Emotional Eating--The Real Holiday Stressor

Emotional eating goes out the window with holiday stress. And so does losing weight. But the real holiday stress is not the rushing around (not that there isn't any of that) but it's the uncertainty of all your plans working out for the season.

Sure there is the hurridiness, the pressure to get something done, and the anticipation, but aside from all that there is uncertainty. But the real stressor is the uncertainty that all your plans will work out and everyone will be happy. There's uncertainty that you'll project the right image at the holiday party--uncertainty that you'll even find the gifts you're looking for--uncertainty that you'll get the right gifts.. There's uncertainty as to how you'll pay for them or what you can afford. Then there's uncertainty as to whether you remembered everything you had on your "to do" list. Will your guests all show up or will they get along?

Unlike hurridness, frustration, anticipation, and the pressure (or anxiety) to get something done that are fleeting feelings, uncertainty is an emotion that lasts 24 hours a day seven days a week until the plans are all finished and the holiday season over.

A close running emotion is anticipation which I'm sure you can see can be closely tied into uncertainty. It's real easy to be into emotional eating.

Anyway losing weight or experiencing weight loss is but impossible unless these raw emotions are dealt with
In fact you don't have to separate these emotions, you can pretty well lump them together. But the bigger question is, "OK, how can we isolate them and leave emotional eating out of the equation?" Should we put losing weight and weight loss on the back burner for the holidays?

Uncertainty, what do you do with it? Just ask the weight loss experts and their response will be "Duh". Sure, ask them what to do with boredom and they are replete with tons of advice such as:
1. call a friend.
2. go exercise.
3. have celery or some very low calorie vegetable to chew on.
And if they actually thought about uncertainty, they'd probably give the same advice plus maybe things like:
1. Don't worry, it'll all work out.
2. Have faith in yourself.
Think about it. Doesn't this all boil down to the same thing, "do something about it?" Escape it, run away from it, convert it to something else.

It all makes perfect sense, right?

Maybe I can put a slightly different twist on uncertainty. Uncertainty is the result of:
1. Being unsure of yourself.
2. Being unsure of others and outside events.
3. Feeling out of control about circumstances.

And if we can not let it be that you're unsure of yourself and others, we will feel uncertain.

As opposed to denying it, trying to escape it, or convert it to something else (any one of which we might eventually do which leads to emotional eating) let's first acknowledge it and how we feel about it.

"I feel uncertain and I dislike it."

If you can not let it be that you don't have control of everything or are uncertain, you'll do something about it and what you've been programmed since childhood to do about uncertainty is eat. That's right, emotional eating. Lacking faith in you or not letting go of worry--no you'll grab a comfort food.

This is all because we resist uncertainty. When you allow you to feel uncertain, it disappears and you no longer have to use comfort foods to dilute it.

Ok, so let's just experience and feel uncertain. But it's not that easy. We've also been programmed since childhood to avoid uncertainty at all costs. Programs such as:
1. You shouldn't feel uncertain--everything will work out.
2. You should be in control.
Make your own list of beliefs you have about uncertainty. It's these beliefs and attitudes that you have about uncertainty that make it difficult for you to feel and experience uncertainty.

When you permit you to feel and experience uncertainty, guess what? It disappears. However if you resist it and avoid it you'll have to do something about it--emotional eating.

Let's take it to another level! Now if you can not let it be that you are uncertain and you munch, what are you eating?

Symbolically you are eating the planned event (the thing you lack control over).

Of course ultimately as you feel and experience uncertainty you might call a friend to discuss your worries, find a way to trust in your abilities, or something else but it won't be to escape uncertainty.

Now if the end result is the same, you might ask why deal with uncertainty? It's because to be successful with uncertainty, it's important to acknowledge that you are diluting the emotion by emotionally eating your planned events. You then have an opportunity to move beyond "I have an eating problem" to "I have a problem when I'm uncertain of my plans working out as planned"

You are now directed to the stressor itself and can stop blaming your over weight condition on food. Plus when you actually experience uncertainty, it's gone and so is the need to dilute it.

Richard Kuhns B.S.Ch.E., NGH certified, well known figure in the field of motivational thoughts with his best selling stress management and hypnosis cds at http://www.PanicBusters.com and http://www.DStressDoc.com. His goal is to make it possible for anyone to eliminate emotional binge eating. For more information please visit http://www.dstressdoc.com/BingeEatingEbook.htm