The holidays are upon us! For most, it’s a joyous time filled with family, friends, and love! But, for others, it can be a very stressful time that leads directly to emotional eating. Maybe you have some uncomfortable family relationships that create turmoil (and they’re all coming over for dinner!). Perhaps the busy-ness of the season overwhelms you. Or, maybe you’ve lost a loved one which makes this a very difficult time of year. All of these situations, and more, can lead to drowning your emotions in food. But, it doesn’t have to be this way.
Here are 5 keys to controlling emotional eating. Put these things into practice during this holiday season, and beyond.
- Get support. Find someone you can talk to during this stressful time of year. When you feel like attacking the bag of Oreos, pick up the phone instead and share your thoughts and feelings with your confidant. In fact, having a daily conversation with your friend would be advisable during stressful times.
- Check your nutrition. If you are feeling depressed and agitated, sad and frustrated, it could be that your nutrition needs some fine tuning. All of those emotions can lead to emotional eating. It’s a vicious cycle. But, you can begin to control those negative emotions by loading your body up with living foods like fresh fruits and veggies. Living foods will even out your moods, give you energy, and make you happier. They give you vitamins, antioxidants, and all the good stuff your body needs to function properly. So, focus on loading up with whole foods, as close to nature as possible. Oh, and don’t forget the water!
- Step away from the kitchen. When you feel the urge to eat when you’re not hungry, avoid the kitchen. Instead, walk yourself outside! Go get some fresh air. Walk around the block. Move your body, and I promise the urge to eat will pass. If you get back home and you still feel the need to eat (even though you’re really not hungry), walk around the block again. This will reduce stress and increase the happy endorphins in your body. And, you’ll burn some calories, too!
- Indulge in goodness. Load your kitchen up with all good, healthy things. That way, if you feel the urge to eat for emotional reasons, you’ll have to grab the bag of carrots or the carton of strawberries! Then, at least, you’ll be putting good stuff in your body instead of the not-so-good stuff. And, those good things are sure to improve your mood.
- Get to the heart of the matter. What is causing your emotional eating? What emotions are you trying to suppress and why? How long have you been engaging in this behavior? What triggers it? How do you feel when you are eating for reasons other than hunger? Journal about this. Talk it out with a counselor or coach. Pray about it. Really analyze your behavior and determine healthier ways to address your emotions. (Healthier ways could include physical activity, listening to music, meditating, praying, reading a book, journaling, talking it out, getting a massage…you get the idea.)
So, the next time you feel like stuffing your emotions with food, use one of these keys to begin to overcome that detrimental behavior. The holidays can be hard, but you can make it through, AND be happier and healthier when the New Year begins!