The holidays, a time for gratitude and togetherness, are also notorious for their sumptuous feasts, and with that might come the fear of an impending binge. If you’re working on maintaining a balanced and healthy relationship with food, the holiday season can be a bit tricky. However, with some mindful strategies, you can enjoy the festivities without it spiraling into a binge!
Why Do Binges Increase During The Holidays?
Increased Stress: The holiday season often brings added stress due to various factors such as social obligations, financial pressure, and family dynamics. Stress can contribute to emotional eating or bingeing as a coping mechanism.
Food-Centric Celebrations: Holidays often revolve around food-centric celebrations, where large quantities of rich and indulgent foods are readily available. The abundance of tempting treats can trigger overeating or binge episodes.
Social Pressures: Social gatherings and events during the holidays may involve comments or comparisons related to appearance and food choices. This can create additional pressure and stress, potentially leading to binge-eating episodes.
Disruption of Routine: Holidays typically disrupt regular routines, including meal times and exercise schedules. Changes in routine can make it challenging for individuals with binge-eating tendencies to maintain a structured and balanced approach to eating.
Emotional Triggers: Holidays may evoke a range of emotions, including joy, nostalgia, loneliness, or sadness. Emotional triggers can contribute to binge eating as a way to cope with or numb intense feelings.
Perceived Expectations: There may be a perceived expectation to indulge during holidays, which can lead individuals to give themselves permission to overeat or binge. The notion that it’s a time to “let loose” with food can contribute to this behavior.
Cultural and Family Influences: Cultural and family traditions often involve specific foods, and the pressure to conform to these traditions can contribute to binge eating. Family dynamics and expectations may also play a role.
Diet Mentality: The mindset of starting a new diet or “getting back on track” after the holidays can create a sense of urgency to indulge before restrictive eating begins. This mentality can lead to overconsumption.
It’s important to note that these factors can vary from person to person, and not everyone will experience increased binge eating during the holidays. For individuals who find the holidays challenging, seeking support from healthcare professionals, therapists, or support groups can be beneficial in navigating this time with a focus on mental and physical well-being.
Tips To Stay Binge Free During The Holidays
1. Don’t Skip Meals
It’s very normalized in our culture to skip meals to ‘make room for all the tasty dishes they’ll savor later,’ to ‘save calories’ for the eating that happens later in the day. However, skipping meals is not a good idea, and here’s why: If you skip meals, your stomach will start feeling increasingly empty as the day progresses. This can lead to intense hunger, and when you finally sit down to eat or are faced with food, you’ll likely feel very compulsive and out of control when you do eat.
Skipping meals is a binge waiting to happen.
By eating regularly throughout the day, even if you have a big holiday meal planned for the evening, you’re building a strong foundation that helps you feel calmer and more in control.
2. Fill Your Plate With What You Love
When enjoying holiday foods think about what you really like to eat. You don’t have to feel pressured to put everything on your plate. Instead, focus on the dishes that make your taste buds happy. Here’s how to approach it:
- Pick What You Like: As you fill your plate, remember that you’re allowed to choose the foods you enjoy the most. Don’t feel obligated to take everything if you’re not a fan of it. Select the dishes that truly appeal to you.
- No Pressure to Eat It All: Just because you put something on your plate doesn’t mean you have to eat it. You can take a little bit of everything that looks good, and if you find that you’re not enjoying a particular dish, it’s totally fine not to finish it.
- You Can Always Have More: It’s essential to remind yourself that you can go back for seconds or more servings if you want to, so you don’t need to overload your plate at this moment.
This approach allows you to savor the foods you truly love without feeling pressured to eat everything or feeling guilty about waste if you don’t finish something. It’s all about enjoying the flavors and having the freedom to choose what makes your holiday meal special to you.
3. Prioritize Protein
Protein plays a crucial role in fullness and satiation, and it’s not just because it’s delicious! Here’s why it’s a good idea to include protein when you can:
- Feel Full Longer: Consuming foods rich in protein from your holiday spread, helps you stay satiated for an extended period.
- Stay Satisfied: Incorporating protein into your meal can leave you feeling content, reducing the urge to search for extra food shortly after eating. This can enhance your overall holiday experience.
So, don’t forget to add some protein to your plate. They’re not only flavorful but also contribute to a longer-lasting feeling of fullness and satisfaction, allowing you to enjoy the delicious foods with a greater sense of calm.
