My main coping mechanism is definitely binge eating.
It's something I've been doing since I was a kid and, just like lots of other people, it's a habit deep ingrained in my psyche that looooovvvvveeessss to feed on this time of year. Pun intended because I'm kinda lame like that. ;-)
I'm the girl that doesn't eat dairy, chocolate, gluten, or coconut (and hasn't for years)... yet I still find myself lost for hours in the deep trenches of Pinterest holiday dessert boards.
I'm the girl who lingers by the food table at a party trying to convince myself that one tiny piece of that homemade "chocolate toffee crack" won't lead to me eating a giant piece of chocolate cake, 3 cookies, and a brownie right after.
I'm the girl who wanders the candy aisle at the supermarket, staring at the Reeses trees (why are these so much better than the cups!?) that are on "super sale" for the season.
I know I don't need it (or really even want it), but it's there in my face over and over again and my willpower works like a muscle, it gets fatigued with overuse.
So what can I do?!
If any of this sounds like you, you're not alone, and luckily, there's lots of tricks to getting through without completely ruining your plan or feeling like you're missing out! I've spent a lot of time working on my stress management and coping issues and now, while it's still tough, I no longer feel like I'm trapped on a runaway sled filled with chocolate and shame.
TIP 1: Develop a mantra or an affirmation and don't be afraid to use it constantly.
I use "Why not you" as my mantra and I use it ALL THE TIME. In the morning, when I'm exercising, when I don't feel like meal prepping, or even while I'm standing at the doorstep of a binge. I say it over and over through the day and now, when I'm faced with a decision of cheating, the mantra grounds me back to my goal. With my goal in mind, it's a lot easier to say no and that will continue to get easier as you continue to use it.
TIP 2: Track your food.
Knowing how much you're eating day to day is a fantastic tool to use any time, but it's key to not getting carried away for the holidays. Use an online tracker (I like MyFitnessPal) to calculate how many calories and nutrients you're getting. Once you realize how much you're taking in, you can be more mindful and exercise a bit more control when you find yourself in a tricky mind warp.
TIP 3: Practice Mindfulness
This piece of advice used to drive me crazy. How do I practice mindfulness when my brain is already 50 thoughts ahead of itself? It has to be built up. Just like every other routine, it's important to start small and go slow, but if you start incorporating more mindfulness into your routine now, you'll build that willpower muscle a bit more before the parties begin.
Pick something that you do every day that only takes a couple of minutes (brushing your teeth, doing the dishes, etc) and bring your focus to the activity at hand. If your mind wanders, don't get upset... just notice it and bring it back to the present moment. Bringing your attention repeatedly back to the present is like weight lifting for your brain and starting with just a few minutes a day will set yourself up for the holidays and beyond.
TIP 4: Bring your own.
I refuse to skip dessert, especially on a holiday. I want to eat well and feel good but I also REALLY don't want to miss out on the fun of indulging. That's why I always bring my own. Bringing your own dish or dessert (or both) does a few things. First of all, it's considerate to your host, so kudos on you! Secondly, it takes away the stress of what you'll be eating. You planned ahead and have a go to option every time someone asks you to hit the buffet line with them. Third of all (and probably not the last, but I'm only including three), it allows other people to try the food that you eat to show them how delicious and satisfying healthier options can be!
TIP 5: Be kind to yourself.
This is the season of giving and sometimes we get so caught up in being kind to everyone else, we forget to give that love and positivity to ourselves as well. Realistically, even with all these things, you may still "slip up" on your diet. Don't let it get to you, one unhealthy night isn't going to outweigh all the hard work you've done. You ate some food that you shouldn't have and instead of letting that snowball through the month, you can just jump right back on your plan. It's not the occasional indulgence that's the problem, so enjoy one brownie, log it in your tracker, and get up the next morning and hit the gym.
I hope these tips will help you set up your defenses so you don't go completely overboard this season. If things get too hard, take a deep breath, go outside for a breath of fresh air, and remind yourself that all of this will get easier if you keep putting it to practice.
With love & light,