You know the anxiety you feel before you travel to the Christmas Eve party, wondering if you’ll be able to contain yourself, the guilt you feel when you eat more ‘junk’ than you planned on, and the shame you feel after saying “Screw it!” and eating everything in sight? Me too. So, if we know this, why do we choose to continue the cycle?

For many of us, certain foods take us back to childhood when life was much easier and more fun. Your brain starts to trigger the memories and responses that came when you ate them. These memories can create a mental and physical craving and an anticipation of the joy you felt when you were finally able to eat all that deliciousness.

Another reason is stress of the holidays. Salt, fat & carbs all are stress reducers. They help keep cortisol and adrenaline at bay, and help us feel relaxed. This is why they are called “comfort foods.”. 
But the guilt doesn’t make us feel very good emotionally, and did you know it can also be bad for your health? Feelings of guilt or shame can cause physical symptoms ranging from a simple knot in your stomach to fatigue and depression. It can also significantly stress your immune system, which can produce various inflammatory responses in the body.

When I get to a party, I look over the food table and decide what looks WTC (worth the calories) and then eat it joyfully. By giving yourself permission to eat “whatever the heck you want” when at a party, you’ll find you’ll be much happier, you’ll feel less stressed, you’ll enjoy the holidays more, and in the end, you’ll probably find that you won’t overeat as much as you feared in the first place. 
Every year at a certain party I know I’m going to have a ham sandwich on a white roll with as much mayonnaise at I want and a couple of homemade caramels. After that I’m happy and satiated.

If you have been eating nutritionally sound foods, you may find that when you do eat all those goodies they just don’t taste as good as they once did. This can be a bit of a letdown, but it is also a win for yourself. You realize that food doesn’t hold control over you like it once did and you can look forward to enjoying the PEOPLE at the party instead of the food.

And if you do overdue the junk? No one is perfect AND THAT’S OKAY. Understand what you did, why you did it, and make a CHOICE to get back on track the next day.