Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Binge Eating Day

Binge (noun): a period of excessive indulgence in an activity, especially drinking alcohol or eating.

I am not really quite sure when Thanksgiving became more about the food than giving thanks but without a doubt in my mind, no other holiday is as focused on food as Thanksgiving.  Just tune into the Food Network or walk through the magazine aisle and see all the ads, programs and articles devoted to making a Thanksgiving feast. 

Talking to friends, clients and family I am struck by how many people really look forward to overeating.  It's almost like they look forward to overeating but then after without fail, they always feel like they ate too much.  They overeat and feel proud for doing it.  Because this is the one day of the year when you are allowed to sit down on the couch after the meal, unbuckle your belt, take a deep breath and sigh because you ate too much.

So I'm unofficially changing the name of Thanksgiving to Binge Eating Day.  Maybe if we acknowledge that this is really our behavior, we can take steps to change it.  

As I discussed holiday eating with my clients, one said something that really made sense.  They said, "My family and I really love Thanksgiving meals so what we do is we make turkey and stuffing a few times during the year.   That way we get to enjoy that food more than once a year.  Then when Thanksgiving roles around, we don't go overboard because we know that we are going to have turkey again soon."  What a brilliant statement and a perfect example of Intuitive Eating.  They realized that they were so looking forward to turkey and stuffing that they would overeat because they thought they could have it only once year.  By having it more frequently, they didn't have to binge on Thanksgiving.  It's exactly what we all should be doing to help us make peace with food.  It is a foundation of Intuitive Eating

During this holiday, I hope that you can use some Intuitive Eating skills to try to prevent the yearly binge.  Maybe some of these tips might help you focus on your internal cues and be more mindful at this year's Thanksgiving.

1) Ask yourself how hungry you are before you start to eat.  Try rating your hunger on a 1-10 scale and check with yourself as you eat to see how it changes as you eat.
2) Avoid mindless snacking before the meal.  
3) Be concious of how alcohol can change your eating pattern.  Often times, people tend to eat more after having a couple of drinks so be aware how that might affect you.
4) Eat with gratitude.  Reflect on how the food you are eating got to your table.  Think about how long it took to cook the meal.  Think about the workers whose job it is to grow the food you are eating.
5) If you love it savor every bite!  Don't shovel it in your mouth but instead eat slowly and really experience each mouthful of food.

I hope you all have a great holiday and give thanks for all the positive things in your life.