The holidays are fertile ground for emotional eating. There are several reasons for this.
- Stress- we often feel more stress during the holidays due to increased social activities, lack of routine and increased financial stress.
- Lack of sleep- when we get busy, sleep is often the first thing to go. Incidentally, less sleep increases stress and vice versa. Not to mention that a lack of sleep automatically puts us at risk for emotional eating because our hunger and fullness hormones are out of whack and our impulse control is greatly diminished.
- Lack of sunlight- cold and shorter days tend to mean Seasonal Affective Disorder for about 25% of Utahns
- Too much family togetherness- time with family is great….until it isn’t. There is a lot of pressure to spend time together and if we have a less than ideal history coupled with difficulty communicating in the present, this can spell disaster.
As a result, many of us find ourselves engaging in emotional eating to cope with difficult emotional situations. It is particularly powerful this time of year because, for some, this is their only means of escape and the coping mechanism (food) is plentiful. We tell ourselves, that we’ll get back on track in January (because we all know those New Year’s Resolutions will last right?!). So, we put ourselves into a food coma for the six weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s when what we really need to do is engage in self-care. If you use healthier means to manage your stress, make sure you get enough sleep, get out in the sunshine regularly and speak your truth with family members instead of eating your feelings, you won’t need to white knuckle it to January and set goals that you won’t likely follow through. If hunger isn’t the problem, food will never be the solution. It might temporarily make you feel better, but after that last bite of cake, you will still have the stress that led you to it in the first place. So, this year, do something different. Honor your feelings without food. Honor yourself by doing what you need to do to nurture yourself in a very meaningful way. Happy Holidays!