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Calorie Count Blog

Fight Emotional Eating During the Holiday Season


By +Carolyn Richardson on Nov 22, 2011 10:00 AM in Healthy Eating

Studies mention shorter days and longer nights or physiological reactions to colder weather as contributors to weight gain during the holiday season, but another factor is in play.  Anxiety over gatherings with friends and family, gift-giving, or other end-of-year stressors could spell trouble for emotional eaters.  With the abundance of heartier food around, emotional eating could spiral out of control and pack on pounds that were lost in previous months.  Before you give in to eating to quell the added pressure of the holidays, consider these strategies to alleviate emotional eating during the holidays.
 

Own Your Issues

While the mass media is awash with a happy-go-lucky view of the holiday season, for some, memories of lost loved ones, family conflicts or financial distress is especially hard to deal with this time of year. Eating cannot solve any of these problems. Whether it’s fresh on your mind or happened years ago, give yourself alone time to think through your issues. Before you have to face uncomfortable interactions, including conversations, questions, and demands you may not feel equipped to address, think about how you can avoid overextending yourself physically and emotionally.  By owning your weaknesses and limitations, you’ll get comfort from facing your truth.  

The Me-First Attitude

You come first. Despite the call to duty that many answer during the holidays, getting to the New Year with a smile on your face means taking care of you. That includes meeting your basic needs.  It sounds simple, but during this time children, spouses, friends and even co-workers have a myriad of demands to be met. Instead of letting them dictate your entire to-do list, ask yourself what you would like during this time. Whether it’s taking a long drive, buying a sweater, or redecorating your bedroom, think about how to satisfy your needs.  As my grandmother would say, a closed mouth does not get fed.  Give other people the opportunity to feed your needs.

Set Your Own Boundaries

Whether or not you are overweight, being around loved ones could also mean hearing a lot of unsolicited advice. Whether it’s what or how much you should or should not be eating or something totally unrelated to food, set your own boundaries for conversation beforehand. Some people are bound to bring up negativity, but you don't have to play that game. Come up with a strategy to keep things as light as possible. Think of positive memories to reflect on or present neutral topics that are easy to hold people’s attention.

Don’t Get Bored
 
While it’s easier said than done, plan to avoid boredom. Whether you become the board game coordinator or arm wrestle referee, take advantage of the social setting of the holidays and plan to do something that is fun and exciting throughout the day. Adding a little exercise into the festivities is ideal, but you can also add trivia, storytelling, or a museum outing into the day to get you away from the table. By keeping your mind occupied on good times, you’ll enjoy yourself more and leave emotional eating behind.


Your thoughts…

What people or things trigger emotional eating during the holiday season?



Comments


"Eating cannot solve any of these problems." BUT IT DOES FEEL THAT WAY SOMETIMES.



Original Post by: design201

"Eating cannot solve any of these problems." BUT IT DOES FEEL THAT WAY SOMETIMES.


Yes, I'm sorry to admit, you are SO right about that; but in my case, I always end up feeling worse when I use food for comfort or relaxation, etc.; so if I just remember keep that in mind, then I CAN resist.  Best wishes!



I've put too much effort into weight loss since July 2011 to let this upcoming gathering lead me off track. There are good tips in here. I think every time I feel stressed about something, I'm going to head for the glass of water. I may be the most hydrated person at Thanksgiving!



I plan to have a big glass of water before the meal, and also to take smaller bites and put down my fork between bites.  THAT should slow me down!  (I think eating too fast is a really big part of eating too much, and it is one of my weak points).  Enjoy, everyone!



Original Post by: design201

"Eating cannot solve any of these problems." BUT IT DOES FEEL THAT WAY SOMETIMES.


I disagree. It never feels like anything is solved when I emotionally eat because the problems are still there, and then I just ADDED the problem of overeating and being full/sick feeling. as well as GUILT.

Why cause yourself more problems when you can eat healthy and not overdo it? That way, even if other things are chaotic in your life, you still have control over your health.



I agree with both of you.  It feels good at the time but once its gone... my guilt takes over. (like thinking the Big Mac was a good idea last weekend then afterwards I felt so angry at myself...  )   Was it worth it?   no.



I just started Calorie Counter on October 23rd and I have already lost 12 pounds. Laughing I'm hoping these results will keep me motivated throughout  the Holidays.



