How to cope at Christmas if you are an ‘emotional’ eater


Are you someone who turns to food to deal with emotions? 

Christmas can be a time where emotions are heightened. I’m referring to family visitors that stay for days (!), the pressure of finding the best gifts for everyone and the feeling that everything has to be perfect!

If you eat food for emotional reasons, Christmas can escalate these patterns and I know from personal experience, that doesn’t feel great. If you’re like I was, you might be reprimanding yourself, asking “Why do I do it?” and perhaps vowing that from January, “things will be different, I’m going to start a new plan/diet/health regime…”

I have been through this cycle for many years, the one where you think beating yourself up helps you find the willpower to stop (over)eating the things that (you think) are making you fat. 

Can I tell you what I’ve learned?

Photo by  on  Unsplash

This just doesn’t work. Positive change- for example, becoming ‘more healthy’ can’t come from a negative, self-critical place.

The change comes from a place of positivity- so, instead of berating yourself, think about eating well because you want to look after your body. Think about moving your body because you love to move it- not because you are trying to burn calories and hate it into getting smaller. 

This is all about self-compassion.

Think about it, would you speak to a child the way you do to yourself in your darkest moments? I doubt it. 

There is a lot of psychological theory behind this idea- it’s a mindset shift- that we work a lot on in my workshops and coaching practice. It’s about thinking about what we will GAIN by looking after ourselves rather than what we lose or how BAAAAD we will feel if we don’t. 

This brings to mind my NLP training (Neuro-Linguistic Programming, in case you are wondering) whereby to get behavioural change, we need to do things differently, and create new neural pathways. We need to focus on what we DO want not on what we DON’T want. If you think “I need to stop eating chocolate” your brain hears “eat chocolate” because it doesn’t process the negative…..whereas if you think “I want to eat vegetables today” you’ll be more likely to eat vegetables! Make sense? 

So, with this in mind, here are some self-talk tips to start changing your unhelpful thinking patterns. 

  1. Change “I feel fat” thoughts to “I’m looking after myself in the best way I can in this present moment”

  2. Swap “I can’t believe I ate the whole packet(!)” to “I was just trying to soothe myself. It’s ok. I’m ok.”

  3. Replace “I’m not good enough” with “I love and accept myself as I am”

So, in terms of a new regime for January, why not give this way of thinking a try.

Once you get into the habit, this really helps xx  

My next ‘Food Freedom’ workshops start on 15th January at 7pm in Bristol and my ONline group coaching programme starts 14th january