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This is also a time of year that can easily trigger emotional eating. For many of us, the next few weeks will be a combination of fun, hectic times and stress. Holiday rituals trump our usual routines and structure, relationships aren’t always merry, and emotional eating triggers abound. It is possible to take charge of overeating challenges over the next few weeks and enjoy the holidays at the same time.

Here is a five-step plan to avoid overeating and emotional eating


  1. Identify your potential overeating triggers and vulnerabilities. Delicious food becomes even more irresistible when you are hungry for things that are not food. Exhaustion, stress, and other hidden hungers can easily trigger you to reach for food when you aren’t hungry.
  2. Use simple structure and routines to stay on track. The holidays disrupt our routines. Vacation days, late nights, house guests, celebrations, and even sleeping in can disconnect you from healthy habits and the usual cues that help you pay attention to your needs. Plan today to check in with yourself over the next few weeks.
  3. Identify potential emotional eating and overeating challenges now. Look at your calendar and make a list of the events, social situations, and days that may be tough in one way or another. Now — when your brain is calm — is the time to do some creative brainstorming about how want to approach them.
  4. Plan for the treats you love. No one wants to be told no all the time. Decide early on which holiday treats you want to relish and savor — and then give yourself permission to do so without guilt. Make sure to eat these when you can give the experience your full attention, so you can enjoy the food with all your senses.
  5. Plan for “routine” eating that will help you win. There will be many hours during the next two weeks that are not holiday celebrations. Create some easy, no-brainer, low stress ways to approach them — now. I always try to keep lots of fruit around this time of year and breakfast and lunch tend to be simple, healthy meals that don’t require a lot of thought and that leave me feeling nourished and happy with how I’ve eaten.