I have had trouble knowing when I am full at gatherings where I cant count the calories but think I am choosing the right portions and food items.  A couple years ago I had a trainer tell me to try Glucomannan 575mg, and to take 3 30 - 45 min before eating to promote the feeling of fullnes.  That comes to 5 calories.  Again, I only use this when I cant count the calories.  The bottle of 180 casules has lasted me up to this thanksgiving - a couple years - and expires this month.



I agree, I have been doing WW for over a year, trying it online, but haven't been on track since September after a weight loss of 50 lbs.  I'm finding myself slipping into old habits, stress and boredom.  Craving sweets.

This site is giving me alot of emotional support.  I haven't been counting calories, is there a chart?  I haven't been using my droid phone to it's potential with the site, but the forum threads are great.  Just have to find the time to learn.

I am 67 years old, do water aerobics, 5 days a week and walk, ride my bike, but only recreational.  I am sagging, not toned, and am worried that when the last 20 or 30 pounds come off the fat will just hang.  I have bad knees so, I don't do some aerobic exercises, although we dance often.  I am 5'1" and wear a 12 petite, my clothes, all new, fit well and people say I look great.  I have been working more at staying where I am, but the charts say 20 - 30 more, like my teenage weight.  Since I am past menopause it is harder.  The batwing arms are pretty normal for people my age, but the belly fat and flabby thighs, I don't care for.  Thanks, I know this is long, my first post.  Judy

 

 

 



Comment Removed

There's a different kind of emotional eating we rarely get advice on: Happy Eating.

I tend to eat more when I'm with my family because I'm happy, relaxed, not worrying so much about having to lose weight, and feeling good about myself. Often when I feel good about my current body and my fitness I allow myself to eat at maintenance or a little higher, rather than for a deficit.

This is fine for one day, but when visiting family, or spending the weekend with my husband, this can go on for two, three, four days... Definitely putting a hold on weight loss for a while. Undecided

So what are some helpful tips for people who eat more out of happiness rather than stress or depression? I would appreciate the advice!

-Maddy



Original Post by: wimmiediddle

I've put too much effort into weight loss since July 2011 to let this upcoming gathering lead me off track. There are good tips in here. I think every time I feel stressed about something, I'm going to head for the glass of water. I may be the most hydrated person at Thanksgiving!


I agree! Whenever I overeat I feel good in the moment but really terrible after and the next day!



Original Post by: themcmaster

There's a different kind of emotional eating we rarely get advice on: Happy Eating.

I tend to eat more when I'm with my family because I'm happy, relaxed, not worrying so much about having to lose weight, and feeling good about myself. Often when I feel good about my current body and my fitness I allow myself to eat at maintenance or a little higher, rather than for a deficit.

This is fine for one day, but when visiting family, or spending the weekend with my husband, this can go on for two, three, four days... Definitely putting a hold on weight loss for a while. Undecided

So what are some helpful tips for people who eat more out of happiness rather than stress or depression? I would appreciate the advice!

-Maddy


I would suggest just exercising more during the time you're visiting family or friends. You could go jogging outside or in the park or maybe to a gym if one of your family members you're visiting has a membership at a club!



I think a good way to avoid happy over-eating is to give yourself healthy options within arms reach. You could offer to bring healthy alternatives of traditional dishes so that you know you will have healthy options, there are great healthy recipes for mocktails, appetizers (even deviled eggs), sides, etc available on the internet (cleaneatingmag.com.) That way you can still eat, drink and be merry but you won't break the calorie bank. Happy Holidays!



Original Post by: themcmaster

There's a different kind of emotional eating we rarely get advice on: Happy Eating.

I tend to eat more when I'm with my family because I'm happy, relaxed, not worrying so much about having to lose weight, and feeling good about myself. Often when I feel good about my current body and my fitness I allow myself to eat at maintenance or a little higher, rather than for a deficit.

This is fine for one day, but when visiting family, or spending the weekend with my husband, this can go on for two, three, four days... Definitely putting a hold on weight loss for a while. Undecided

So what are some helpful tips for people who eat more out of happiness rather than stress or depression? I would appreciate the advice!

-Maddy


Happy Eating IS Emotional Eating. The advice should work no matter what emotion you are feeling when you eat.



