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Life After Emotional & Binge Eating

Emotional Eating and Holiday Stress Collide

Mom is at her worst. Uncle Fred has had one too many cups of cheer.

Imagine…if every day stress sends you in the direction of food and emotional eating, then it makes perfect sense that food could become your go-to strategy for shutting down all emotional intensity during the holiday season.

When intense emotions hit, you might be especially at risk for emotional or compulsive eating, if you’re lacking other skills for self-soothing.

We’re already well into this year’s holiday season. So, if you are not already a Member and in the process of learning and practicing A Weigh Out’s 52 Empowerment Tools, here are a few things I suggest trying, in the meantime.

If you’re using thoughts of food and mindless eating to disconnect from moments of emotional stress, try using “mindfulness” as an antidote.

  • Before the event or a likely interaction with Mom or an obnoxious brother-in-law, anticipate when and where the stress is likely to hit (most of us know when we’re likely to feel our buttons being pushed). In advance, think through the high risk scenarios and decide on your alternate plan of action. So, the moment your mother starts complaining, you’ll already have your exit strategy. Look at your watch and say, “Oh sorry Mom, I told Jackie I would call her right at 1pm. I’ll be back.” There’s something very empowering about planning to handle emotional stress well!
  • Empowerment is an amazing tool! I recommend a brief visualization in the tub or shower the morning of an event. See it going well. Feel empowered to create the day you want rather than expecting to feel victim to a family member or friend’s bad behavior—or maybe even your own.
  • I also suggest people envision eating well at each event, enjoying holiday food, but in a way that leaves them feeling great, not restricted, over stuffed, or guilty. If your family cooks and bakes only high calories dishes, consider bringing a dish or two of food you’d rather fill up on…but don’t set up any feelings of deprivation because those are likely to backfire and result in more emotional eating when emotions increase.
  • Set clear intentions about how you want your holiday experiences to be. Rethink holiday obligations and traditions that typically leave you feeling stressed. Can you eliminate some or all of those this year? What could you do to make your holiday more fun…your plans less stressful, so less likely to be filled with stress eating and regret?

If you’re ready for a whole new set of emotional regulation and Empowerment Tools in 2013, consider joining us on the journey.

Happy Holidays everyone!


Ellen Shuman is a Life Coach who specializes in empowering people who are working on emotional and binge eating recovery. She is the founder of A Weigh Out & Acoria Eating Disorder Treatment, President of the Binge Eating Disorder Association (BEDA), and Co-Founder of the Academy for Eating Disorders Special Interest Group on “Health at Every Size”, ellen@aweighout.com

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