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Concerned about Holiday Overeating?

The holidays invite us to overeat. Here are some tips to look at holiday eating in a new way.

I have recently been reading online posts from people concerned about overeating during this holiday season. Holidays associated with candy, treats and yummy food can be tough for many.

We worry about not being able to say 'no' to those treats and goodies. Holidays can particularly be a struggle for those with eating issues.

Maybe you have lost weight and don’t want to go backwards? Maybe you worry about eating the right foods and therefore label the holiday menu as having "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 trigger poor holidays food choices. Family issues may drive feelings of anger or loss. Personal issues may drive feelings of fear or loneliness.

Also you may have to deal with all of that 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 during holiday meals.

Identify physical hunger vs. emotional hunger:

Take a deep breath and check in with yourself to notice your intentions. Are you feeling physical hunger? 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).

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 identifty to your motives. 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:

• Take a short walk to get away from a situation and strategize better options.

• Take a deep breath to regroup and center yourself.

• Talk to a supportive person about your feelings.

These strategies will slow you down to to help you determine if you are physically hungry or emotionally hungry. If you are physically hungry — then eat. If you are emotionally hungry — take care of that emotion. These suggestions work for those who binge eat only during the holidays and for those who frequently may binge eat.   

Kim McLaughlin, LMFT is a licensed therapist (MFC27667) providing counseling services in the Roseville area. She specializes in counseling services for people with binge eating, compulsive eating or eating disorders.

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 or contact McLaughlin for assistance.

Get McLaughlin's Free Report called Strategies to End Binge Eating here.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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