eat between meals, choose a good, healthy snack
- Better to indulge with an extra Ideal Protein snack rather than junk food
- Cut up an Ideal Protein bar into little pieces and put it in the freezer. If you must eat extra, use the bar
- Use Ideal Protein chips – measure them out if you are adding an extra – half a bag rather than the whole
- Eat extra veggies – like cucumbers with a Walden Farms dip (0 calories, 0 carbs, 0 fat)
- Use zero calorie, zero sugar water enhancers and make a slushie or use the Ideal Protein Branched Chain Amino Acids.
- The Ideal Protein Orange drink and Peach Mango drink are excellent extra choices if you must. Try making popsicles out of them.
- Make gummies out of the Ideal Protein Raspberry jello or blueberry crangranata
- Add some spices to your foods – curry, cinnamon, ginger are great for satisfying some cravings
FAMILY DRAMA! I’m sure no one has any family drama! Do you have to choose between your parent’s house and your in-laws? Fearful that someone will be hurt or mad? Sometimes it feels impossible to please everyone and that can make us turn to mindless munching to soothe ourselves. Spending time with relatives who know how to push your buttons is another infamous trigger of emotional eating.
- Here’s a quick fix: Instead of heading to the kitchen when your mother calls for the fifth time, close your eyes for a moment. Picture yourself sitting in a movie theater watching your personal holiday comedy play out in front of you. Trying to observe the situation from a distance can help lessen the intensity of what you are feeling and can help you detach.
- Phone a friend! Share the humor in your situation. Laughter is contagious and is great medicine.
Overwhelmed! – too much to do and not enough time. Shopping, wrapping gifts, mailing cards, stuffing the turkey, special baking, making travel arrangements, shopping, decorating – so many things on our to do lists than can leave us feeling frazzled and craving sweets!
- Quick fix – mindless eating soothes our nerves by numbing out our emotions. It gives us a quick fix or reward, allowing us to zone out from all the holiday commotion.
- Instead, try a quick breathing exercise. Mindful breathing deters you from eating because it is a natural way to bring down your cortisol levels, the stress hormone that makes you crave food. Close your eyes, breathe in through your nose for the count of 4, hold the breath for 4 and breath out of your mouth for a count of 8. Try this 10 times and you will be amazed at how it calms you.
Anniversary Effect – specific dates can bring up memories of lost loved ones and happier times. This year is particularly hard for me because last Thanksgiving was the last time we were all together with my Mom. We lost her just before Christmas. I’m actually dreading Thanksgiving. It is easy to get buried in sad memories from past holidays. And COVID may have kept you from your loved ones as well.
- Quick fix – when you find yourself heading to the food to soothe your woes, try “laughing yoga” a form of yoga from India. It based on the idea that laugher releases positive, feel-good neurotransmitters throughout your body, even when created artificially. Laughter can relieve tension in your shoulders and abdomen. And it is contagious! Get your kids to do it with you! Even if you feel silly doing it, it is great for you. Give yourself a big jolly ho-ho-ho Santa laugh. Repeat until you find yourself smiling, even if it is just because you feel silly.
Holiday Cheer – Emotional and mindless eating isn’t just caused by stress. Good feelings can also prompt you to overeat. Holiday nibbling may actually be a way of holding on to blissful emotions like watching your kids’ faces light up as they decorate the tree. Unfortunately, eating like this will take us off of our plans and then we will end up feeling bad about it.
- Quick fix: If you love decorating the tree or hanging wreathes, buy an evergreen scented candle. Save it and only light it when you have a food craving. Smelling, unlike your other senses, directly taps into the brain structures that mediate emotions. A pleasant holiday scent is your best bet for creating calorie-free good feelings.
Holiday stress is like airplane turbulence. Remember, you have to put the oxygen mask on yourself before you can help anyone else. It’s inevitable, sometimes the ride is bumpier than others, and you have to find a healthy way to cope with it while it lasts. This season, help yourself truly enjoy the holidays by conquering emotional overeating with a few simple quick fix techniques.
Learn more about Jennifer Seven, Owner of 7Company Weight Loss & Wellness Center here