Original Post by: ckoudsi617

I plan to have a big glass of water before the meal, and also to take smaller bites and put down my fork between bites.  THAT should slow me down!  (I think eating too fast is a really big part of eating too much, and it is one of my weak points).  Enjoy, everyone!


perfect plan!!



There's also the sheer AVAILABILITY of food this time of year and it's hard (in terms of temptation and politeness) when people literally push food at you. 

I've already been accused of not being a team player because I don't want to participate in my work place's holiday potluck.  The theme they've chose?  Holiday Feast.  As in, a ham and at least part of turkey, stuffing, green bean cassserole, pie, the whole works. 

Nobody needs that kind of spread two weeks after Thanksgiving and two weeks before Christmas, and I don't appreciate being told off because I want to take of health!



You could always bring crudites:  celery and carrot sticks, red and green bell pepper strips, snow peas, jicama slices and so on.  Then you can snack on those.  You could even do a low fat dip using fat free greek yogurt and cucumbers (peeled, seeds removed) with garlic and mint or something.  That way, you could make an appearance, nibble on some of the nutritious stuff, then make a speedy exit should the temptation get to you. I find that the more I resist, the more people "push stuff on me" (they tend to get "defensive" and act like they think you're looking 'down' on them); so I just pretend to go along and then do my own thing, with few being the wiser.  It's worked for me so far.  Cheers.

 Hope whatever you decide works out well for you.



Original Post by: design201

"Eating cannot solve any of these problems." BUT IT DOES FEEL THAT WAY SOMETIMES.


Yeah, I totally get you there.  If you're an emotional eater logic doesn't really factor in when you're in a binge, or considering one.

What I'm trying is to plan other things that I can do make myself more resistant to the problems, negativity, ect.  This year I'm going to make a list of all the things I love about myself and all the good things people who care about me have said.  I'm going to put that list into my phone and when I start to feel upset, stressed or out of control I'm going to step back and read that list.  It may not fix things, but it will help me be strong, confident and feel good.

 



Maddy, I am in a similar situation. Our happy family and extended family gathers together on Thanksgiving and does three things: visit, cook & eat, and watch football. This year I have asked one of the guys that is the “Leader of the pack” to organize a family walk/run and award silly prizes to the winners in the kids, younger adults, and “Old folks” (the group I find myself in) categories. I have also asked him to organize a co-ed touch football game. The goal being get us out of the house, get some exercise, take our mind off eating for a spell, and enjoy each other’s company. We will see how it works. …something different.  



Original Post by: dianemar

Original Post by: ckoudsi617

I plan to have a big glass of water before the meal, and also to take smaller bites and put down my fork between bites.  THAT should slow me down!  (I think eating too fast is a really big part of eating too much, and it is one of my weak points).  Enjoy, everyone!


perfect plan!!


Not quite! Drinking a big glass of water before/during you eat will dilute your digestive enzymes and your digestion will be less effective. Keep well hydrated always; a lot of times when you feel hungry you are actually thirsty! Aim to drink 2.5-3 litres of still mineral water/unsweetened herbal tea every day. Eat slowly - it takes 20 mins from you starting to eat for your blood sugar level to go up and give your brain the message that you are 'full' (note though, 'full' doesn't mean bursting at the seams!). In 20 mins you can eat a palm-sized grilled chicken breast with steamed veg or you can just so easily overeat! Chew your food properly, digestion starts in your mouth when you chew and mix up your food with amylase, the pre-digestive enzyme in your saliva. Put your fork down between bites and chat a little with people around you - if they want to stuff their faces, let them, but you don't have to do the same! Enjoy and don't forget all the hard work you put in so far; others might try to make you eat because they are jealous if how good you look! Be single-minded and put yourself first!

Happy festive season!


Original Post by: J_u_d_y

I agree, I have been doing WW for over a year, trying it online, but haven't been on track since September after a weight loss of 50 lbs.  I'm finding myself slipping into old habits, stress and boredom.  Craving sweets.

This site is giving me alot of emotional support.  I haven't been counting calories, is there a chart?  I haven't been using my droid phone to it's potential with the site, but the forum threads are great.  Just have to find the time to learn.

