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Happy Healthy Holidays: How To Avoid Overeating

Image of Kristin Davis
Kristin Davis

The holiday season is the time of year cherished by so many, where we can all come together and reflect upon what is most important to us. This year, it is no secret that mental and physical health have been our critical points of focus as fears regarding COVID continue to circulate. That's why, here at Raintree, we want to share some important information and helpful resources to encourage you as well as your loved ones to stay happy, safe and healthy while we prepare to bring in the new year. As part two of our “Happy Healthy Holidays” #rtblogseries, we’re taking a look at how the holidays can cause overindulgence as well as the effects overeating can have on the body, especially now during both an obesity epidemic and global health pandemic.

Overindulgence During The Holidays

Particularly in America, holiday celebrations are renowned for their feasts. Thanksgiving for example, is quite literally a celebration based upon feasting. Enjoying food can be a wonderful way to connect with others and create important memories, but eating, similar to drinking, can also become a way of dealing with stress. When this happens, you risk overindulging or creating bad habits that can negatively impact your total body wellness. Due to the nature of eating and celebration, most Americans gain weight around the holidays. Typically, weight gain isn’t the biggest deal. However, when considering that about 71% of Americans are either overweight or obese, extra weight gain is something to be cautious of - especially when one is in the process of maintaining a healthier lifestyle due to preexisting health concerns.

A few big meals during the holidays is completely fine, we all deserve to relax and enjoy the fun but the issue is when the overindulgence becomes a repeated pattern. When we eat, the hydrochloric acid in our stomach helps us break down our food. When we overeat we should realize that not only are we exhausting our body, but we’re also creating excessive hydrochloric acid which causes heartburn, gas, and bloating. On top of that, our blood sugar levels spike, especially when we consume sugars and carbohydrates, leading to an influx of insulin which in turn can potentially lead to anxiety or insomnia. This cycle of binge-eating, health issues and lack of sleep is one that can easily repeat itself and prevent people from finding a healthy balance in life. 

Obesity On The Rise

For many, binge-eating serves as a coping mechanism for dealing with stress or emotional trauma and this year experts fear the initial food insecurity and social pressures brought on by the pandemic in 2020 may have triggered an increase into the already rising rate of obesity in America. As of this year the obesity statistics are as shown below:

  • 42.4% obesity rate in the U.S.
  • 19.3% of U.S. children are obese
  • Since 2008 the obesity rate has increased by 26%

Binge eating doesn’t just affect your health on the surface level, it can actually take years off your life. This is due to the fact that obesity is often accompanied with diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular stroke and even cancer. What is especially frightening is that on top of the higher mortality rate of obesity alone, experts fear that 42% of Americans who have underlying heart or digestive issues are put at a potential fatal disposition to fight COVID, if contracted

How To Stay Healthy While Having Fun

Whether you’re finding yourself at risk of obesity, being overweight or you simply just want to feel more comfortable during the holiday season, there are real beneficial ways you can monitor your intake without taking away from the enjoyment of the festivities. The biggest key to a healthier lifestyle during the holidays is to practice mindfulness. Don’t just avoid overeating, but instead focus on slowly enjoying each portion of food at a time. The more you savor every bite or drink plenty of water, the slower you will eat and the sooner your body will feel full. Also, make sure that when you eat that you’re sitting down, as standing and grazing or watching tv/phone screens can distract you from the amount you’re actually intaking. 

If you do end up overeating, remember that you’re only human and it is okay! Don’t let one slip up cause a downward spiral. Instead take a breath, walk off the excess energy if need be and make a plan for how to amend your habits in the future. Most importantly, don’t forget that you are not alone with these goals! Recruit the support of your family or friends, join a virtual health and wellness community where you can seek out advice and find ways to stay motivated throughout the holidays and beyond.

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