The Psychology Behind Holiday Hunger?

Written by Eliot LeBow, LCSW, CDE

So I was asking myself the other day how was I going to handle all the food I will encounter today. It’s Thanksgiving after all and food will be everywhere. I have extra insulin with me but I have been down this road before. Feeling good while eating the food but sick later on into tomorrow. I’ve played this tape countless times and the outcome never changes I only end up feeling guilty and bad in the end.

Why do we do it? The first thought I had, was it culture or family dynamics? I ruled both out as an excuse. ‘Cause no one forces you to eat or will care what you eat or don’t eat.

If they do, are they thinking about your health or needs? You might hear “I spent all that time cooking…” or “After I slaved over that hot stove…” So you might end up feeling guilty over someone else’s choice to cook. It was their choice to cook, not yours.

Whether you give in or not you might feel angry or frustrated.

Angry or Frustrated!

For some it is all food! The craving to eat causes the overeating or eating when one is not hungry.

Back to holiday/emotional eating! Most people eat when emotional. The emotion doesn’t matter really. Happy, Sad, Angry or Frustrated it is all the same when it comes to eating. There is a tendency to eat when one is not hungry because of their emotions or even to avoid an emotion. The feeling of being left out of the group when everyone else is eating can create pressure to eat.

Some of you reading are saying “but wait no one does any of that to me and it’s a joy to get together with my family”. Maybe so, but think about all the things you have to do or think about for and during the event. Is it stressful? If yes, then there you go. Stressful events in life, even happy ones can cause emotional eating.

There are other ways like meditation, but eating does reduce stress. Although temporarily, it does!

In the end, to avoid unnecessary eating, be alert and aware of your emotional state.

Before you put any food in your mouth:
Think about why you are about to eat (Are you hungry or is it something else?)
Play the tape of what will happen after (How you will feel emotionally and physically?)
Then make your decision…

To eat or not to eat? That is the question!

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Eliot LeBow, LCSW, CDE, is a diabetes-focused psychotherapist, diabetes-coach, presenter, and writer. His private practice is located in New York City and is also available via Skype. LeBow, who has been living with type 1 diabetes since 1977, treats the many diverse cognitive, behavioral, and emotional needs of people living with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Diabetes-focused psychotherapy takes a holistic approach combining traditional talk therapy with diabetes education and management help. It addresses both the physical and emotional aspects of living life with diabetes while still addressing other non-diabetes related life problems to create a unique holistic approach to help people with diabetes thrive. For more information go to his website or Facebook Page or setup a free 30 minute phone consultation to see if talk therapy is right for you.