It’s one more form of emotional eating that isn’t (just) related to your in-laws.
The Holidays are Coming
“I look forward to them! And brace for them as well. Why are they always so stressful? It must be because there is so much more to do during the holidays. I’m busy enough as it is and tired at the end of the day.
“Throw in chasing after gifts, making up cards, attending work and school parties and events, baking and planning and no wonder I’m stressed. But those are fun things, why am I a bit weary still?
“Well for one it is a lot to get done, so that’s part of it. But it also means I’m going to be out of my routine for 2 weeks or so. I’m used to eating a certain way, going to bed and waking up at a certain time and then spending my energy on all of the various things that make up the routine of my day.
“Where’s my energy going to go now? It’s kind of going to be like when I go on vacation, the first days are about orienting myself and fighting with my spouse and I’m exhausted just trying to figure it all out. No routine to guide me from one thing to the next, stabilizing me.
“The holidays will be like that too. Hectic energy spent and then feeling antsy, like I need to do something else. That’s why I eat, food soothes that nervous, unspent energy and grounds me. Maybe I need to give myself some kind of structure over the holidays so that I’m less susceptible to using food. Nothing too hard but just enough to keep me occupied, interested and sane.
“Maybe I’ll schedule walks, projects I wanted to tackle around the house, or even catching up on some books I’ve been wanting to read. Yeah, that will help. Of course I’ll likely end up doing none of those and binging on Netflix instead but I’ll still feel good for at least making a plan.
“That’s not all that stresses me out. I’m not always aware but I get kind of anxious when I’m around extended family for too long or too much. It can be hard to pretend that you like someone or to hold your tongue when uncle James drinks too much and acts out.
“I sometimes want to leave early or say no to some gatherings. But feel I can’t. If I do then they’ll ask why I went to so-and-so’s gathering the other day and not theirs etc.? The family might be ‘disappointed’ in me and remind me every chance they get for the next 6 years. Do I want that extra stress? I know they’re using guilt but knowing doesn’t help. It’s still an effective weapon against me.
“Oh well, good thing there will be food there to compensate and help ground me. I can eat my way through the party and get something pleasurable out of it. It’s not always like that though, some of my family are really nice and I enjoy being there, yet I’m still mildly anxious for some reason. It’s like this buzz in the background that makes me tense. Pass the shortbread again.
No more Distraction
“Another reason I overeat during the holidays is that life slows down as well as speeds up. There are large periods of the day where I have nothing to do or am just waiting around for the next place to go.
“In other words, work and life are not there to distract me anymore. I am left alone with myself and all of my issues that have been continuously put aside throughout the year, come to the surface and it’s not fun.
“I had no idea what to do with them before and even less right now. As a matter of fact I was barely aware of them. I just knew I felt off, tired, spent and sometimes empty. Having a structured day took my mind off all of that and allowed me to make it to the weekend each and every time.
“So, again I turn to food. It’s called comfort eating for a reason right? It calms me down and makes me feel sleepy even. Ah food, the drug of choice but with much fewer consequences.
The Sin of NOT enjoying Holiday Food
“So I know I have a holiday stress eating problem, and that I should try to get that under control. Yet at the same time the food is so good! You don’t get to eat like this all the time and sharing the bounty with family and loved ones is part of the enjoyment and fun of being with them.
“I don’t want to go off my diet, have at it and pay the price when it’s over. So much hard work lost. But damned if I’m not going to indulge as well. So, here’s what I’ll do.
“I’m going to eat whatever the hell I want. But I’m going to give myself a plan at the same time. I’m going to give myself ‘windows’ where I get a free pass with no rules during certain gatherings or at certain times throughout the holidays. That way I won’t miss out and can eat to my hearts content guilt and restriction free.
“But I’m also going to plan to eat strict during the non window periods, or even skip a meal if the previous one has me calling for help just to get out of my chair. That way I’ll take on minimal damage when it’s over and will likely regain my normal weight within a couple of weeks. Win-win.
“Oh I’ll still have my stress eating problem, but at least I can manage the weight aspect of it. The emotional part is much more involved which takes time and lots of contemplation, and is a different beast completely. It’s related to eating at all as a matter of fact.
“It’s about anxiety. Food is just one of the ways I numb myself from it. I can get over that though. It’s a gradual process, but in the meantime I can manage my eating in such a way that I can enjoy my holidays and not worry so much about guilt and the scale.
“As for my in-laws, well, I may have a plan to ‘manage’ them too …
” … who am I kidding. Nobody can overcome the annoying power of ‘The In-Law.‘ That power is almost as old as time itself. But I can dream.
Eat, drink and be merry.
THE EATING LOVE GUIDE (FREE)
The Eating Love Guide has helped many people regain control of their eating patterns, resulting not only in weight loss but also better health and improved self-esteem. To read it online, click here.