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Elizabeth Scott, M.S.

Combat Holiday Overeating!

By December 12, 2013

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The holiday season is a notoriously bad time for the waistline. In fact, just thinking about December makes some people swear they've put on a pound or two! While this tends to be a time of year that people want to look their best--most people see family and friends galore at holiday parties and gatherings and want to look nice dressed up, or be remembered as looking their best--it's also a time when staying svelte is most difficult. Think about it; in addition to the regular causes of stress-related weight gain, we have these other factors to contend with:
  • More food. Better Food.
    Yes, with all the holiday parties and nice dinners with family, people are often presented with more opportunities to gorge themselves with really delicious (and often more fattening) food. More food is served socially this time of year, and there are also generally more sweets being passed around. This makes for more times when we have to 'be good', and we're bound to slip up a little extra.

  • More Emotional Stress.
    The holidays can bring social and emotional stress as we face family gatherings where there might be some unresolved conflict, or attend office functions with people we might not choose to hang out with socially. There's also the stress of buying gifts (often on a tight budget), fitting in all the activities of the season, and other stressors that occur during the holiday season. (Read more about those stressors in this article on holiday stress.) Because stressed people tend to eat more, and gain more weight, this can take a toll.

  • More Excuses
    People who are celebrating often indulge more than they would in their regular lives. When celebrating the holidays, there are several occasions where people might relax their dietary standards a little, in the name of celebration. These celebrations, however, can be rather plentiful during the holiday season, and the indulgences ("Oh, look--the neighbors made us fudge!" "Hey, it's a party! Why not have another piece of pie?" etc.) can add up.

So what's a body-conscious person to do? Obviously, you can't cancel the holidays!

The first step is to be aware of these triggers, and notice them before they catch you off guard again this month. Have a plan for parties (you can eat a little--not a lot--and try to throw in some extra exercise, for example), and watch your holiday stress levels. And follow regular guidelines for combatting emotional eating, of course.

Tools and Guidelines for Combatting Emotional Eating:

  • Take The Stress and Weight Gain Test
    Stress can contribute to weight gain in several ways. If you're having trouble with your weight and wonder what role stress may be playing, or if you just want information and resources for healthy change, this is the quiz for you! The following 10 questions are each designed to help you assess a different aspect of your lifestyle to determine if you may benefit from some simple changes that can help you keep your weight under control when you're stressed. At the end of the quiz, you'll find resources that pertain to your specific situation.

  • What Causes Emotional Eating?
    Even if we know what we're supposed to be eating, there are additional factors that influence how much and what type of food we consume. One of these factors is stress, which is linked to increased emotional eating. Emotional eating has many causes. Learn about the main reasons--besides hunger--that stressed people eat, and find resources to stop emotional eating.

  • How To Stop Emotional Eating
    As anyone who's watching their weight will tell you, hunger is just one of many reasons that people eat. If you're an emotional eater, you may find yourself eating to deal with uncomfortable emotions, using food as a reward when you're happy, and craving sweets or unhealthy snacks when stressed. This article can help you to cut down emotional eating and develop healthier eating habits--even when stressed!

Photo from iStockPhoto.com

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