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  • Nikki Gepner

Navigate Holiday Eating with Joy – Breaking the Restrict-Binge Cycle

Updated: Nov 7, 2023

Many have reached out about feeling like food controls them during the holidays. I hear you. This season can be a joyous time but also a breeding ground for anxiety around eating. This can spiral into a restrict-binge cycle, messing with both your body and mind. Even if binge eating isn't a constant in your life, the tips here can help you find ease around food and free up mental space for the stuff that really counts.

Binge Eating Triggers:

  • Emotional Load: The holidays can pack an emotional punch and for some this may lead to feeling overwhelmed and eating can show up as a distraction from the chaos.

  • FOMO and Scarcity: The "get it while it lasts" mentality with seasonal foods can push us to eat to the point of feeling sick.

  • Skipping Meals: "Saving up" for the feast can actually set you up for a binge later on. When your blood sugar gets low your body goes into survival mode which can lead to feeling out of control with food. When this happens people often experience headaches, difficulty concentrating, fatigue and irritability or hangry vibes.

  • Routine Changes: Holidays tend to toss our regular schedules out the window, leading to skipped meals or irregular eating patterns and all the issues listed above.

  • ADHD: For those with ADHD, daily distractions and hyperfocus can lead to forgetting meals and bingeing later.

  • Good vs. Bad Foods: Moralizing food can lead to guilt and shame around eating which increases your risk for a binge.

Navigating Food with Ease: Your Holiday Guide

Honor Your Hunger

If you're hungry, go ahead and eat. Avoid saving up for the big feast. This often backfires. Honoring your hunger allows you to show up to a meal, event or celebration feeling more regulated so you can be present to enjoy the food and time with others.

Person eating joyfully during the holidays

Find Food Joy

Holiday eats are often tied to cherished traditions, memories and culture. Relish this time to nourish both body and soul by appreciating the connection, enjoying the presentation, the smells, the tastes.

Drop the All-or-Nothing Mindset

All or nothing thinking around food often ties in with deliberately cutting out foods or food groups you enjoy. When you give yourself permission to eat what sounds good and feels good to your body, you may find yourself less food obsessed.

Emotional Check-in

Emotional eating can signal unmet needs, like sleep, a need to connect with a friend or loved one, increased stress, overwhelm and burnout. Sometimes we don't have time to meet these needs as they arise. When this happens taking a moment to be present and notice your breath or make a quick phone call to a family or friend that makes you feel happy can make a big difference without a huge time commitment. Evaluate if you can adjust anything in your day to day that helps you feel more balanced and regulated.

When to Seek Help for Binge Eating

If you regularly:

  • Feel out of control around food

  • Eat to physical discomfort

  • Experience guilt or shame after eating

  • Prefer to eat alone due to embarrassment

It may be time to seek professional guidance. Until then, let's aim for a more peaceful and enjoyable relationship with food.

Resources for binge eating help:

  1. Schedule a visit with Nikki for nutrition therapy

  2. Search Association for Size Diversity and Health (ASDAH) for a therapist or a dietitian nutritionist if you need a provider outside of Washington State

  3. For more intensive support or to learn more about binge eating visit Center for Discovery's website

This blog post is for educational and informational purposes only and solely as a self-help tool for your own use. I am not providing medical, psychological, or nutrition therapy advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your own medical practitioner. Always seek the advice of your own medical practitioner and/or mental health provider about your specific health situation.


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