Last week we touched on the importance of sleep, an important part of managing stress (the topic of the month). Quality food goes hand in hand with sleep in managing stress. Eating well gives us energy to do what we need to do.
Eating well can be difficult this time of year due to parties and the sheer amount of tasks to complete. It’s easy to let meals go and eat poorly. When you think about it, people overeat this time of year for the following reasons:
1. In response to stress, to deal with difficult emotions, or feeling deprived. I have found that what’s often behind this is “an excuse to eat” the enjoyable foods around this time of year (and it’s often linked with #2). This can blossom in children who feel restricted or deprived.
2. Guilt. Termed the “what-the-hell effect,” this is what happens when you finally eat something you think you shouldn’t, feel guilty, and then eat more. This is heightened during the holidays as people anticipate a more restrictive approach to eating in the New Year.
3. External eating. Eating simply because food is there or to finish all the food on one’s plate instead eating of based on internal cues of hunger. Food is around a lot during the holidays!
4. Not paying attention. Research shows people eat more when not paying attention at meals because the brain is less likely to register fullness. It’s tempting to multitask (eat lunch at the computer) this time of year.
5. Skipping meals. Not eating for long periods to get stuff done can make hunger feel out of control. Then you’ll grab anything.
What’s not on this list is food enjoyment. Often, people think they or their children eat too much during the holidays because of the tasty food. But if we put food as a priority by planning meals, sitting to enjoy them (or saving them for later instead of eating when we see them), letting internal cues guide eating, and giving ourselves permission to eat what we truly want, overeating loses its luster.
This week, let’s be mindful of our family’s eating this time of year. Are your kids picking up on any of the 5 habits? How can making food a priority during this time of year help?