You may have replicated the holiday traditions you grew up with or created your own anew- but regardless they probably contain a lot of food. WildFitters learn that the relationship between our emotions and food is very complex, and our motivations for eating are usually not hunger alone. Holidays bring together friends and family, and bring up memories both good and bad- and all of that combined with a hectic schedule and need to please others culminates in storm of emotions. The following 5 points may remind you or bring new insights into WildFit Ways to Beat Holiday Stress Eating.
Reduce causes of stress and negative emotions associated with this eating entirely.
Rather than planning for the best case scenario and good intentions, spend a moment imagining the worst thing that could happen if you are antagonized by a person or situation. Sit with the feelings and feel what they bring up. If they bring up an urge to eat to push down the feelings, to ignore the feelings, or to soothe the feelings, acknowledge it. Work through that urge and play detective to discover when this behaviour first started and the situation that created it. Sit with the experience until you truly understand why you choose this form of coping and can see that eating will not absolve these feelings long term.
Your honesty and acknowledgement of this behaviour takes away its power, and you will be better prepared if it actually happens.
If this feels overwhelming, enlist the support of a WildFit Coach to help you through it.
Mindfully make a plan for success.
Once you understand the situations and people that could cause you to stress eat, spend a bit of time planning to avoid it. Acknowledging you will be tempted to do it is the first step, planning an alternative to it is next. How can you distract yourself or remove yourself from the situation?
For example: If you feel social anxiety at large gatherings and your partner’s work party is looming, rather than planning to hit the food table first, think of 3 people you would like to seek out and say hello to. If you will inevitably be left alone and this troubles you, plan to circulate slowly, smiling and saying hello rather than heading for a cocktail. If your sister’s success/mother in laws comments about your diet/ uncle’s alcoholism make you nervous practice your breathing exercises and responding to the situation, rather than reacting to it.
No matter the circumstance, if you feel prepared for it, rather than fearful of it, the stress will more easily dissipate without the need for sugar or alcohol.
Follow your food dialogue
If the situation catches you by surprise, or you are caught quite tempted by the dessert table but are avoiding sugar- pay attention to why you want it. Go through the 6 Human Hungers and use the Food Devil, Food Angel and Sugar Monster tools. When you understand the motivation for why the food is calling to you, there is now a choice in whether you really want it or if there is a more fulfilling way to overcome the craving, rather than giving in to compulsion.
Do not indulge in moderation if it does not serve your health.
Remember that anything in moderation also includes your health and longevity- so make your choices wisely. If you decide that you want a season of WildFit Fall during a particularly festive weekend, and you know that you can do it without guilt and shame, then enjoy each morsel of unsupportive food mindfully. If you are a person who is very sensitive to sugar, and you know it is a trigger food for you, it may not be best to have that sweet dessert. Rather, bring a delicious confection made of whole food that is naturally sweetened, so you can enjoy dessert with everyone else but still honour yourself. If you are in WildFit Spring for a goal and purpose, then it is simply not a choice this time. The key here is continuing the work from #1-3, ensuring that if you chose to have a food that is on your rarely or occasional list, you do so consciously. This creates an opportunity to enjoy the food if you want it, but also to de-stress and change old habits if they no longer serve your health goals.
Be kind to yourself and avoid further stress, guilt, or shame.
If something happens and you don’t follow your plan, or in a weak moment forget your conscious eating and end up binging or having a week of unsupportive eating – the worst thing you can do is to to feel bad about it. When you start to think about how ‘bad’ you have been, you forget about the learning opportunity that you have. Bad feelings about being weak, dumb, or “off WildFit” do not serve you. Rather, look at how the situation occurred and look for clues of where things fell apart. This insight and self knowledge will help you in future experiences. We are all human, and WildFit is about seeking progress, not perfection.