As far as I am concerned the holiday season starts October 1, which means holiday overeating start at the beginning of October. I call the last three months of the year the Holiday Trifecta: There are three major holidays in quick succession: Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. It is the 3 months of holidays which encourage over indulgence, letting loose and overeating. This holiday season is, also, the time of feeling bad about our bodies, disconnecting from the true meaning of the holidays, as well as it is the time of extreme overeating. During this time of year, we can tend to eat (overeat) all the foods we avoid the other times of the year. Basically, the holiday trifecta is three months of sanctioned and allowable overeating. After the holiday season, we enter the new year feeling bloated, overwhelmed and looking for the next diet.
People, in general, ask me all the time why they overeat, especially at holiday time.
When they talk about the overeating, they talk about the frustration, anxiety and feeling terrible about themselves. I tell them there is the buildup of not allowing themselves to eat (dieting/restricting), then they overeat, and in the end feeling bad about overeating (guilt). It is a vicious cycle. I speak with people daily who go through this cycle on a regular basis. The holiday time is different because the foods we restrict throughout the year become fair game. As we eat those “special” holiday foods, we can allow ourselves to overeat.
The holidays, individually, are not bad in and of themselves. Halloween Day you can have some candy. Thanksgiving Day you can have some turkey, gravy and mashed potatoes. Christmas Day you can have some cookies and sweets. Those individual holiday days are not the problem. One meal of overeating is not a big deal; the problem is all the other days and meals in between the actual holiday day (the Holiday Trifecta).
Often the answer to all of this overeating is, come January 1 – “I will go on a diet” or “I’ll think about it on January 1 at the New Year.” During the 3 month Holiday Trifecta, There are many days of overeating that you end up feeling bad about yourself and bad about your body (hence leading you to think you need to diet/restrict come January 1).
Let’s be honest with ourselves. What happens when we allow ourselves to overeat at the holiday time?
We tend to:
- Become more and more disconnected from our bodies and ourselves. Mindless about how we are really feeling.
- Feel bad in our bodies feel bad. Physically we have an upset stomach, bloating and weight gain.
- Start disliking ourselves and feel bad about ourselves. People often tell me that after they overeat they hate themselves.
- Suffer emotionally, feeling angry, frustrated and overwhelmed.
- Think about food more often than not and that bothers us.
The problems and suffering with overeating is REAL. I am here to tell you there is a better way. A way to peace with food, especially during the holiday season.
Here are some simple suggestions.
- Take a deep breath. Cam and anxiety cannot exist together. Breathe as you think about eating and as you are eating. It gets you to reconnect with your body.
- Notice your bodily signals about hunger and fullness. Ask yourself, “Am I hungry?” before you eat is a great first step.
- Allow more self-care. This is the season of letting our needs go to the wayside, don’t let that happen!
- Get support. I am not talking about going on whatever the current diet fad being promoted on Yahoo or Facebook. Find someone who helps you find peace with food and can put you in touch with strategies to put food in its proper place as nourishment.
It is important to know that the Holiday Trifecta it can be so enjoyable with all of the gatherings, food, festivities and decorations, but it is also loaded with difficulties.
The difficulties can make the good times less enjoyable, because you are worried and feeling bad. Start by noticing how you are feeling and what you are saying to yourself. If there is negativity or worry, it could be time to get that support to help you feel more peaceful.
During this Holiday Trifecta time period, there are options to travel down the road towards peace with food. You do not have to feel overwhelmed with food anymore this holiday season! You’ve got this!
Kim McLaughlin, MA is a Counselor and Motivational Coach who specializes in working with people who suffer from binge eating, emotional eating, overeating and over dieting. She is a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor. She is the author of the best selling book Feed Your Soul; Nourish Your Life! A Six Step System to Peace with Food and the Amazon #1 Best Selling book Discovery Your Inspiration.