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Worried About Overindulging This Holiday Season? Here Are 6 Mindful Eating Tips to Help:

Are you ready for the countless holiday parties, tables filled with food and the endless desserts? Tis’ the season! As we head into thanksgiving and the holiday season in general, it is important to remember that balance and healthy eating are still essential to our overall wellbeing. The key here is balance This means that while we can absolutely indulge in celebration and enjoy a slice of our favorite pie, we must also maintain good self-awareness of our food intake and emotional process while eating and get back on track after the celebration ends. 

The number of individuals struggling with eating disorders in this country has been quoted as high as 30 million by the National Eating Disorder Association. Therefore, many people may be dealing with the challenges of be triggered by food during the holidays. Emotional eating occurs when one’s emotional state causes them to binge eat or repeatedly overindulge. This can be particularly difficult to manage during this season as we tend to have more food available as well as lots of sugary treats to entice. If you find yourself struggling to control emotional eating episodes or urges to overindulge this holiday season, here are some tips that may be helpful. 

6 Tips to Reduce Emotional Eating:

1. Prepare for mealtimes.

It is important to think ahead. This could include bringing some healthier snacks along with you to a holiday party where you know healthy food options may be limited or preparing a side dish to take to an event that is a healthier option for you. Also, many people suggest eating a healthy snack before attending a party so that you are not as hungry and tempted to overindulge during an event.

2. Manage stress.

The holidays and even attending holiday parties can be stressful. When our stress levels are high, it has been noted that we tend to have higher episodes of emotional eating. It is important that you are managing your stress levels before and during the event to ensure that you do not engage in unhealthy eating as a poor coping mechanism. Some healthy ways to manage stress include: exercising, journaling, laughing, and engaging in distracting hobbies. 

3. Get emotions under control.

Emotional eating is triggered by experiencing difficult or unhealthy emotions as well as challenging cognitions that impact the way that we think. One way to reduce emotional eating is to feel more in control of your emotions prior to attending a holiday party. This may include engaging in mindfulness or meditation. Mindfulness is a state of being fully in tune and aware of your present moment, including your thoughts, feelings and body experiences. Mindfulness can help you to feel very present and engaged in the moment as well as more in control to how you are feeling. Another way to get emotions under control is to express them. This could be to briefly write in a journal or call up a friend to talk about how you are feeling. The point here is that you are walking into a situation with a better overall mental and emotional state.

4. Engage in mindful eating.

Mindfulness is a state of being fully aware and in tune with your present moment; therefore, when we eat mindfully, this means we are being fully aware of ourselves and our experience with food. Mindful eating means taking a pause prior to eating to calm and center yourself. You can take a few deep breaths to really get yourself grounded. Then prior to eating, pay full attention to your food, how it looks and if there are any smells. Then as you take your first bite, really focus on the experience of chewing the food, what the food tastes like, what the texture is like and how it feels to eat the food. Continue this exercise throughout your eating experience to really help you slow down and focus on the present moment.

5. Manage alcohol consumption.

One critical piece of food intake that people often forget, is consuming alcohol. When we are enjoying holiday parties and festivities with family and friends, many people may enjoy an alcoholic beverage here and there. It’s important to be mindful of your alcohol intake as this can impact your food consumption. When people do not monitor their alcohol intake they can often over eat without even realizing. Alcohol can lower our inhibitions and impact our judgment and thought process.

6. Get in the right mindset.

While emotions obviously play a huge role in emotional eating episodes, your mindset and the way that you think are equally important. Get into a good mindset before attending any holiday events. This could be engaging in positive affirmations before you go and speaking to yourself in a positive way like, “I can do this,” “I have my relationship with food under control,” “I can have a healthier relationship with food.” The purpose here is to utilize positive self-talk to impact the way that you think about yourself and your situation. This will set you up for entering the holidays with both your emotional and mental state in a more positive frame. 

For more information about eating mindfully, check out our online self-guided class: Mindful Eating & A Healthy Relationship With Food.

Blog written by: Dr. Shelley Sommerfeldt, Clinical Psychologist, Relationship Coach & Founder of the Loving Roots Project, an online wellness practice specializing in personal growth, mental wellness, & relationship betterment.

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