A Weighty Issue: Me and My Platter of Holiday Cookies
'Tis the season for connecting with friends and family through parties and get-togethers. Obviously, these gatherings frequently involve delicious (and caloric) holiday foods. The ritual of eating is both nourishing and comforting and connects us to our earliest and most primitive urges and relationships. The kinds of foods present at a celebration are especially evocative of this connection. Most people don't raise a festive glass of ice water to toast the season! We are biologically and socially programmed to love the egg nog, people!
Recognize that the holiday season can be stressful for a variety of issues. The interplay between food, weight, and relationships can create almost a trifecta of stressors. In my clinical work I often hear from clients—usually women—about their struggles with weight issues. The holiday season can compound and intensify emotionality around eating. Should I eat that third sugar cookie? Will my boss be insulted if I pass on his fruitcake at the holiday party? Why did my mother mention that these pants make my butt look big?! Eating at this time a year (or not eating) can be an emotional minefield.
Maintaining a healthy body weight is never just a matter of watching carbs and counting points, but many people underestimate the emotional underpinnings of their weight struggles.
It's important to realize that holiday eating is challenging for most people. I urge client's to reflect on what they are feeling before they reach for that second slice of pumpkin pie. Perhaps you just really love the pie and want to treat yourself. But if you are feeling an uncomfortable emotion and are looking for a way to cope, it may benefit you to step away from the buffet and spend a few moments really examining what is actually going on. Becoming more aware of the interplay between emotions and actions will give you the information to make conscious choices in all aspects of your life. Maintaining a healthy weight is important, but I would argue that developing a healthy relationship with your body is a far more rewarding gift you can give yourself.