Damage Control after Holiday Binging


It’s natural to overindulge during the holiday season, with celebratory meals and tasty treats around every corner. Sometimes that overindulgence crosses the line to binging, and that’s when you need to take damage control measures.

Holiday binging doesn’t have to spell an end to your weight loss program or healthy habits. Here are the two main causes and ways to get back on track to repair the damage:

Getting Off Your Diet

All diets have structure, whether it’s somewhat loose or a rigid system of calorie counting or restricting yourself to certain items. Either way, it’s hard to stick to diets during the holidays for a variety of reasons. If your diet requires things like menu planning and shopping for certain items, your busy holiday schedule might get in the way. You’re likely to face temptation at parties and holiday dinners. If you work outside the home, your workplace might become a minefield of cookies, candy and other holiday goodies.

Once you start to get off track, it’s easy to throw in the towel with so much temptation all around you and the scale moving back up again. Instead, you just need to regroup and return to your diet. It takes a little time to undo the damage, but the longer you let your binge go on, the more difficult that becomes.

Rather than coming down hard on yourself, use the holiday binge as an opportunity for preemptive planning. You’ll always face challenges to healthy eating, so break down what went wrong and pinpoint ways to prevent that in the future.

If your current diet isn’t working as well as you’d like, look at other healthy options. For example, the Mayo Clinic offers its own diet program. Its first phase jump starts your weight loss, and the second phase teaches to you continue and maintain your progress. The jump start helps you undo the damage from your binge, motivating you to continue.

Eating Your Emotions

Not all holiday binges happen due to temptation. Emotional eating is common year ’round. The Mayo Clinic explains that common triggers include fatigue, work stress, relationship issues, financial pressure, and health problems. Many of these issues are even more prevalent during the holiday season. For example, going all out to buy gifts adds to financial strain, and holiday celebrations wear you out when they’re added on top of an already packed schedule. If you have family conflicts, they’re often exacerbated by holiday get-together. Add that to the easily accessibility of food and you have a recipe for disaster.

Fortunately, this type of binge can help you pinpoint issues that need your attention. The food is a Band aid, and if you look beneath it, you’ll find the wounds that need to be healed. The Mayo Clinic recommends keeping a food diary that records what you eat, when you eat it, and the circumstances surrounding it. That’s a good idea at any time of the year, but it’s especially revealing during the holidays when you might not even realize how many added stressors you’re facing.

Once you know where the stress is coming from, step back and make a plan to deal with it. For example, if you’re taking on too much, ask for help. That might not feel comfortable at first, but it’s a skill you can learn. If you learn to draw boundaries and say “no” during the holidays, you can use that skill to prevent other emotional binges throughout the year.

If you can’t control emotional eating on your own, the Mayo Clinic says you may need professional help. Talk to your doctor or a counselor who specializes in binge eating disorders. According to the Mayo Clinic, a diet can actually be dangerous when you have an eating disorder unless it’s closely supervised.