Thanksgiving Dinner is one of my favorite types of food. I know not everyone loves Thanksgiving as a holiday, but the food is something I think most of us enjoy. Roast turkey with mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing (or dressing, whichever you prefer) green bean casserole, dinner rolls, and of course a healthy portion of pumpkin pie smothered in whipped cream. The food feels like home.
And home has a lot of emotions attached to it.
Maybe Thanksgiving Dinner isn’t the food that does it for you. Maybe you love ice cream. Or chips. Or cookies. Or all of the above. But this time of year, it gets hard to tell the difference between an extra treat and eating your feelings. With holidays being a big trigger for stress, it’s not a big stretch to say they cause a lot of emotional overeating.
How can you identify it?
The first key to identifying emotional overeating is to be mindful of what you put in your mouth. This might seem obvious but it can be tricky. Sometimes we eat without realizing or thinking about it. Especially when food is placed out for us to snack on.
Next we have to take stock of our mental energy. When we feel hungry, we need to check our mental state to see if we are feeling stressed, tense, or some other emotion. If you get home from a long day of work and you find yourself in front of the freezer looking for ice cream, you might be trying to comfort yourself through food.
Another way to ID this is to examine our eating habits as a whole. This can be done with a food journal. Simply marking down everything you eat and when you ate it is a good way to tell if you are eating at odd times. If your eating doesn’t line up with regular meals some of that may be tied to an emotional eating problem.
The final and best way to identify an emotional eating problem is to talk to an expert. There’s a reason that doctors say not to self-diagnose everything. Our minds are not always reliable and believe it or not, recognizing an emotional eating problem can add to the problem if not handled correctly.
The best part of getting help from a professional is the lack of that judgmental attitude we’re all afraid of. Nobody wants to be looked down on by their closest friends. And you don’t have to be. Your therapist may become a good friend to you, but more importantly they are the person who will listen to you without condemning you for being where you are. They are there to help you move forward again wherever that leads.
And if that sounds like something you would like to experience, come sit by our fireplace and tell us your story. We’d love to help you develop a healthy relationship with food again!