How was your Thanksgiving holiday? Still eating leftovers?
There was a time in my life when the holidays (or any social occasions, for that matter) were tacit permission for free-rein eating.
I would eat as much as I could until I reached the point of physical pain. The discomfort of being too full was the only thing that stopped me from continuing to eat.
I rarely do this anymore, but I found myself back there on Thanksgiving night last week.
Justin and I attended two family dinners; and even though I planned to eat the main meal at the first gathering, and dessert at the second, lo-and-behold I served myself dinner plates at both. That second dinner plate was very small, but still, I didn’t need it.
I found myself at the point of physical discomfort.
Leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday, I discussed with many of my clients how excessive eating and drinking is built into our notion of having fun. Overeating is quite common.
Is this true for you?
If so, you may find yourself wondering why in the world you do this to yourself?!
The answer is both simple and complex.
It has to do with your wiring.
Why do we eat until the point of discomfort and even pain?
Because we are wired for survival. Our most primitive wiring is the same as all other animals in nature: we are wired to eat in the presence of food. Period.
For millennia, humans like all other species, have had to learn to survive cycles of feast and famine. When we are successful in a hunt, we are able to eat all we can and “save it for later” in the fatty cells of our thighs. Whatever we leave on the animal after the hunt, the vultures will eat or it will rot.
We are wired to eat as much as we can.
That’s pretty simple. But there are other complex forces at play too. These are the forces of your emotions.
We grew up celebrating around food. Loving each other through food. Sharing food to feel connected. Comforting each other and making each other feel special by preparing special dishes.
Food is pleasure.
Food is celebration.
Food is love.
Food is connection.
Food is comfort.
Food is pampering.
These are very strong subconscious programs. Why would you deprive yourself of pleasure? Love? Celebration? Connection? Comfort? Pampering?
Food aside, these are ALL very valid emotional needs that must be met in order for us to feel fulfilled.
Food is simply one very quick solution for these important needs. If these needs are unattended, food is all you’ve got!
If we are going through particularly stressful times –as the end of the year tends to be– we are more likely to resort to food to get that emotional satiety.
There’s little time for the luxury of a massage, or an afternoon of reading on the couch, or a day-long outing with best friends. Everyone is busy getting ready for the holiday… finishing year-end business projects… shopping… hosting family, etc.
So we have food.
Now that you know that (1) you are wired to eat all you can in the presence of food, and (2) you’re likely to overeat when emotional needs are not met, use that awareness to create a little quiet in the middle of your holiday season so you’ll be less likely to overindulge.
All you need is 5 minutes a day.
Take a few deep breaths. Go for a walk around the block. Curl up with your honey at the end of the day and talk about what good things happened. Give yourself a foot rub before bed. Make a cup of herbal tea.
BUT because you’re wired to overeat and you’re wired to use food for emotional reasons, I want to help you wrap up the season with awareness and not go down the tubes of the holiday extravaganza.
I don’t want you to roll into 2016 feeling guilty.
Wondering how I handled my overeating on Thursday night?
First, I felt zero guilt. Guilt does not burn calories or make you healthier. What I did do was fast for about 17-18 hours and then ate something small when hunger finally showed up again.
I looked at the fact that I have indeed been very stressed lately and felt some compassion for myself. I took it easy on Friday. This week I’m lightening things up significantly with juices, salads and blended soups.
What do you need to do in order to get yourself back on track?
Perhaps it’s a good time to consider taking action. And perhaps it’s time for a walk around the block or taking a nap.
I send you much love!