I have recently been reading online posts from people concerned about overeating during this holiday. Holidays associated with candy, treats and yummy food can be tough for many. You worry about not being able to say no to those treats and goodies. Holidays can be a particular struggle for those with eating issues. Maybe you have lost weight and don’t want to go backwards, or you are worried about eating the right foods and holiday food definitely seem like “bad” foods. I am not a dietician or a nutritionist, so I cannot talk to you about calories associated with holiday foods. I am a counselor and I do know there are a lot of emotions that get triggered on holidays that can affect your food choices. Family issues may drive feelings of anger or loss. Personal issues may drive feelings of loneliness or fear. There is also the fact that there might be a lot of food staring at you and you feel like you have to just go for it.
Here are some suggestions to help you keep a little more centered at a holiday meal.
1) Identify physical hunger vs. emotional hunger. Check in with yourself to notice what is going on. Often people go to a holiday meal famished and overeat because they are too physically hungry. Being overly hungry is a strategy for failure for someone who has a tendency to binge eat. Honor your hunger and feed yourself when you are physically hungry. Not letting yourself get overly hungry is such a great strategy for the holidays (and any other time).
2) If you find you are not physically hungry, but still want to eat, consider that you are emotionally hungry. Emotional hunger comes from transferring feelings you have onto the thought of hunger- not true physical hunger. Acknowledge to yourself that you are not physically hungry and wonder to yourself what might be going on. Possibly you feel lonely or hurt and are misinterpreting those as physical hunger. Ask yourself what you need to do to address the feeling. Some options are:
a) Take a short walk to get away from a situation.
b) Take a deep breath to regroup.
c) Talk to a supportive person about your feelings.
These strategies will slow you down to see what is actually going on. If you are physically hungry- then eat. If you are emotionally hungry- take care of the emotion. These suggestions work for those who binge eat only at the holidays and for those who may binge eat more frequently.
Kim McLaughlin, LMFT is a licensed therapist (MFC27667) providing counseling services in the Roseville, CA area. This blog is not meant to be a substitute for mental health treatment, counseling, or therapy. If you are in need of mental health services seek out a licensed therapist at www.counselingcalifornia.com or contact Kim McLaughlin, LMFT for assistance. You can see more about Kim and the services she offers on her website www.feedyoursoultherapy.com.
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