by: Phyllis Spahn, LPC, NCC, LDN
this article appeared in the Living section of the Dalton Daily Citizen on November 24, 2013
The holidays are upon us! While we begin to plan for beautiful, fun-ﬁlled festivities with family and friends, if we are honest, many of us also begin to feel some stress related anxiety accompanying the anticipation of what’s to come!
Over the years, science has done a good job of proving the obvious: that is – what and how we feed our bodies is highly connected with how we feel both physically and mentally. This connection is often noticed even more by individuals as the fun, but often stress-ﬁlled, activities set in for the holiday season. During this time, visions of sugar plums, cakes, cookies, and candies will dance in the heads of children and adults. Without the many ethnic and family treats that make the season special, this time of year would be quite different. Traditional holiday food is an important part of many people’s heritage. However, the overeating and high sugar and fat consumption frequently associated with holiday foods are high-calorie traps for many adults and children alike.
Often, it it is like the holidays are declared a “free zone”; it is not only socially acceptable to overeat, but often people are expected to overeat because of the holidays. Even those with the best intentions can fall into a pattern of over-indulging and experiencing sugar highs and lows, leading to unwanted weight gain, feelings of sluggishness, low energy, and lowered self esteem, all of which can contribute to increased feelings of depression, anxiety and feeling “down-in-the-dumps”.
Our associations of love and food often contribute to the holiday habits. Food is a sign of love, especially at holiday time. People want to make special treats for their families and friends, to show them they are loved, bring back happy childhood memories, or carry on signiﬁcant family traditions. Consequently, homes are ﬁlled with delicious aromas of freshly made candies and cakes, and counters spill-over with dozens of cookies.
Beginning in January, many spend the next several months trying to take off the weight that was gained over the holidays. Gym memberships and the use of fad diets skyrocket. Each year the added weight can seem to become more difﬁcult to lose and for some, weight loss is put off permanently.
What can be done to help resist the annual over indulgence? Take a few simple steps to not only get your holiday season off to a healthier start, but to carry you through this and other fun-ﬁlled or stress- ﬁlled seasons in your life as well.
This article on The Food, Mood, & Holiday Connection was written by Phyllis Spahn, Licensed Professional Counselor and Registered/Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist of The Rapha House – A Counseling Ministry of ChristChruch Presbyterian of Dalton. It appeared in the November issue of the Dalton DailyCitizen.