Thoughtful vs. Emotional Eating

It is that time of year again – the holidays. Beginning with Thanksgiving, and ending with New Years, over a month of parties, family gatherings, and eating! Food is a staple of the holidays whether it be of old family recipes or endless plates of delicious appetizers at your office Christmas party. Food, and lots of it, is a constant temptation during the winter months.

Woman enjoys a bite of chocolate while practicing a mindful eating approach instead of emotional eating

However, the holidays can also be a hard time for many. Whether you have lost a loved one, you must spend the holidays alone, or you are experiencing outside stressors in your life – the holidays can bring up feelings that are not joyful. Some people look to food to help dull the feelings the holidays might bring. This is known as emotional eating. It is one thing to grab a rare pint of ice cream from the corner store and watch your favorite romcom, but once emotional eating becomes a habit it can become a problem.

What Defines Emotional Eating

Emotional eating is when someone, consciously or unconsciously, turns to food to escape feelings. Someone may eat when they are feeling stressed, angry, sad, bored, or lonely. On the surface, emotional eating does not seem like that big of a deal, but any time you look to escape your emotions, it can turn into something bigger. You should focus on eating thoughtfully during the holidays.

Eating thoughtfully? That may sound a bit ridiculous, but it is a simple way to avoid emotional eating. A synonym for thoughtful can be mindful, and being mindful means being focused on the present. That means addressing what is happening to your mind and body at each moment and acknowledging that not everything feels great. This allows you to have an open mind to what may be bothering you and addressing it as it comes, rather than opening and eating an entire bag of chips in one sitting.

How Does Mindful Eating Work?

Mindful eating is essentially the opposite of mindless eating. You take a second to slow down and acknowledge what you are putting in your body. Are you actually hungry? Are you just bored? Are you sad or stressed? The holidays can be stressful just as much as they are wonderful – and eating does not have to be your escape. Instead, maybe it is time to talk to a professional about your thoughts. Maybe you can start a new hobby to take your mind off things. Take a brisk walk and sweat out the stress. There are endless activities you can do to properly cope with emotions associated with the holidays that do not include eating.

Now, you may think we are just trying to be the Grinch taking away all the delicious fun of the holidays. That is far from what we are trying to say. There is no shame in indulging in the sugary deliciousness of the holiday season – but your indulgence should not be escapism. We are suggesting you find healthy coping mechanisms for any emotion that may arise during this winter.

If you or someone you love is struggling with the stresses that come with the holiday season, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Florida Counseling Centers wants to help you find the best treatment and healthy coping mechanisms to allow you to live the happiest and healthiest life possible.

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