How to Avoid Emotional Eating During the Holidays

How to Avoid Emotional Eating During the Holidays

The holiday season can be a stressful time with all the extra responsibilities and obligations. The pressure to spend time with extended family, cook extra meals, shop for gifts and attend social events can quickly become too much to handle. In response to these expectations, we become overwhelmed and emotional.  This can lead to poor food choices and using food to self soothe.

If you use food as your go-to coping mechanism, you are practicing “emotional eating.”  The outcome of emotional eating can be weight gain due to the extra calories consumed.

Below are seven tips to help you cope and have a healthier holiday season.

  1. Use this time to catch up on sleep. Try to get seven hours per night. When we get less sleep than that, hormones are produced that increase appetite and food cravings.
  2. Take a break from your to do list and allow yourself some downtime. Detaching for a bit can help you recharge and not turn to sugary foods for a quick energy boost.
  3. Put your thoughts and feelings on paper by journaling daily. Using this as an emotional outlet can help decrease the urge to eat your feelings away.
  4. Move your body. Exercise releases feel good hormones for a mental boost. You will also burn some of the extra calories consumed during this time of year.
  5. When attending social events fill your plate with healthier choices such as lean meats, veggies, and fruit. This leaves less room for the higher calorie foods and desserts.
  6. Try to connect with people and not the food when in a group setting. Socializing will keep you preoccupied and away from the food table.
  7. Keep alcohol to a minimum and save the calories for food. Alcohol also lowers inhibitions, which can lead to increased food intake.

With the tips above, you can feel confident that emotional eating will not get the best of you. If you have additional questions, be sure to speak with your primary care provider.

I hope you have a merry Christmas and a happy new year!


Jessica Meek, MS, RD, LD

Jessica Meek, MS, RD, LD, developed a passion for nutrition during her teenage years and strongly believes in the healing power food. After completing her undergraduate and master degree program at Ohio University, she became a registered dietitian in 2006. She has been practicing professionally for over 10 years in the tristate area. She uses her knowledge of nutrition to empower individuals living with diabetes to make positive lifestyle changes and lead healthier lives. Jessica is a dietitian with the Bruce Chertow Diabetes Center.