The whole month of December can be awful for someone with eating issues. First off, there’s the plethora of parties that are going on as well the cookie exchanges and the office luncheon. Then there are gift baskets full of food everywhere, there are chocolates sitting in the office kitchen, bowls of peppermint bark and peppermint hot chocolates beckoning, and not to mention appreciation dinners and luncheons. Couple that with cold weather and craving warm comfort food and you’ve got a recipe for a binge.
All of this food can make someone feel helpless against its allure and a binge can feel inevitable. Often it can feel as though the binge is happening to you and taking over your rational choice rather than you choosing to make certain decisions. It’s not that these are “bad” foods or situations that you need to avoid. The problem is that sometimes the draw of the food can tap into the compulsive part of your brain– you might feel as though you’ve begun eating without even making a conscious choice to. You might find yourself in a daze munching on Christmas cookies in your cubicle and then, as you begin to realize what you’ve done, you might begin to feel angry at yourself and helpless and spin out into a binge because you did something that you did not intend to. There is also the fact that the January 1st New Years Resolution date is looming, so you might figure, ‘binge in December, I’ll start fresh in January.’ There are also imminent family obligations that might be a source of stress. Whatever it is, December can be a month for binge eating.
It doesn’t have to be though.
1.)Don’t use the impending New Year as an excuse to binge. No “I will lose 10 pounds” New Years resolutions this year. Each morning, when you wake up, begin anew by telling yourself, “today I will do my best to go toward health and wellness.” And each morning, set a mini goal for yourself. A mini goal might be, “I will allow myself to sample some office goodies intentionally and consciously, but will not binge on them,” or “I will do 10 minutes of meditation at some point today,” or “I will reach out for support today if I want to binge or if I’ve already begun eating something that I didn’t intend to in order to prevent a binge.”
2.)Don’t engage in black & white thinking. If you find yourself eating something unconsciously, like snacking on chocolates from a bowl in your office or eating too many bagels one morning, don’t let that turn into a binge. Remember that it happens. Just because you ate a handful of Hershey’s kisses, doesn’t mean you have to spend the rest of the day bingeing on cookies and cakes and eggnog or whatever else it is. Stop, take a breath, and be kind to yourself. Take a moment to reorient yourself and bring yourself back to the present. What happened? How did you wind up at the chocolate bowl? Was it a conscious choice or were you putting something off, or were you upset or stressed about something? Think backwards to what might have happened. Forgive yourself and accept that it happens. Make a plan for something else that you’re going to do to make you feel good about yourself that day. If you think that you might not be able to resist, call a support person and tell them that you’re feeling shaky because of the unintentional kisses, but your intention is not to binge and you could use a check in call. Let them know that you’ll call them at the end of the day.
3.)Focus on people rather than food. Before holiday parties or luncheons, make sure that you’ve eaten before you go so that you are able to focus on the people around you rather than the food. If you find that you are only focused on food, take some time to breath and try to refocus on someone interesting. Make a goal for yourself at the party, such as, you are going to talk to 3 new people and try to focus on that rather than food.
4.)Don’t drink too much at holiday functions. Binge drinking is a prelude to binge eating. It immediately brings you into an unconscious state which then does not allow you to have a choice around food.
5.)Be cautious about leftovers. If you host a party, either have someone help you to clean up or have someone else clean up for you. Often for hostesses with eating issues, it’s not the party that’s challenging, it’s cleaning up. Leftovers can be a huge binge trigger for many people. If tit is for you, give them away or bring them down to a hungry/homeless person.
6.)Don’t keep trigger foods at your desk at work. Just because the holidays are here doesn’t mean you need to have a bowl of candy on your desk for people. If you must bring it, put it out of reach from yourself so that you need to actually think about what you’re doing every time you get up to grab something.
7.)Eat a breakfast with lots of protein each morning. This will keep you satisfied and your blood sugar stable so that you’re not looking for a pick me up come mid-morning.
8.)Recommend a Wellness program at your office. Instead of junk food, suggest that people bring fruit baskets. Make a suggestion that the food baskets you receive be donated to a homeless shelter nearby. See about starting a lunchtime yoga class for your office.
9.)Stay active. The winter months are a good excuse to hibernate. Don’t succumb. Get out of the house or office. Take a vigorous walk during your lunch break. Go ice skating! Go window shopping! Move. Activity is a stress reliever. Letting go of stress will help you not binge.
Next up: Dealing with stressful family events during the holidays….
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