3 Ways to Stop Holiday Stress Eating Before it Starts
The holiday season is right around the corner, and if you are like many people the added worry of falling of the wellness wagon is on your mind.
The holidays can be a time to indulge in special treats, spend extra time with friends and family, and even take a break from the day-to-day routine. But what if you like your routine, and you’ve worked really hard to kick your sugar habit and stick to healthy meals and snacks? Then the holiday season can bring up feelings of failure or overwhelm. You might even dread the thought of the season because it feels like you are going to have to start all over again in January- and you already did the work!
Good habits are hard to break
First, keep in mind that you have worked really hard on developing good habits, and odds are good that if they are worth keeping, then they'll stick. Habits that weren’t in your best interest like skipping entire categories of food, or rigid rules are going to be tested- and for good reason.
Your body craves feeling good. You have worked hard all year to find what works for you to feel your best. Even if you do over-indulge in some late night cocktails and appetizers you’ll feel pretty crappy and be quick to course correct back to your healthy ways in no time.
Think of this as a good way to test the sustainability of your habits. If it's too hard to stick with something when you're busy, distracted, or not motivated then it wasn't a habit for you. Healthy habits should feel like second nature, when you stick with them you feel good, and when you don't you miss them.
4 Habits to practice now
There is no point in waiting until November 24th to start thinking about how you are going to handle the holiday season. You can get started right now, the sooner you start thinking about it the more successful you will be.
The following are good habits that you can start today that will carry you through the holiday season and well into next year.
1. Figure out your danger zones. By now you know your triggers, what your guilty pleasure foods are, and what is guaranteed to make you feel like you’re spiraling out of control. Whether it’s a cookie that becomes your gateway to a weekend of sugary treats, or the fact that you’ve never driven past a Starbucks without stopping you know where your danger zones are. List them out and shine the light of awareness on them so they can become choices instead of impulse.
2. Have contingency plans. What will you do when your dinner plans fall through because you had to wait in a 45-minute line for the last roll of wrapping paper? Will you order in? Is it breakfast for dinner? Keep a list of 3-5 options for what you’ll do when you have no time. Same thing applies for fitness. When will you move if not today? How many times can you put it off? If you can’t possibly go to a 60-minute boot camp can you a least do a 15 minute HIIT video at home?
3. Set a holiday season intention. Intentions aren’t goals. Intentions are a statement of how you are living your life. A goal is: I’m going to lose 20#, whereas an intention is: I’m choosing to eat more protein at lunch today because I’m eating better. What will your holiday intention be? Guilt free holiday? Getting more rest? It’s up to you.
4. Get in the habit of having good foods. If you wait until Thanksgiving weekend to start eating broccoli it’s not going to work, there are too many temptations, but if you start eating broccoli a few weeks before Thanksgiving then it will be a habit and harder to give up. Try to slowly add more healthful choices over the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving and you’ll be set up for success.
3 Steps to stop stress eating before it starts
Stress eating is normal, and you aren’t making a mistake or weak-willed if you succumb to the temptations of the season. You can successfully navigate the season with mindfulness and planning.
If you want to take back control, take these steps:
1. Be present- avoid eating distracted. Eat at the table, away from screens, and with your full attention on the meal. If you’re eating in a social setting, use smaller plates and portions to avoid over indulging.
2. Intentional choices- why you are making a choice is less important than simply making the choice. Whether because it tastes good or for nutritional content be purposeful about the food that you eat.
3. Good habits- make it a habit to nourish with whole foods more often, then the times when you can’t will have less of an impact. When you nourish your body well you have an amazing capacity to fight off disease, inflammation, and stressors that can cause fatigue and illness. Give your body the tools to be healthy and the occasional indiscretion will be easily handled.
When you plan ahead you save yourself the trouble and frustration of having to “reset” or “detox” later on, not to mention feeling energized, and ready to have your best holiday season ever.
This season you can make sure that you stick with your good habits- join the Merry Mindfulness Challenge and have the support, guidance, and accountability that you need to stay on track and kick stress eating to the curb.
The 5-week challenge is a series of themed weeks designed to help you stay focused through the busiest & most challenging time of year. Each week you'll get an email with the week's lesson, theme, and suggestions for implementing and staying on track. If you've struggled with staying accountable through the holidays before then you need this challenge.