Many people turn to food for comfort when they’re feeling sad, stressed, depressed, or angry. The holiday season can be particularly challenging for many, and frequent gatherings with friends and family can make it easy to overindulge. Counseling sessions with a therapist can help you overcome emotional eating and help you find other ways to cope and experience comfort.
Eating to relieve stress or squelch negative emotions can lead to weight gain and exacerbate conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. The following tips will help you identify the reasons you may reach for food when you’re stressed and help you become more aware of how to break the cycle:
1. Make Time for Self-care
Sometimes it seems like everything you need to do to prepare for the holidays is urgent — but in reality, it isn’t. Taking even 15 minutes a day to nurture yourself with something besides food can reduce stress and lift your spirits. Read a book, take a bubble bath, go for a leisurely walk, or do something else you enjoy.
2. Practice Mindfulness and Self-compassion
Meditation, yoga and journaling can allow you to find your inner voice and help you observe your thoughts and feelings without becoming wrapped up in them. If you feel anxious or stressed, take some slow, deep breaths and focus on releasing the tension from your body before diving into the refrigerator to find something to eat. Ask yourself, “Am I really hungry?” Most times, the answer will be no. Avoid beating yourself up if you overeat or comfort yourself with food — being self-critical often leads to more emotional eating, not less.
3. Plan Ahead
Stock your pantry with healthy and nutritious food. If you’re going to a party or family gathering, take time to prepare yourself mentally, and remember, “No” is a complete sentence. If someone pushes you to eat or drink something you don’t want, it’s perfectly fine to decline without offering an explanation.
4. Ask for Support
Reaching out for help instead of suppressing your feelings with food can change your life, not only during the holiday season, but year-round. Talk to trusted friends and family about how you’re feeling, and ask for assistance with tasks if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Seeking counseling from a qualified therapist provides an opportunity to uncover the root causes of your emotional eating and can help you develop effective coping skills to deal with all types of issues that have been holding you back from self-growth.
The experienced and compassionate therapists at Kayenta Therapy offer counseling that can help you overcome emotional eating and lead a healthier, more joyful life. Contact a therapist directly to schedule an appointment today.