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Holiday stress eating: The pitfalls and how to avoid them

The holidays are a time for joy, celebration, and good food. But they can also be a time for stress, overindulgence, and regret. If you're a stress eater, you know the drill.

You're feeling stressed about work, family, finances, or just the general demands of the holiday season. So you reach for the cookies, the candy, the chips, and the ice cream.

And before you know it, you've eaten half your weight in festive treats. Not a great way to start the holiday season, right?

If you're looking for a way to avoid the holiday stress eating pitfalls, mindful eating can help.

Mindful eating is the practice of paying attention to your food and your eating experience without judgment. It's about being aware of your hunger and fullness cues, and choosing to eat foods that are both nutritious and enjoyable.

Even the simple act of saying grace can start you on your mindful practice.

Here are a few tips for mindful eating during the holidays:

  • Set boundaries. It's okay to say no to food that you don't want to eat, even if it's your favorite holiday treat. Remember, you can always have it later if you're still hungry.

  • Eat slowly and savor your food. Take your time to chew and appreciate the taste, texture, and aroma of your food.

  • Listen to your body. Pay attention to your hunger and fullness cues. Start eating when you're hungry, and stop eating when you're full.

  • Avoid distractions. When you're eating, try to avoid distractions like TV, your phone, and your computer. Set the table and focus on your food and your eating experience.

Of course, mindful eating isn't always easy, especially during the holidays. But it's worth it. Mindful eating can help you to avoid overeating, make healthier food choices, and enjoy your food more fully.

Did we mention there might be pitfalls? You know, because we are human......

I mean come on, the biggest pitfall is that you probably have just gotten out of the sugar comma from Halloween, right?

Your body is just primed for that extra sweets intake and the stress factors of the season do not help.

Don't despair, we've all been there.

Here's a humorous take on some of the pitfalls I've had of holiday stress eating:

  • The "I'm just going to have one" pitfall. You tell yourself that you're just going to have one cookie, but before you know it, you've eaten the entire box.

  • The "I'm too stressed to cook" pitfall. You're feeling so stressed about the holidays that you can't bring yourself to cook a healthy meal. So you order takeout, or you eat whatever happens to be in the fridge.

  • The "I'm not going to deprive myself" pitfall. You tell yourself that you deserve to indulge during the holidays, so you eat whatever you want, regardless of how healthy it is.

  • The "I'll start my diet in the new year" pitfall. You decide that you're going to start your diet after the holidays, so you give yourself permission to overeat now.

If you fall into any of these pitfalls, don't beat yourself up about it. Just pick yourself up and start again. The best thing about mindful eating is that it's a practice, not a perfect science.

So this holiday season, try to be mindful about your eating. Pay attention to your hunger and fullness cues, choose healthy foods, and savor your food. And if you slip up, don't worry about it. Just start again tomorrow.

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