How to survive holiday (over) eating


Family Counseling Center eating disorder specialist Kim Kanarick says we often overeat for reasons we don’t realize.From Thanksgiving to New Year’s, delicious food is in the spotlight at every social event; it can seem all-encompassing and overwhelming. So, is there anything you can do to not gain too much weight during the holiday season?

Kimberly Kanarick, director of Community-based Programs of the Family Counseling Center of Brevard, Inc., and a counselor who specializes in eating disorders, seems to think so, especially if the food being consumed is for a positive reason, such as holiday parties and celebrating with friends and family.

“Those types of eaters usually start watching their weight in early January and will be back at a comfortable and healthy weight by the end of February,” Kanarick said.

There are also negative reasons for eating, such as feeling sad, angry, anxious or overwhelmed, where people may eat as a coping mechanism to soothe and calm themselves down

“But emotional eating does not resolve emotional issues, it simply masks the symptoms,” Kanarick said.

“Emotional eating does not give people a good payoff because you eat too much, then not feel good about yourself because you’ve gained weight and have feelings of a total loss of control. It compounds the stressors that are present before and after the eating is done. It’s a vicious cycle,” Kanarick said.

To combat overeating:

  • Keep a food journal. Be mindful of how much you’re eating and why.
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet. Be open to trying a different variety of foods.
  • Before you give in to a craving driven by emotions, wait five minutes. Try to identify triggers by asking yourself what’s going on emotionally and why you think overeating will help.
  • Engage in social activities, such as a church or reading club. Connect with others.
  • Find a replacement activity, such as listening to music, gardening, dancing or walking.
  • Take time to relax instead of rushing from one activity to the next.
  • Partake in meals with others. People who eat together tend to talk and socialize more than eat.

If all else fails, seek counseling if you think you are an emotional eater and you need help. You can seek counseling to begin resolving some of the issues that underlie the overeating.

“You should not base your value and identity on how you look or how much you weigh,” Kanarick said. “You have to feel competent, confident and comfortable about yourself intrinsically. The only alternative to emotional eating is through emotional fulfillment.”

The Family Counseling Center is at 505 Brevard Ave. in Cocoa. For more information, call 321-632-5792.