There are two kinds of being overwhelmed and two kinds of sadness during the holidays. One kind is appropriate and realistic, the other makes you eat too much or binge.
It's easy to be overwhelmed during the holiday season. There is so much to do and so many people to see and so many relationships to monitor. If you can stay in the reality of the 2010 Christmas season, you can be overwhelmed and still have a lot of fun. You might need to put out more energy and devote more time to make it all work out, but you won't feel powerless, which means you won't have to eat too much.
The same thing is true about sadness. Realistic sadness is about the people who are missing this year, as well as about the passage of time and the realization of another year passing by. That kind of sadness does not lead to overeating.
But if you begin to slip back into strongly felt memories of the past, which is what always happens this time of the year, you may lose your realistic perspective, and end up feeling so powerless that you are compelled to eat too much, and then you beat yourself up, and certainly that is not fun.
The memories that are stored in your brain and invited in during the holidays are not so much memories of loss or of being overwhelmed, but memories of not being understood or not being treated well or not having had the childhood that you were supposed to have. Those thoughts make you feel powerless and helpless because what is done is done. It's these kind of old memories that turn into the uncontrollable hunger and cravings that end in a binge.
In order to make use of this insight (which is to distinguish between current thoughts and old distorted memories) you have to practice the pause technique which I talk about all the time. You have to pause in order to give yourself enough time to think clearly, and sort out the memories and feelings that are aroused by the holiday from the reality of your life, and your current options. You can feel a little overwhelmed and a little sad and observe that you are NOT also powerless. This is your best protection against an unwanted binge.
One more tip. Your sudden burst of hunger can be turned into the best opportunity to sort out what is going on in your mind. When the burst of hunger occurs, it means your memory is active and strong, so take a look at your memory instead of eating. It will be much more satisfying.
Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." (NIV)
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