Normally this would be the perfect time of year to do a post about holiday eating tips… but these aren’t exactly normal times. Due to the pandemic, many of us won’t be gathering with friends and relatives for drinks, dinners, cookie exchange parties, and general merriment. Instead, I thought I’d share a few tips on how to control stress and emotional eating. Modern humans eat for many different reasons.
Obviously we eat when we’re hungry, but many of us also tend eat when we’re anxious, stressed, sad, lonely, or even bored. The holidays are already a stressful time for many, and with COVID-19 worsening, many of us are more stressed and anxious than usual… which is a nasty recipe for over eating and over drinking. Below are a few of my tips for staying on course through the upcoming holiday season this year.
This simply means to slow down and bring awareness to your meals. Savor your foods aroma; as you chew notice the taste and texture of your food. Put your fork down between every bite. Eating slowly and mindfully gives the stomach time to signal the brain that we’re full.
Staying hydrated through each day has many health benefits but can also help stave off hunger. When you find yourself mindlessly reaching for an unhealthy snack, stop and drink some water, wait ten minutes, and then re-evaluate whether you’re actually hungry or not.
KEEP HEALTHY SNACKS IN YOUR HOUSE
Have heathy snacks that you enjoy and are quick and easy to eat on hand at all times. Some of my favorites are fruit, hard boiled eggs, and nuts.
LIMIT ALCOHOL INTAKE
So word on the street is that some of us are drinking a bit more than our pre-pandemic norm. The holidays are already famous of over-indulgence, but let’s not let the added stress of the 2020 holiday season contribute to poor alcohol choices. Think back to your pre-COVID consumption levels – and assuming those weren’t abusive – start by aiming for those levels.
Exercising has a multitude of health (and brain) benefits, and a regular exercise routine will help burn more calories and give you an outlet for dealing with 2020 holiday stressors!
This might seem like an odd tip for healthy eating, but taking a few minutes at the beginning or end of each day to reflect on things you are thankful for can go a long way in improving your mental health. These can be small things… maybe your morning coffee, the time you spent with a spouse of child, or the meal you just ate!
Here’s another tip that may not be intuitive for healthy eating, but when we decrease the causes of our stress/anxiety, we’re less likely to engage in unhealthy eating patterns. We are currently living in unprecedented times. Here in the United States, we are experiencing the most extreme political divisiveness in our lifetimes. Regardless of where you stand politically, or on mask mandates and remain-in-place orders, try practicing extreme empathy. The person who believes masks are critical for collective safety and the person who feels masks infringe on our personal freedoms are not your enemy, but rather your neighbor! Just because someone doesn’t hold the exact same beliefs as you doesn’t make them a bad person. Challenge yourself to have a civil discussion with those that hold different beliefs and use that opportunity to practice love and empathy… after all, ’tis the season!
As we head into the 2020 holiday season, let’s try to remember the big picture. We’re supposed to relax and spend time with loved ones and share our joy with one another. While many of us will not be celebrating the way we normally would, let’s do our best to stay healthy and stay positive!