Health

6 Ways to Avoid Emotional Eating During the Holidays

It may be the “most wonderful time of the year,” but that doesn’t mean it isn’t stressful. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love the holidays, but even the fun things, like picking out and wrapping gifts, can add more stress to my already hectic schedule. While I wish I could make all my stress melt away this holiday season and all year round, the truth is that some degree of stress is inevitable; it’s what you do with and about that stress that is in your control.

For a lot of people, myself included, stress triggers emotional eating. If I’m honest, I’ve struggled with emotional eating for most of my life and it’s something I continue to work through regularly. It’s incredibly common for people to turn to food to cope with their emotions. While on the surface this may sound strange, there is an actual scientific reason why. In addition to meeting our nutritional needs, food can often be used to meet our emotional ones as well.

When we eat, it causes the release of endorphins, feel-good hormones that are naturally released by the body during times of stress and physical pain, according to the Cleveland Clinic. The role of endorphins is to decrease pain and make you feel better — in other words, to comfort you. While you may have just learned this fact, your body already “knew” it. That’s the reason that so many of us turn to food when we’re feeling sad, angry, or even bored: It makes you feel better on a chemical level!

Of course, endorphins are also released in response to activities other than eating, including exercising and getting a massage. The problem with getting these chemicals from food is it can lead you to eat to self-soothe even when you’re not hungry or overeat because you are using food as a coping mechanism for emotions and not as a way to nourish your body.

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