It's that time of year again! If you have ever been on a diet (like I have), this time of year can stir up SO many emotions- excitement, fear, anxiety, desperate New Year resolutions...now add on top of that how things may be way different than it usually is- emotions will be running high.
With the holidays just around the corner, this time of year can be especially difficult for those struggling with eating and body image concerns, specifically around overeating.
What does it mean to overeat?
Overeating means eating past the point of fullness, leading to feeling uncomfortable. Overeating does NOT mean, eating two serving sizes of rice with dinner, when you feel comfortably satisfied, or feeling like you are eating more than you "should".
This is particularly challenging for past or present dieters since rigid rules often dictate what, when, and how much to eat- with little regard to actual hunger, fullness, and satisfaction.
When I was dieting I second-guessed the needs of my own body, and instead aimed to abide by these rules...which backfired anyway.
I used to walk into a Holiday gathering, completely dreading it. Why?? Because I spent all year yo-yo dieting, and I just KNEW the holidays would send me over the edge. One of the following 2 scenarios would typically happen:
Scenario #1: I'd start off "good" by turning down appetizers, cookies, and pie until I couldn't take it anymore. I would see everyone else enjoying the yummy food, and just hated missing out! The next thing I knew, I'm piling up a plate of food as if it's the first time I have ever eaten...and go back again, and again- until I felt so stuffed and uncomfortable...all because I “messed up" anyway. In intuitive eating, this is known as "The What the Hell Effect".
Scenario #2: I'd go into the season with the mindset of EATING ALL THE FOOD- this is known as the now or never type of eating. I would do this with intention that starting January 1, it all comes to a stop! In Intuitive Eating, this is known as "anticipation of food restriction", or the "Last Supper Mentality".
Can you relate to either scenario?? If so, you are not alone. Here is the ironic part- neither scenario allowed me to actually enjoy the occasion, the people, the conversations or even the food I was eating! There was so much shame, guilt and anxiety with these experiences.
I'll be honest, when I first began my diet recovery, I was SO skeptical...I had spent years at war with food and I couldn't imagine any other way to live. But since my own holistic healing and through the work I now do with clients, it continues to reinforce that this is POSSIBLE for anyone who struggles with food and body image issues. More importantly, you are not alone, and there is way to get through this that leads to a happier, HEALTHIER life. Think about it...you don't diet because you ENJOY it...you diet because you think you have too. And when you "blow it", you blame yourself and feel like the solution is MORE control, MORE rules, MORE willpower. But what if I told you that's not true? In fact, you can actually have a life where you don't obsess about food, calories and dieting. It's possible to not feel out of control around food, or jump from diet to diet. It's possible to reach your health goals, without restriction.
Sure, years of dieting isn’t going to be resolved overnight, but I am happy to share some tools and mindset strategies below that you may find helpful this holiday season.
Tips From a Holistic Nutritionist and Body Image Coach:
Don't "save your calories" before an occasion: Food Restriction contributes to overconsumption. This can lead to primal hunger which is built into our DNA for survival. The surest way to overeat at dinner or a holiday meal is to restrict earlier in the day.
Listen to your body. You don't have to eat something to be polite. Choose your foods based on what you are hungry for, incorporate mindfulness (more on that below), and stop when you are full. You can ALWAYS take leftovers home, or ask your relative for the recipe of your favorite pie, so You can make it next time the desire strikes.
Utilize Mindfulness. Learning to eat mindfully is one of the main skills I teach my clients. It is something you can take with you in any situation. Pay attention to what foods look appealing to you. Make a plate and sit down to eat it. Pay attention to all five senses as you eat. What colors do you see on your plate? What do you smell? What does it sound like when you take a bite? What does the food feel like in your mouth? What do you taste? The more you pay attention to these senses, the easier it it is to register when you are full. Pay attention to that satiety(fullness)! It's not a contest to see how much we can eat during the holidays. (See tip 2 for ideas if you are nervous about not having another chance to eat a favorite holiday food.)
Don't fret if you overeat, anyway. Overeating is not a CRIME. Overeating, despite feeling uncomfortable, IS going to happen from time to time, especially as you begin to navigate identifying hunger and fullness. My tip: find ways to feel less physically uncomfortable- and this part is important- WITHOUT the side of guilt. Change into comfier clothes, sip on some peppermint tea, go for a walk.
Grab my mini program. I recently went to social media to find out what people need right now, especially with the holidays fast approaching, and hands down- people shared they are worried about overeating or emotional eating when faced with a Holiday Food Scene. I knew a blog post may not be enough for most people, so I went to work creating a resource that includes:
Strategies for navigating the holiday food scene, including setting yourself up for success with the right mindset.
Mindful eating techniques that will reduce the distractions that lead to overeating.
How to respond to food pushers, or diet talk.
What to do if you overeat, anyway.
Plus a bonus video on emotional eating and loneliness due to the pandemic.
If you would like to learn more about what is possible with diet recovery, schedule a complimentary call with me, today.
Katie is an Ann Arbor-based Holistic Nutritionist and Body Image Coach on a mission to help women stop hating on their bodies and feeling out of control around food.
Katie is a Registered Holistic Nutrition Practitioner, Licensed Body Positive Facilitator and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Public Health Education.
After overcoming her own battle with eating and body image issues, it was clear there was a need for a different kind of conversation around health. She began her virtual wellness practice in 2018 with the goal to spread the truth about taking care of our bodies, regardless of weight, and dispel the myth that health "looks" a certain way. Katie is Health at Every Size Informed and is ready to change the conversation from eating to control body size and shape, to eating for nourishment & well-being.