I am 67 years old, do water aerobics, 5 days a week and walk, ride my bike, but only recreational.  I am sagging, not toned, and am worried that when the last 20 or 30 pounds come off the fat will just hang.  I have bad knees so, I don't do some aerobic exercises, although we dance often.  I am 5'1" and wear a 12 petite, my clothes, all new, fit well and people say I look great.  I have been working more at staying where I am, but the charts say 20 - 30 more, like my teenage weight.  Since I am past menopause it is harder.  The batwing arms are pretty normal for people my age, but the belly fat and flabby thighs, I don't care for.  Thanks, I know this is long, my first post.  Judy

 

 

 


Judy, keep to a low GI diet, don't count calories. Craving sweets is a vicious cycle; in Chinese Medicine you crave sweets if your Spleen is deficient (this doesn't mean there is ANYTHING wrong with your spleen in Western Medical terms!) but the more sweets you eat, the weaker your spleen will get. The question is how do you break the cycle? Well, you will need to nourish your Spleen and you do this by not eating processed sweets, but you increase your protein intake (chicken, fish, eggs, pulses, unsalted raw nuts - all but Peanuts!- and quinoa are the best sources of protein). You can also eat 2 squares of dark chocolate / day, it is very nourishing, go for the types that contain a minimum of 60% cocoa solids. They are delicious with a small handful of almonds. Also, are you supplementing chromium and zinc? Take 500mg of good quality chromium picolinate / day, this will help your sugar cravings big time, and 30mg zinc (chelated or picolinate) / day. Also take 2mg copper / day, as zinc washes out copper from the body. If you are diabetic (you don't mention this) just double check everything with a good doctor that knows nutrition, but these supplements should not interfere with other medications. Unfortunately sagging skin is something you get if you lose a lot of weight after a certain age. Add more exercise so you build up your muscle tone.

I hope this helps, good luck!


I am finally starting to fit into those jeans.  They are still a little

snug on the waist but I am going to wear them on Thanksgiving

to remind me not to overeat and to make good choices.  I've come

too far.  The weight goes on so fast and it's takes alot of work to

take off those Thanksgiving pounds.



Original Post by: mewlkitten

Original Post by: themcmaster

There's a different kind of emotional eating we rarely get advice on: Happy Eating.

I tend to eat more when I'm with my family because I'm happy, relaxed, not worrying so much about having to lose weight, and feeling good about myself. Often when I feel good about my current body and my fitness I allow myself to eat at maintenance or a little higher, rather than for a deficit.

This is fine for one day, but when visiting family, or spending the weekend with my husband, this can go on for two, three, four days... Definitely putting a hold on weight loss for a while. Undecided

So what are some helpful tips for people who eat more out of happiness rather than stress or depression? I would appreciate the advice!

-Maddy


Happy Eating IS Emotional Eating. The advice should work no matter what emotion you are feeling when you eat.


I can see where the "Me First" and "Don't Get Bored" sections still apply, but the other ones don't make sense if you're not feeling anxious or sad.

But! I did get some good advice from helpful CC members - thanks! Luckily my sis is into fitness and will be willing to go work out with me, probably every day. It's nice to have a running buddy for a change.

Even if she's not up for it, I'll make some time for myself to exercise.

I also plan on pretending I don't notice when other people are eating and I'm not. I don't need to be eating to be part of the conversation and good times. I will keep reminding myself of that throughout the weekend.



Original Post by: themcmaster

There's a different kind of emotional eating we rarely get advice on: Happy Eating.

I tend to eat more when I'm with my family because I'm happy, relaxed, not worrying so much about having to lose weight, and feeling good about myself. Often when I feel good about my current body and my fitness I allow myself to eat at maintenance or a little higher, rather than for a deficit.

This is fine for one day, but when visiting family, or spending the weekend with my husband, this can go on for two, three, four days... Definitely putting a hold on weight loss for a while. Undecided

So what are some helpful tips for people who eat more out of happiness rather than stress or depression? I would appreciate the advice!

-Maddy


The kitchen island in my aunt's house where we host holidays is always a spread of raw vegetables. We all stand around it, loving the happy hours spent together, and go to town on the veggies! Even the little kiddos can't get enough. Keep healthy options right in front of you and chow down! The fiber also helps keep us more satisfied when the less than nutritous food appears.



The end of year work chocolates and other Xmas food that arrives at my work place has been hard to resist.  I have already put on some weight and it's not even Xmas day yet Frown



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