Are You Eating Food or Feelings?Nov 29, 2012 02:11PM ● By Sylvia Haskvitz
Everybody has advice about not gaining weight over the holidays. It’s like we’re a prisoner and our cellmate is food; we’d better make friends or there will be trouble.
Advice. Face your stuff or stuff your face. Back away from the bowls. Take what you want, put it on your plate and sit down with the food. Come to a party with some appetite, but not starving. Don’t stand next to the snack bowls. Everybody has advice about not gaining weight over the holidays. It’s like we’re a prisoner and our cellmate is food; we’d better make friends or there will be trouble.
If we don’t want to gain 10 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, we must recognize that food sometimes serves as an unconscious strategy we use to meet other needs. We may overeat rather than speak our truth or when we would rather not feel angry or upset. Many of us idealize a perfect holiday gathering, and most of those celebrations fall pretty short of ideal.
Dr. Marshall Rosenberg, founder of Nonviolent Communication, suggests that each choice we make is an attempt to meet some need. Notice triggers that send you to the candy bowl for the third time in the last 10 minutes. Did aunt Charlotte just tell you she doesn’t like the boyfriend whom you are intending to marry, or is cousin Esther telling you what to do and you’re thinking, “Who died and made her queen?”
If conflict is not your preferred way of connecting and family often triggers painful past and current experiences, one coping strategy may be lunging into the garlic mashed potatoes, but another may be to journal about the experience, talk to a trusted friend or family member or take a walk with a companion to find clarity about what is being triggered.
When we are aware of what is stimulating our feelings, we have choice, and can insert a pause between what happened and how we choose to respond. The pause is where our growth occurs, so we don’t respond from our habitual reactions, but act instead from a place of choice.
Sylvia Haskvitz, MA, RD, holds a bachelor’s degree in nutrition and dietetics and a master’s degree in speech and communication studies, with a focus on interpersonal and intercultural communication. She is a certified trainer with the Center for Nonviolent Communication and the author of Eat By Choice, Not By Habit (EatByChoice.net) and contributing author to Healing Our Planet, Healing Ourselves.