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How To Prevent Emotional Eating Over the Holidays

This is a busy time of year, and I hope in the middle of all the madness, you’re having a few magical moments. For many of you, I know the next couple weeks will be a combination of fun, family, and STRESS.

Holiday traditions trump our usual routines and structure. And, as much as we love them, our extended families can be an added source of unruly emotions. All the goodies, the raw emotions, and the added stress, can trigger emotional eating.  This can look like eating because of stress, eating for comfort, or using food to calm ourselves or stuff down a feeling.  Add to that all the holiday parties and you may be tempted to throw in the towel and say you’ll start again in January.

There’s no need to do that!  Read on for some simple tips to help you avoid emotional eating over the holidays.

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Create a Plan

The holidays often disrupt our usual routine.  Time off work, house guests, Christmas parties, and even sleeping in can throw your normal schedule off track.  

Look over your schedule for the next couple weeks and write yourself into your calendar. Write down when you plan to exercise, even if it’s just something simple each day.  

It’s important to have a list of non-negotiables that you plan on doing–no matter what. For me, these are exercising a minimum of 3 times per week, drinking water, and eating a fruit or vegetable with every meal.  3 simple things, but I know if I do those, I’m maintaining the healthy habits I’ve worked so hard to create.  

Eat Mindfully

I’m a strong believer that life is meant to be enjoyed.  It’s simply not sustainable to think you’ll never eat your favorite foods ever again.  

Instead, make a plan for them and make mindful choices.  A couple strategies you can use for holiday parties is to either eat lighter throughout the day so you can indulge a little at the party, or if you know that doesn’t work for you, have a snack before you go and take a healthy dish to share.  

Often, I’ll plan on eating a dessert or something I love, but I stop as soon as I find I’m not enjoying it.  There’s no reason to finish everything.  Often a couple bites are all it takes.  Those are the best bites anyway.

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Plan your Meals

There will be plenty of time over the next couple weeks where you’re not partying, or taking part in holiday traditions.  Plan for these times as well.  

Because life is extra busy, make sure you have some simple, healthy meals that don’t require a lot of thought or preparation.  Make some oatmeal or healthy muffins ahead of time for breakfast.  Or a big pot of soup with lots of vegetables in it to reheat for lunch.

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Listen to your Body

The key to long-term weight loss is to learn to listen to your body’s hunger cues.  It’s important to remember that true physical hunger starts in the body.  Emotional hunger starts in the mind.  

As soon as you start to feel a whisper of hunger, eat, and stop when you feel satisfied–not full.  Sometimes this means leaving food on your plate.   This method is really satisfying because you know as soon as you feel hungry again, you can eat.  

As long as you eat only when you’re hungry, and stop when you’re full, eating a few of your favorite foods over the holiday won’t delay your health and wellness goals. 

Join the Conversation

What’s your biggest challenge when it comes to emotional eating during the holidays?  Are health and fitness part of your New Year’s Resolutions this year?  If you don’t already have a plan, I’d love to help you come up with one. Click here to join The Sisterhood of Healthy Living, my private Facebook community. We’d love to have you!

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