The holidays are usually looked upon as a time of celebration and fun. However, for a variety of reasons you can find yourself feeling down instead of up and these feelings can be magnified during the season of celebration. For some these emotional downs can lead to unhealthy eating which can be more excessive during the holidays.
Although researchers have found that some causes of obesity are related to biological functions, our psychological profile has a lot to do with it as well. Many people who suffer from depression, for example, complain of feeling “empty,” and while they mean that from an emotional perspective, they often try to fill that void with food. Loneliness, sadness, anger, grief, and similar emotions often have us turning to food for comfort, and of course many of us celebrate with food (and alcohol in a lot of cases), as well. So the emotional tie we have with food is a strong one.
If the emptiness is intensified during the holidays, this emptiness can be more difficult to bear.
When you are trying to lose weight, you need to be in a positive place in your head. Your mindset is one of the most important ingredients in your weight loss success, so if you are going through a difficult time emotionally, now might not be a good time to decide to lose weight, or give up smoking, or drinking alcohol. The temptation to eat too much, or smoke or drink is often at its strongest when you are feeling depressed.
Going to holiday parties with exposure to more food and drink can be a no win situation if you are on a weight management program and succumb to the temptation to eat or imbibe something you shouldn’t, you are just going to increase your depression by feeling that you have “stuffed it all up”.
Tips for keeping it together
Understanding how your emotions can impact any weight management program is one thing; coping with those emotions is another especially during the holidays. So here are some tips to help the next time you feel like eating the holiday food that you shouldn’t:
- Find and talk to a friend – the diversion will take your mind off the food and you will feel better for having talked to someone you like.
- Indulge in some meditation or breathing techniques. Research tells us that the desire to have something is only short lived. If you are able to calm your mind through meditation or breathing deeply and slowly, then you are less likely to reach for the extra food items
- Start your eating with a healthy snack like chopped celery, carrots, or fruit
- Decide to create a sampler plate with small portions of the things that you really, really want, but avoid going back for seconds and eat and chew the food slowly so that you enjoy the flavor to its fullest.
- Drink water as much as possible to help with your digestion as well as feel the “empty space” with something that is good for your health.
- No matter what might be getting you down, find one positive thing to focus on as you eat and focus on just getting the nourishment you need to be at your optimal health
Finally, there are some times when you just have to have something you know is not for the best, but again, don’t eat more than one or two small portions of it; and don’t beat yourself up about having it either.
Emotions and Food
It is important for you to understand that although for most of us food and emotions have a strong connection; it doesn’t have to get the best of you during the holiday season. If you find it really difficult to handle those emotional issues that are triggers for your eating, then you might do best to eat what you know is healthy before going out and focus on other things besides eating when you attend social functions.
Alcohol like red wine can be good for you in small doses as it is said to help improve your memory and reduces your risk of heart disease. 1 – 2 glasses per day. But watch beers and spirits as they often have high sugar contents. So, if you indulge do so in moderation.
Finally, laughter is a healing activity. So buy yourself a small joke book or record some of your favorite comedians on your cell phone mp3 player and take it along to your holiday activities. If you find yourself feeling down, take out the book and read several jokes or listen to your recordings until you find that you mood is lifting.
Enjoy the holiday season and some of your favorite dishes but not in excess!