Tag Archives: overeating

holiday eating

Holiday Eating Or Holiday Sabotage?

Holiday eating or holiday sabotage? Is this a time to embrace indulgences or battle temptations? Depends on one’s outlook. If you read the last article on cheater’s diets then this is an especially wonderful season. Approach with caution or dive in blindfolded. So, what’s the plan?

Holiday Eating: comfort or enjoyment

Meals this time of year are a mix of celebration and de-stressing. Admittedly, we’re well aware that binge eating to deal with life only intensifies overall anxiety and conditions such as high blood pressure. Identifying what’s burdening our minds and planning how to manage the tension will help us enjoy food as a benefit, not a detriment. With a little extra effort towards time management, particularly with sleep and eating schedules, we can adore the holidays, not try to “survive” them. Common sense is always prevalent, but it may not be as common as we thought.

We are not livestock

“Grazing” became mainstream around the late ’90s. “Eat six or more small meals per day to increase metabolism and prevent weight gain.” As with most nutritional advice generated during this era, evidence was largely anecdotal with little or no long-term observations of a large participant group. Studies at the Salk Institute and in the British Journal of Nutrition show that there is no significant metabolic surge from higher frequency eating. There was no difference in total energy expenditure when the same quantity of daily calories was spread through increased meal times. We may actually gain weight. That’s a lot of time spent for meal breaks. More time is required to measure and balance the proper quantity and quality of nutrients over an extended eating schedule. The reality is opportunities for overeating are multiplied. How do we measure and stop when we’re 80 percent full?

Right time, right place

The studies above also suggested that when we eat is just as crucial as what we eat. Nutrient Timing has gained much traction in fitness performance discussions, but these methods are not restricted to athletes. A great place to start is working with our medical advisors to appreciate what’s happening in our bodies, particularly with hormones. Accepting our ever-changing physiques and lifestyles brings understanding to how foods affect us. We may have to give up some, but we may gain a lot more.

More is a broad category. Some more myths include calories in, calories out, and negative calories. The body has the ability to hoard fat storage regardless of caloric expenditure, and intensified activity is not correlated to bigger eating. Foods that require more energy to digest than they contain are theoretical. According to a study by Harvard University: “…conventional wisdom ― to eat everything in moderation, eat fewer calories and avoid fatty foods ― isn’t the best approach.” We may lose or prevent weight gain, however, the results are likely temporary, and overall health may decline.

Eat to live

We consume food; food does not consume us. Keep it simple. Periodically spend a little time to learn how to eat. Nutrition needs to enhance our life, not drive it. I love food, I enjoy eating clean, I endorse cheating — but there’s a difference between fan and fanatical.

How to Deal with a Craving

How To Deal With A Craving: Hit The Reset Button

The way I see a craving is this: We are hit with an emotional trigger, causing us anxiety or some other discomfort we prefer to avoid. Due to habitual associations made over time with food, taste and pleasure, we shift right to autopilot, seeking answers elsewhere, outside of ourselves. That’s all it is, a habit on autopilot, a learned pattern that leads us to feel good and relieved by feeding our emotions, such as worries and fears.

When feeling like a, b, or c, we need to feed it with x, y or z. Now, of course, there are exceptions here, such as chemical imbalances or reactions to certain medications; but how often, realistically, is this the case? Can the pattern be broken?

The good news is there is always light at the end of the tunnel. A possible avenue to explore: You are hit with a craving. Instead of moving directly into autopilot mode, hit the brake, hard, and stop. Reverse, reset, and break the pattern. In this moment, where is your head? Is it still stuck on yesterday, or is it already jumping into tomorrow? Most likely you are not fully present and living in the here and now.

Ask yourself, “What do I really need right now?” Chances are it is not what the autopilot is leading you, or urging you, to stuff into your mouth. Possibly what you really are looking for is something like a hug, a foot rub, a call from a friend, or some form of human connection. Maybe it’s water, breath or rest.

Take a moment — a mental and physical time out. Relax your eyes and face. Loosen your shoulders and hands. Shake out your wrists. Get in touch with physical body in the present moment, and connect your body to your mind. There really is something to this mind-body stuff, and conquering your cravings is a big part of it!

Now ask yourself what you need to feel right now. If it is, in fact, hunger talking to you, listen within to what it is you really need to taste to be fulfilled, or to ingest to increase your energy, and operate at an optimal level. When we don’t check in, and listen within, we may succumb to that craving, which oftentimes isn’t feeding us what we really need on a physiological level, leaving us feeling lower than optimal, emotionally and physically. We are left wondering why we are not at the top of our game, disappointed with life and ourselves. This can bleed over into many aspects of life, not just physical functioning and energy management; not just burning out on that workout you had planned, but also at work, academics, decision-making, relationship management, etc.

If your body is not, in fact, hungry and in need of nourishment, ask, “What do I need to feel right now?” Again, check in, and listen in. Your body is always talking to you, and it will always send you the message of what it needs; we just need to stop and take a moment to listen. The thing about listening to our truth is that we need to be present, not stuck milling over the past or worrying about the future. We will hear the message, the gift, the truth of what we need to give ourselves. When we make this our habit, our “autopilot,” things start to happen in our life. Amazing things may start happening, and not just with cravings, and we make better food choices. This can open us up to doing and choosing the right things for us in many areas.

Changing our “autopilot” mode — our habits — can be difficult at times, but if we are committed to doing the work and being honest with ourselves, it will pay off. Challenge yourself. Question your instincts next time you are craving that thing you know you don’t really need. Amazing things can happen if we are willing to try, trust and do the work.  Enjoy the road ahead!

For more information about dealing with cravings, visit laura-madden.com.