Some of these emotions are welcome, others… we could certainly do without.
But if you’re built like me, they all have one thing in common – they make me want to vigorously bite, chomp, chew, sip, and swallow.
If you’re happy and you know it… celebrate with pie! (The whole pie!)
If you’re sad and you it know it… numb with ice cream!
If you’re frustrated and you have no idea why… order a pizza!
During the holidays, it seems that no matter which prong on the fork we end up with, all emotional roads lead to food!
Emotional Overeating and Binge Eating During the Holidays
You’d think that a nice little break from work followed by trips back home or visits from family members would be enjoyable – a little vacation, if you will.
Sometimes we even trick ourselves into thinking it’s going to be that easy. That is, until we realize how much there is to coordinate, plan, organize, cook, and buy – how many smiles need to be flashed, how many compliments need to be forced, and how much tiptoeing, worrying, and passive aggressiveness is just around the corner, hidden behind all of the miracles on 34th Street.
Amongst the glimmering lights, shiny paper, oversized bows, and re-reruns of A Christmas Story, there are stressors and triggers – that I’m going to refer to today as my holiday headaches. Dun, dun, dun…!
My 5 Holiday Headaches:
If I had a nickel for every time I worried about money… I could afford to buy my entire extended family 2016 BMW’s. But money doesn’t grow on any tree, especially not “The Worry Tree”.
So every year, I go through this fun self-talk cycle… Am I going to be able to afford to buy everyone a present? Who gets put on the backburner if I can’t? Why can’t I just earn more money? All of my distant relatives are going to know how not together I am. The jig is up!
Now, I think I’m going to sneak away long enough to… BINGE.
2. Everyone else’s feelings
Uncle Jim can’t sit next to cousin Sarah because of neighbor Ben’s feelings about Aunt Tina. And Grandma Laura has to nap by 3 or she’ll start throwing hard candy that’s been fused to the bottom of her handbag since 1998!
And what about Mom’s tendency to cry over spilt… anything? And Dad’s bad hip? And… how about I just keep mindlessly shoveling chips into my mouth until it all goes away?
Cue EMOTIONAL OVEREATING.
3. Playing Dress Up
Family parties, friend parties, work parties… black tie, white pants, ugly Christmas sweaters, little red dresses. Can’t I just wear festive socks? You know what?
Forget it. How about I stay home and order in some Chinese instead?… BINGE.
4. Getting Caught
With so much company around, eating for comfort can feel off-limits because if you get caught, your secret’s out. But the nervousness of eating in front of others and the obsessive worrying about what others might think/say is all too much! So, I’ll just “prove” I can eat like everyone else!
And when the spiked eggnog does its job – no one will even notice that I haven’t stopped chewing in over four hours because I’m… EMOTIONALLY EATING!
5. Celebratory Eating
America is the land of hopes, dreams, freedom and copious amounts of food during times of celebration.
Everyone else is having a good time, snacking and sipping and hey – I’m doing it, too! But am I doing it too much? Do I really need to celebrate THIS much? Does this even count as celebrating at this point? Am I overeating? Is this bingeing? Am I just having a good time? What is happening!?
What Happened To The Holidays?
When did the season once marked by mistletoe, spice-scented candles, and a jolly reindeer with a battery-operated clown nose get so convoluted?
It’s bullsh*t. I used to get so pumped up when it was time to hang the advent calendar and even more excited to sneak up to my brother’s room to open stockings at 6:00 am on Christmas morning.
And when it came to food – I ate it, I loved it, and that was that.
Related Article: Holiday Musings: Learning from Overindulgence
Just because we’ve grown up and our relationships with food might be stickier than Christmas morning cinnamon buns right now, it doesn’t mean we don’t deserve kindness, happiness, and tastiness.
Allow yourself to enjoy rare foods that you only get to savor when certain relatives are in town. Don’t punish yourself for an extra bite or a second helping.
Food may fight like hell to be the center of our attention, but try not to think of it as a reward or to treat it like only guest that “gets” you (as hard as that may be). It’s just a single piece of the big obnoxious, fun, frustrating, and joyous puzzle that is the holiday season.
You Can’t Steal My Holly
So, first thing’s first, don’t beat yourself up over things like money and presents. Society keeps tricking us, year after year, into believing that “stuff” is going to induce smiles, fix problems, and make memories.
Secondly, we need to make sure that our self-care routines don’t go down the drain while we try to save everyone else from drowning in their own sorrows (or Grandma’s secret stash of scotch).
Third of all, a fun time at that party is not going to be determined by your outfit. I learned that in college when I was 130 pounds, wearing the cutest and tiniest skirts, obnoxiously matching from head to toe… and always miserable – because I was unhappy inside.
Lastly, we’ve got to stop worrying about what other people think about our eating habits, our snack schedules, how many times we chew per bite, our food-related everythings – We’re going to earn ourselves an invitation to the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party with all of this fortunetelling, hypothesizing, and assuming… in other words, we’re going to drive ourselves crazy.
It’s so easy to let the rest of the world eclipse your happiness during a fragile moment, especially during the holidays. But screw ‘em!
‘Tis the season to be jolly and I’m going to slap the Grinch out of anyone who tries to steal my smile, my laughter, or my friggin’ holly this year.
Until next time,
P.S. Do you have any holiday self-care strategies or thoughts you’d like to share with us today? Please feel safe and welcomed to comment in the section below.