Eating Psychology for the Holidays

eating psychology for the holidays

Do you remember how you felt last Thanksgiving after the meal?  Did you feel pleasantly full and satisfied?  Or did you eat so much food that you were stuffed?  You might have wished for a wheelbarrow to roll you out of the house or a stretcher to magically increase the waistband of your pants at least two sizes.  This article will discuss eating psychology to help you avoid feeling awful after holiday meals.

Overeating at holiday meals is a problem for many people.  It is not so much a temptation for me, but eating dairy-containing foods is.  A few weekends ago my husband and I were walking downtown in the Alley on a Saturday night.  We saw some friends walk by who were eating ice cream.  Even though we had eaten dinner and were full, we went down to Cyndi’s Sweet Shoppe where I got a dish of mint chocolate chip.  I have a food sensitivity to milk, so I know I should not have ice cream.  But it tasted so good!  Later that evening my body aches and pains reminded me why I should not eat dairy.  

Both of these examples are situations where our mindset, not our hunger, determined what and how much we ate.  By learning and applying the psychology of eating, you can have a better relationship with food over the holidays.  

Four Types of Eating

Brooke Castillo, founder of The Life Coach School, proposes that there are four types of eating styles: storm eating, fog eating, fuel eating and joy eating.  Storm eating involves bingeing, or eating to excess to mask some other hurt that you are feeling. Fog eating is eating with no awareness of the food you are consuming. Eating while watching TV or while working are examples of fog eating.  You are not concentrating on your meal, but instead are focused on something else.  Both storm eating and fog eating can easily lead to eating too much and the consequent problems associated with overeating.  

Castillo states that most of the time people should be fuel eating.  This involves consciously choosing nutritious foods, eating them when you are truly hungry and focusing on the meal while you are eating it.  

Joy eating is eating without doing anything else so that you can focus on really enjoying your food.  The food you are eating may be high in calories, sugar or fat, but is something you really love. By taking time to choose the food and savor it as you eat it, you substantially increase your pleasure.  

The holidays are times when many people may be prone to either storm eating or fog eating.  If you are attending a holiday gathering that includes “difficult” people, you may be prone to storm eating in order to temporarily reduce the anxious feelings.  Standing in front of the cocktail table and becoming very involved in conversations while eating may cause you to fog eat.  

During the holiday season, in order to maintain weight and health, you should strive to eat for fuel during most meals.  Determine what type and amount of food your body needs to work most effectively.  Then plan and eat meals consisting of those foods.  

Joy Eating at Holidays

At special Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, eat for the joy of those celebrations.  Eat only the amount your body is truly hungry for and what you plan to eat. Here are a few ways to do this.  

Have a commitment to self-care. 

 Don’t beat yourself up if you binge eat.  Make advance plans as to how to handle potentially challenging or stressful situations.  Be still and take time to know what is important to you.  Then prioritize your schedule based on      your important values.  

Have a future focus. 

Don’t be buried in the past. Visualize your body in the future. Have a “watcher” look Don’t automatically react to negative feelings by reflexive eating.  Take conscious action based on the results that you want, not how you feel.  For example, you often eat donuts when you are feeling stressed at work, but then you feel guilty because you broke your diet. Instead, notice the stress feeling. Then consciously choose a response different from eating.  Take a few deep breaths and then plan your work for the day. Or take a short walk to clear your head and plan your work.  

By following these few steps, you will be well on your way to a happier and healthier holiday season.  

Take this healthy, sugar-free dessert to your next holiday event.  Check out my recipes tab for more healthy recipes.

Healthy Apple Crumble

Serves 4-6

4 cups peeled and sliced fresh organic apples
juice of one lemon
1 cup almond flour
¼ cup chopped pecans
¼ cup melted virgin coconut oil
2 tablespoons Swerve sweetener
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon sea salt

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Place the apples in 9×9 baking dish and squeeze the lemon juice over them.  Toss slightly to coat the fruit.  

In a mixing bowl, combine the almond flour, pecans, melted coconut oil, Swerve, cinnamon,and salt.  Spread this topping evenly over the apples and bake until the fruit is well cooked and bubbly and the topping is golden brown, approximately 35 minutes.  

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