Anxiety of overeating.
Christmas is known to be a time of over indulgence, of all things that are not too great for your waist line (or your pocket, as you may have read in my previous blog). If you’ve been spending time this year watching your weight, have been on a diet or have created healthier habits for yourself, then the thought of Christmas being around the corner can make you feel pretty stressed out. In fact, the thought of all the will power needed to walk past the constant overload of chocolates laid on by your well-meaning family/friends/colleagues can be pretty distracting… ask me how, I know! ;)
Maybe you have a different way of eating than the rest of your family and that brings up feeling of anxiety. YES, I have been here too. As a vegetarian since I was 16, I’ve had to endure years of ridicule at most family events which, if I wasn't such a strong-minded, stubborn sod could easily have affected me really negatively. And I will admit, sometimes it did! (more on anxiety and family in my next blog).
For those of us that exercise pretty good self-control during the rest of the year, December just seems like it's full of excuses to over-eat, eat stuff we don’t normally eat and generally fill our faces AND our bodies with extra calories and chemicals that we just don’t need.
There is so much that I could write on how eating and food is intrinsically linked to our mental and emotional health as well as our physical health, but I will save that for another blog post.
Anxiety is never fun at the best of times, but throw in an event like Christmas and it can send you over the edge mentally. Even something that may normally be manageable can turn into negative thoughts which can take you on that downward spiral of negativity.
Did you realise there is a massive connection between food and mental health?
I have spent years studying this. I even wrote a book about it. My first book Permanent Weight Loss explains the direct correlation between what goes on in our minds and our eating habits. I learnt about this unconsciously as a young girl. You see, my Mum had issues with her mental and emotional wellbeing which resulted in her having little control over her weight, which resulted in dangerous and almost fatal weight loss surgery. I was just 10 years old at the time. If I really wanted to simplify this: My mum was really unkind to herself, she lacked self-love and self acceptance and self sabotaged with food and alcohol. (Sorry Mum for sharing that but you are my inspiration<3 )
Anyway, back to the point...
Here are a few tips if you’re feeling anxious about food or eating habits in the run up to/and during Christmas.
First and foremost...
1. DO NOT feel bad if you have a different way of eating to those that you are spending your Christmas with.
Do not apologise for having your own opinions, or ways of being that suit you and your life, as long as you’re kind with your opinions, all is well.
2. Keep Hydrated
I know this sounds cliché, but it’s so important to keep yourself hydrated at this time of year. With so much party food being served (which is generally high in salt) it's time to drink some h20!
Dehydration has a direct impact on cognitive function, including memory, focus and critical thinking which impacts the way that we feel and feeds back into our thinking.
Also, the brain signals that tell us we are hungry are the same as the ones telling us that we are thirsty. So, if you want to avoid over eating and that horrible feeling of feeling over-stuffed (which normally gives us an excuse to beat ourselves up) then drink water!
3. Be prepared
If you get worried about being hungry, eating differently, missing meals and then over eating when you get to the main event, then make sure you plan what and when you eat and take control over what you’re putting into your body. Just carrying a healthy snack around and eating it in the car whilst in-between visits will help. Feeling anxious can actually play havoc with your appetite too so eat when you’re hungry
If you’re someone that gets 'hangry' too, then carrying snacks is a must to help balance your blood sugar and keep you on an even keel so that you’re not a grump at Christmas!
4. Check out your belief system
Most of us have beliefs around food and the need to not waste it, which either leads us into overeating or feeling guilty because there is wasted food. Depending on when and what our families beliefs are, it is possible that we were brought up with sayings like “make sure you finish your dinner, there are starving kids in the world ” or, “when I was a kid we had nothing, be grateful for what you have and finish the lot or you’ll have it for your breakfast”.
Start to become aware what it is that you believe about food and yourself. Food is there to fuel your body, not something to punish yourself with.
Taking a look into your beliefs and transforming them into something more positive will literally change the way that you feel and think!
Fifth and finally...
5. Enjoy the present moment
I know that I keep repeating myself, but just in case you haven’t read my other blogs then: enjoy the present moment. Practice your conscious breathing, if you are lucky enough to have friends, family and roof over you head then practice being grateful. Work on putting things into perspective as much as you can and think “when I am at the end of my life, taking my last few breaths will all of this worry be important?" Learn to accept and love yourself for where you are right now in your journey, if you feel anxious around food, drinks or anything else know that ‘this too shall pass’ you have got this!
I send this with only love and only light.