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Stay Healthy During the Holidays
What's a celebration without food? Christmas just wouldn't be the same without all the baked goods, mom's home made cooking and grandma's good old fashioned recipes. Even though you know those rich sauces and sugary desserts aren't what your body needs, it's easy to get caught up in emotional eating around the holidays. So, here are some tips to avoid stress-eating and maintain a healthy weight this December.
3-Step Process to Avoid Emotional Eating
Shopping, cooking, cleaning, baking, and traveling keeps us extra busy these last few weeks of the year. For many of us, it's easy to turn to comfort food and alcohol to relieve the anxiety. We use eating to suppress or soothe our negative emotions, such as stress, anger, fear, boredom, sadness and loneliness. But food isn’t the answer. To help rein in holiday overeating, turn to this 3-step plan:
Step One: Be Aware.
Emotional eating tends to be automatic, so most of us are unconscious of the problem when we're experiencing it. One way to tell if you're falling into bad eating habits is to keep a food journal. Write down where you eat, when you eat and what you eat. At the office? Late at night? When you're alone? Look for patterns in your own behavior.
Step Two: Find an Alternative.
Whenever you want to remove a bad habit, you have to put something else in its place. Replace stress eating with a healthy alternative. Here are some ideas!
Find a stress-reducing activity. Bundle up and go for a 30 minute walk outside by yourself. If it's warm, take a bike ride with a friend or head to the gym and shoot some hoops. Physical activity is one of the BEST ways to reduce stress and take care of your body. If you're low on energy, you could also make time to rest. Go out and get a massage, sign up for a yoga class or take a nap.
Engage your brain. Distract yourself from emotional eating with an activity that requires brain power to refocus your thoughts on something else besides food. Curl up with a good book. Try a Sudoku puzzle. Call a close friend or family member whom you haven't spoken with in awhile. Emotional support helps reduce stress, too.
Keep a healthy diet. Don't let the holiday schedule derail your typical eating routine. When you skip meals, you're not giving your body that energy it needs to function properly, causing you to overeat later on. We also tend to dine out at restaurants or opt for fast food when traveling and visiting friends and family. So, when you are at home, be sure to eat fruits and vegetables and unprocessed foods. Treats are okay, too, if they are in small portions.
Need a quick fix? Try these.
Give yourself a foot massage. Take off your shoes, grab a comfortable seat, and place your foot over a tennis ball. Rub each foot, one at a time, over the top of the ball until you're feeling relaxed. Self massage is known to lower your level of cortisol and slow your heart rate.
Try this, not that. If you need something to munch on, at least consider a healthy snack. Craving something salty? Consider pistachios -- they're packed with healthy fats, fiber and help regulate blood sugar. Need something sweet? Reach for a clementine. Peeling the orange and smelling the citrusy scent can actually create a meditative moment to calm your mind.
Sip black tea. Calm things down with a nice cup of tea. Black tea is also known to reduce your cortisol levels, the stress hormone that makes you crave food.
Step Three: Practice Makes Perfect
Whether it be journaling, self-massage, jigsaw puzzles or connecting with friends -- find a rhythm that speaks to you. Try out different techniques and keep practicing good habits!
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