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The Alaska Club

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Avoid Stress Eating Over the Holidays

Posted by Elize Rumsley – RD, LD, CDE, MS, PhD. | Dec 4, 2022 4:13:53 PM

The joys of the holiday season are usually paired with the stress of trying to do last-minute shopping, preparing for gatherings or visitors, travel or the rush to send out holiday greeting cards. Unfortunately, this stress contributes to making poor dietary choices. With so many high calorie holiday treats offered at social events during the holiday season, the temptation to partake is irresistible. For many people, weight shed during the year mysteriously returns come January. Each year the cycle repeats; but, it is possible to break the cycle. Why not enjoy these annual festivities without feeling guilty on January 2nd? Here are some tips to consider:

1) Rest well. Most of us are sleep deprived during this season. When your body is not rested, your body produces more hormones that stimulate appetite, especially for sugar, salt and fat. On the other hand, when the body is rested, an appetite suppressant hormone is produced. So, try to go to bed early and get a good night’s sleep.


2) Be physically active. Go to group activities with a family member or a friend so you are held accountable. Exercise helps decrease stress, clears your mind, gives a sense of well-being and it is the best way to burn calories. The more intense the exercise, the less hungry you will feel.


3) Have a support system. Have a list of friends or professionals who can listen to you and help you during stressful times. Try to write down your emotions and correlate it with when/what /how much you eat or drink. Share your thoughts with your friends and try to find activities other than focusing entirely on food as recreation.


4) Plan what you are going to eat. Try to make a shopping list of healthy foods, collect recipes for simple and healthy meals, and stock up on foods that will not make you feel guilty later. If you are going to a party, pay attention to what is served. Pick one or two appetizers, one main dish and a dessert. Fill your plate with veggies. Veggies add more nutrients, and they have fewer calories. They will help you to feel full without stimulating weight gain. Eat slowly and try to avoid seconds.


5) Mind what you drink. It is very common for people to confuse the feeling of thirst with hunger, so drinking a glass of water before your meal is highly recommended. Try non-caloric drinks such as diet drinks, tea or carbonated waters. Pay special attention to how much alcohol you consume. Beer, wine and cocktails are high in calories, decrease inhibition, leaving you vulnerable to uncontrolled snack grazing.

Make this holiday season one after which you enjoy the rewards of exercising self-control, including maintaining good physical and mental health. This can only increase your confidence to start the new year off right. Enjoy and connect with people around you!

Written by Elize Rumsley – RD, LD, CDE, MS, PhD.

Elize is registered and state licensed, has a BS in Human Nutrition and a MA and PhD in Nutrition Science.

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