4. Slow Down With Each Bite
During holiday meals, there is an abundance of wonderful flavors and textures in the food that you might not always eat. When you eat slowly and take your time to chew each bite, you get to savor and relish all the incredible flavors in your meal. This can elevate your dining experience and make it even more satisfying.
5. Plan for Leftovers
The food doesn’t need to go away when the meal concludes. Planning for leftovers can help reduce the pressure to consume everything at that moment. When you’re aware that there will be leftovers, you don’t feel the urgency to eat everything during the meal.
No leftovers because everything got eaten? That doesn’t mean you can’t make more (or buy more) if you really want to!
What If You Start Feeling The Urge To Binge?
If you start feeling like you want to eat a lot during a holiday meal, it’s important to take a deep breath and try not to panic. Find a quiet place if you can, and ask yourself why you’re feeling this way. Maybe you’re stressed or feeling overwhelmed. It’s okay to take a break and talk to someone you trust. You can also distract yourself with a fun activity or go for a short walk. Remember, it’s okay to enjoy the delicious food, but if you’re feeling the urge to eat too much, take small bites, eat slowly, and listen to your body. If you need help, don’t be afraid to reach out to someone for support. You’re not alone, and there are people who care about you and want to help.
Mantras To Use If You Start To Obsess Over Food
Mantras can be powerful tools to shift your mindset and stop obsessing over food. Here are some examples of helpful mantras:
- “Food is fuel, not the enemy.”
- “I trust my body’s signals and eat mindfully.”
- “I am more than the food I eat; my worth goes beyond what’s on my plate.”
- “Nourishing my body is an act of self-love.”
- “I choose foods that make me feel good and energized.”
- “I release the need for perfection in my eating habits.”
- “Eating is a natural and enjoyable part of life.”
- “I listen to my body’s hunger and fullness cues with kindness.”
- “I am in control of my thoughts, and I choose to focus on positive energy.”
- “Every meal is an opportunity to nourish and care for myself.”
- “I savor the flavors of my food and eat with gratitude.”
- “I trust the wisdom of my body to guide me in making healthy choices.”
- “I let go of guilt and embrace a balanced approach to eating.”
- “I am mindful of what my body needs, and I honor those needs.”
- “Food does not define me; I define my relationship with food.”
Choose a mantra that resonates with you and repeat it to yourself whenever you find your thoughts becoming obsessive about food. It can help redirect your focus and promote a more positive and balanced relationship with eating.
Incorporating these mindful strategies into your holiday celebrations can help you enjoy the delicious foods without fearing a binge. Remember, the key is to use this as an opportunity to practice your skills and demonstrate to yourself that you can enjoy holiday foods and be okay!
10 Things To Add To Your Coping Box
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An emotional coping box, also known as a self-soothe or comfort box, is a personalized collection of items that can help individuals cope with difficult emotions, stress, or challenging situations. It’s a tangible and accessible resource that provides comfort and distraction during moments of distress. Here are 10 things you can consider adding to your emotional coping box:
Include items that bring you comfort, such as a soft blanket, stuffed animal, or cozy socks. These tactile objects can provide a sense of security and grounding.
Write down or print out affirmations and positive quotes that resonate with you. Reading these affirmations can help shift your mindset and promote self-compassion.
Incorporate items that engage your senses, such as scented candles, essential oils, or stress-relief lotion. Pleasant scents can have a calming effect.
Include small items like stress balls, fidget spinners, or textured toys. These can serve as a physical outlet for nervous energy and help redirect focus.
Keep a journal or notebook to write down your thoughts, feelings, and reflections. Journaling can be a therapeutic way to express and process emotions.
Include pictures of loved ones, happy memories, or items that hold sentimental value. Visual reminders of positive experiences can bring comfort and perspective.
Guided Relaxation or Meditation Resources
Include a small audio player or device with pre-loaded guided relaxation or meditation sessions. These can help you practice mindfulness and manage stress.
Playlist of Uplifting Music
Create a playlist of music that brings you joy or relaxation. Music has the power to influence mood, and having a go-to playlist can be a quick mood booster.
List of Coping Strategies
Write down a list of healthy coping strategies that work for you. This could include deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, or simple activities that bring you a sense of peace.
Remember, the contents of your emotional coping box should be tailored to your preferences and needs. Regularly review and update the items to ensure they remain effective for you over time. The goal is to have a readily available toolkit that supports your emotional well-being during challenging moments.