By Joshua Grayck
Turkey dinner and all the trimmings; eaten and digested. Now on deck; party platters, desserts, holiday dinners and more dessert. Of course let’s not forget about New Year’s resolutions.
This time of year can be difficult for self-control and way too easy to let go and overeat. While Thanksgiving was a few weeks ago and now just a memory, can the same be said about your eating habits?
Did you know, without realizing, it is possible that the extra servings of your favorite dish and dessert have set the stage for putting on 5, 10, or maybe more pounds this holiday season. Overeating can mimic addictive behaviors and be very difficult for some individuals to control.
If you are fortunate, and it’s not a problem, consider yourself lucky! For the rest of you, and I included myself, you might need some help to manage this time of year.
I start with a plan and ask myself, what my goals are this holiday season and reiterate each time when there is a party or dinner to attend.
* Don’t stuff myself
* Don’t eat too many desserts
* Don’t gain weight
To use the economic phrase, opportunity cost; each time you eat presents an opportunity about what you put in your body. Will it nourish your body and provide it essential nutrients? While this might seem simple, the holiday season can be a treacherous time of year when it comes to self-control!
I have found by identifying your goals and reciting them before you go out, helps to focus on what’s important and what will make you feel good about yourself. From my own personal experience, overeating can promote negative feelings in addition to feeling tired and lethargic.
This type of emotional hunger is common and triggers vicious cycles of overeating, especially during the holidays and is different than physical hunger.
- Emotional hunger is all about instant gratification
- Emotional hunger is all about cravings from the brain and less to do than the stomach sending hunger signals to the brain
- Emotional hunger can be triggered by specific foods like something salty or sweet
- Emotional hunger often leads to over consumption
Prevention is the key and not to allow yourself to be placed in that vulnerable position. It comes down to energy balance. With the right mindset, it actually takes less energy when you can control your eating patterns than letting yourself go, and putting on the extra weight.
Challenge yourself each time you reach for food. And remember to ask yourself, why I am eating this and will it jeopardize my goals?
Here’s what I found to be helpful during the holiday season.
- Eat healthy, nutritious foods before you hit the parties
- Anticipate your weakness and identify foods that you are vulnerable to overeat
- Keep in mind that sugar and processed carbohydrates are addictive and generate dopamine, the feel-good neurotransmitter that promotes overconsumption
- Walk by the food table and prioritize foods that support your goals
- Eat less store bought, premade and processed foods – they are nothing special
- Plate just enough and don’t graze
Now think forward 6 weeks from now and ask yourself how you want to feel. Let your actions this holiday season support your endgame. The act of eating is to be enjoyed to its fullest. Being mindful and in the moment this holiday season will be the best present you can give yourself!