Fact: Most people start the holiday season with the intention to control binge eating, but lose control before the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade even begins.
The holidays are a crazy, fun whirlwind time of year. And one of the most thrilling parts of the season is eating all that scrumptious food. I mean, would the holidays really be the holidays without egg nog, boxes of chocolate, candy canes or your Aunt Ingrid’s mashed potatoes?
What if I told you that there’s a way you really can enjoy your favorites without going into a binge? What if I could help you understand that being in control doesn’t equal feeling deprived? How about if I told you this was really possible for you? Would you believe me?
Would you believe in yourself enough to give something new a try?
Well, hang tight because I’m putting you to the test.
Here are 3 of my most fabulous ways to keep from going on a binge at the holiday buffet table. These really work. Try them if you dare.
Pacify your shoulder monster
There is the monster on your shoulder telling you to eat your weight in chocolate. And there is the angel telling you to stick to the carrot sticks and broccoli. And neither should win.
Yes, you heard me right. If the angel wins, you’ll just feel deprived which will put you at greater risk to binge at the next meal. And if the monster wins…well, you don’t need me to tell you how that ends.
Try this exercise instead. Write down the top 3 foods the angel would eat. So this might be carrot sticks, lean turkey and lots of water. Then write down the top 2 foods your shoulder monster would choose.
Let’s say that is chocolate and cheese. When you get to the party, first pacify should shoulder angel. Eat all three of those foods. Once you’ve fed the angel, you can start to feed your naughty little shoulder monster. But only after you’ve fed the angel.
Feeding the angel first helps stabilize your blood sugar so you’ll be less likely to binge. And limiting the “bad” foods you eat has two benefits. First, it stops you from mindlessly eating everything in the room. Second, it allows you to give into temptation while still having rules. You aren’t falling completely out of control. You’re pacifying your cravings within boundaries.
Start feeding your shoulder angel from the moment you wake.
So you’re going to this party tonight and you don’t want your indulging to lead to weight gain. You eat really clean all day. So clean, in fact, that you barely eat at all. You skip breakfast, have just a light salad for lunch and skip your late afternoon snack. Good idea, right?
When you don’t properly feed your shoulder angel during the day, something very unintended happens. You actually inadvertently start empowering your shoulder monster. That darn monster grows stronger and louder. And he starts obsessing about everything he’ll eat.
When you get to the party, he won’t listen to a word your shoulder angel says. Your angel will say, “I’m gonna just eat a few carrots.” and the monster will respond, “You silly angel! I’ve earned my feast. Look how little I’ve eaten all day. I deserve this.”
And your angel, being starved, won’t have her normal strength or power to fight back. She’ll want to, but she’ll end up fainting into the arms of the monster. And then your monster will run into the corner with a tray of cocktail sausages.
The moral of the story? Eat breakfast! Eat lunch! I know you want to save your calories for later but skipping meals actually helps you gain weight. Even if you still overeat at the party, science shows that you’ll do less damage to your waistline if you start eating earlier in the day.
Never scold the monster
Your shoulder monster has the maturity of a 13 year old. He likes to pretend like he’s large and in charge. But when you yell at him, he internally goes into a shame spiral. Poor little monster.
But watch out for the next step. Because Mr. Monster doesn’t like listening to authority. He may feel bad, but he really doesn’t like being told what to do. And when he’s upset, he makes his voice even louder.
So let’s say you yell at him for eating an entire fruit cake. He’ll just yell back, “Don’t tell me not to eat fruit cake. I’ll eat as much as I want. I’m in charge of myself and I can do whatever I want to!”
Hmmm, that didn’t go very well.
Try this instead. In a soft, soothing voice, tell him that everything is OK and that you forgive him. Then tell him to take a nap. He’ll need to sleep off the sugar rush anyway.
Then talk to your shoulder angel because she’s who you now need to come back in charge. Foods that are good to eat after a binge are lean protein, healthy fats, vegetables and water. These foods actually help subdue cravings so when your monster wakens, his voice won’t be nearly as loud. T
his is your fall-back binge recovery formula. Upon command, your angel should start feeding you these foods directly after a binge. And again, don’t starve yourself. This will just empower the monster.
You can enjoy the holiday season without losing control or gaining binge weight.
The most important thing is have a strategy to handle your cravings, and pick yourself up when you fall.
I never deny myself during the holidays. But my game plan always keeps me in line. That way I can eat my favorites without gaining weight. And that is one of the best gifts you can give yourself this season.
Marquita Herald says
Love this Erica! Not a chocolate fan, but cheese is definitely my monster of choice. I really like your approach and will definitely give it a try. In fact, starting today because I’ll be meeting some of my new neighbors at a community get together pot-luck, now there’s a field day in the making for monsters. 🙂
Cheese is definitely one of mine too. So addictive.
Hope the pot-luck went well! Those are super full of temptation.
Doreen Pendgracs says
Hi Erica. In defence of dark chocolate, if you eat a square of pure dark chocolate, it will actually satisfy the chocolate craving AND help suppress your appetite, so it’s a win-win. We who love chocolate know that you can never get rid of a chocolate craving. But to give it just a small amount of pure dark chocolate will give your body some of its health benefits and keep the craving in line.
Glad that eating dark chocolate works for you. It is always good to discover what will work for your individual cravings. Dark chocolate is definitely my favorite kind of chocolate.
RoseMary Griffith says
I like the whole idea of having conversations with my angel and monster! I think that is a great way to indulge and control them and plan on giving it a whirl at my upcoming parties. I may even name them.
Yes, definitely name them! How fun!
The slimmest women I know eat breakfast, lunch and dinner at appropriate times. They do not allow themselves to feel true hunger.
I agree that skipping meals to indulge later should not be recommended as your body will suffer.
Thanks for the great tip on eating “good” foods first then moving on to your favourite foods. It makes sense!
William Rusho says
I am giving you a compliment, which is better than other posts I have seen about eating at the holidays. THANK YOU FOR PUTTING IT OUT NOW.
You would be amazed about how many articles, blog posts, I have seen about dieting around the holidays, that come out after the holiday!!!
Thank you for sharing it with us, NOW.
Cheryl Therrien says
Great ideas here. If you feed your Angel first, you also leave less room for the lovely treats your monster wants.
Erica, my monster isn’t named weight but cholesterol and I must admit that at Christmas I welcome the monster in. I make up various croquettes which of course are deep fried and I am addicted to them. This year I will take your suggestion and first eat the healthy stuff – I also love fruit so that won’t be a hardship before going to the croquettes. Lovely helpful post as always.
Erica like the twist of conversations with our angles and monsters! Holidays and festivals bring in sweets and stuff which are hard to resist. Here in India we are just finished with the Festive season in which I must admit, I have gained little bit. Your post will help me work it out. Thanks for sharing!
This post reminded me of that “5 Ways to Overcome Cravings and Overeating” video you made a few months ago because it also needs a video! I’m imagining it now: You’re standing next to a holiday buffet table when – Ding! – your shoulder angel appears, telling you to keep to the vegetable tray, and then – Ding! – your shoulder monster appears, telling you to go for a massive slice of deep-dish apple pie. A voiceover narrator chimes in: “Will it be salvation or sin for our heroine? Tune in to find out!” Perhaps you yourself were thinking along these lines… 🙂
RoseMary Griffith says
Hilarious blog, Erica. I will think of angels and little devils on my shoulders as I chomp away this season!