Feelings Aren’t for Stuffing!

You’re half way through the family dinner when the conversation turns to you… Will someone ask about your job? Your love life? Or worse — your weight?! Rather than wait to find out, you reach for a second helping of mashed potatoes, or pie, or ice cream or anything to protect you from what is sure to follow. Gulp — feelings!

Trouble is, even if you make it through that conversation unscathed (save for that nagging nausea), pretty soon you’ll be quizzed by your perfect cousin about your life choices. And based on the pattern you’ve set up, it’ll be easier to take another piece of pumpkin pie than to address the questions at hand. The trouble is, you’re not doing yourself any favors – physical, mental or emotional. We all have issues with our families and tempting as it may seem, we don’t have to turn them into issues with our bodies!

Here are 3 ways to make it through Thanksgiving (and the holidays in general) without turning to food for comfort.

Moderation is not deprivation
Just because you are not going to eat as an emotional band-aid doesn’t mean you don’t get a taste of blueberry pie! You are allowed to enjoy every part of holiday eating in a way that works for you. Many emotional eaters find it effective to view the whole meal as a treat. Take it slow and have a little taste of all the deliciousness that’s on offer… but don’t overdo any one of them. Can everything you’re eating fit on one standard plate? Leave room for desert by taking smaller portions of the main meal. Naturally you don’t want to eat this big everyday, but you can certainly enjoy a feast every now and then – if you do it wisely.

Set time limits
If you know that being around your family triggers big emotional upset, give yourself a start and end time. Tell yourself you only have to spend two (or three or however many) hours at your holiday event. If you’re having a good time (hey, it could happen!) and you want to stay longer, you can, but you’re under no obligation. The result? You’ll be less likely to head for the hors d’oeuvres and hoard them! Asserting boundaries will only make everyone involved happier, whether they realize it or not!

Face things from afar
Whipped cream is not an effective remedy for unsavory emotions. Instead, the answer comes in centered, accepting observation. Translation: you can experience your feelings without becoming your feelings. For example, when your sister arrives with her new fiancée — your first love/high school boyfriend — instead of downing a whole bowl of chips and enough dip for a football team, observe the situation as though you are watching a play unfold. Feelings will pass through you and be replaced by new feelings. Though you might feel like you are going to die, you’re not… particularly since you know that it’s only an hour (or an afternoon), not the rest of your life.

Finally, don’t get down if you do stuff yourself – or take it as a cue to keep going. Pick yourself up off the dining room floor and give yourself a second chance to eat reasonably. In the end, if you stuff all your feelings, you’ll miss out on the good ones too!

Do you have trouble expressing your emotions in relationships romantic and otherwise? To find out how you can improve communication start by talking about it!

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