Updated: Apr 30, 2019
Chris Rea’s holiday classic, “Driving Home for Christmas”, is a hopeful, happy tune most likely written with all the families commuting cross-country to visit their tribes in mind. While many feel as hopeful and happy about the drive home for Christmas as the tune would suggest, many others feel nothing but anxiety on the road towards a merry holiday season.
There's a saying 'If you feel enlightened, go stay with your family for a week', which perfectly depicts the intensity of Christmas celebrations.
Small annoyances between siblings escalate, the parents’ obligatory tendency to dredge up the past gets everyone down, and, the family at large giving your new partner the third-degree will work up sympathy-sweats. Rings a bell?
Family get-togethers can be particularly triggering if you never found your family-home as a safe haven, or if you have a highly complex relationships with your parents and/or other family members.
For people prone to emotional eating and bingeing during Christmas and the festive season, being forced into a situation with so many triggers and negative associations, can be extremely challenging.
Add to that the abundance of fatty, sugary foods readily available in every supermarket and corner of the house, and things can quickly get overwhelming. Here are a few hacks that will get you through the Christmas season without giving in to emotional eating or bingeing.
Water instead of alcohol and caffeine
Yes, I am serious. It’s true that alcohol is the go-to-remedy for uncomfortable or forced-family-fun situations, but it can also work counterintuitively by spiking everyone’s emotional levels to an all-time high: dangerous territory.
While alcohol can sound like the natural go-to during festivities, it also causes our blood sugar to get out of whack, causing uncontrollable binge urges and cravings. By chugging water instead of booze, you will help your brain trick your psychological cravings.
It's as easy to have too much coffee during the Christmas period, so keep an eye on your intake and keep those urges in check that way- caffeine increase adrenaline and cortisol, that way intensifying the cravings for sugar and simple carbs.
Shut Down the Table’s Food-Pusher
“Oh, go on then, one more”, “Treat yourself, it’s Christmas”, “But I made these especially for you!” – these are some of the common phrases you’ll hear from food-pushers, i.e. those members of your family – mothers, grandmas we’re looking at you! – who can’t rest until everyone around the table is completely stuffed. They don’t mean any harm, in fact, it is their unique way of expressing love, but if overeating triggers your emotional or binge-eating habits, it will challenge your personal practice of self-love.
It's ok to say no- be firm and gentle at the same time. Often comments people make are a reflection of their own insecurities. Reassure that you're fine and throw the ball in their court 'Thank you, I'm good. But it sounds like you would like another piece?'
Put Pen to Journal
One practice that has proven beneficial for many is journaling. Recording your thoughts and emotions on paper can help you work through it and let go of them, and this can be particularly healing during bouts of emotional food cravings.
Sit down to journal whenever you feel the need to binge arise. Your journal is a safe space for your eyes only, so approach it – and yourself – with honesty and kindness.
Emotional eating and compulsive overeating are often closely linked to dopamine release. Turn to exercise to give you the same surge instead and watch it also work on your moods.
Ok, you may not be able to go to the gym and do a full workout while staying with family, but what's the closest to that? Perhaps you can commit to stretching the the morning or doing one or two yoga videos online? A brisk walk or a longer hike could be just as beneficial.
Get Plenty of Sleep
In order to keep your hormone household in check, it is vital to get plenty of sleep. Remember that sleep equals resilience and you may need every drop of that during festivities.
Try to avoid screens – yes, even the small ones such as your phone – at least an hour before going to sleep and find a bedtime ritual such as a soothing bath, journaling or reading to help you wind down and shake off the day.
Are you ready to curb sugar cravings, emotional eating and manage your weight, naturally? Start with downloading my FREE 7 day Curb the Crave meal plan HERE.
Feel like you need more support and accountability? Book a FREE discovery session to discuss your situation, goals and next steps HERE.