The holidays are here!

The upcoming holidays are filled with a ton of fun, food and for most people -stress.

You’ve worked so hard this year to be a mindful eater, the holidays don’t have to stand in the way. By keeping mindful eating in the back of your mind and understanding how to manage your stress, you will feel a sense of control and peace.

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Here are my top 5 ways to bust stress eating this holiday season

Remember, the holidays are a time of joy and celebration, so you must have a little fun!

1. Out of sight, out of mind

Prepare for the holiday stress by setting up your environment to keep stress eating at a minimum. Ever heard of the expression “out of sight out of mind”?

Keep the holiday cookies and sweets packed away in your pantry and not out on the counter. Studies show that the less often you see a tempting item of food the less likely you are to eat it.

There are many creative ways to clean up your kitchen that will reduce the likelihood that you will make poor choices.

Instead of resorting to waste, use the extra ingredients you have sitting around to make a thoughtful holiday gift basket for someone who would appreciate it. Or you can use them to make a holiday dessert for your co-workers.

Remember to honor your cravings but set yourself up for better decision making.

2. Portion your week

A large part of the stress you experience is feeling like you never have enough time. Let’s face it, there aren’t enough hours in the day and there never will be.

However, you can make the day a little easier by having your lunch and dinner fully or partially prepared ahead of time.

If you know you only have time to make dinner twice this week, then aim to make multiple meals and store them in containers to keep in the fridge for the following day.

Take 15 minutes or so of your time to chop up veggies like peppers, onions and garlic to have on hand when you need to make a quick meal.

3. Consider the alcohol protocol

Stress eating_2Although the holidays may seem like an opportunity to over-indulge in more than just food, alcohol intake is something to be mindful of as well.

A few drinks can be your way of unwinding, but keep in mind the effect that alcohol has on the brain.

Alcohol is a depressant and it reduces serotonin

The hormone responsible for your mood, appetite and sleep. A decrease in serotonin will cause you to be exceptionally down and more stressed the following day than you would have otherwise.

Limit your consumption to one drink per day for women or two drinks a day for men to avoid any unwanted side effects.

4. Know when to say no

Sometimes the holidays can be a balancing act. Taking on too many responsibilities can cause massive stress.

It’s important to understand your limits.

If you are throwing a holiday party, ask a close friend to help pick up some of the items on your list. Ask your kids to help set up the house.

Did you offer to pick up all the gifts for the holiday office party and now you regret it?

Head to the internet for help. There are many gift websites to help you pick an affordable and thoughtful present for your loved ones and co-workers. Don’t run yourself down going from store to store to find the perfect gift.

If you know that there is just too much on your plate, both physically and metaphorically, know when to say no for your own sake.

5. Surround yourself with positive people

Most of the time you probably limit your exposure to people who drain you.

The holidays make it tough to avoid family members who may drive you over the edge.

Take a few days before a family gathering to mentally prepare yourself. Think of strategies to handle situations and come up with solutions to de-stress.

This can be finding a comforting place to take a break, whether it be your car or an empty room. Speak to your spouse beforehand about providing support in these times of high stress.

Also, remind yourself to stay positive. Smiling reduces cortisol levels, a stress-related hormone. Going into a situation in a positive mood can help lighten the environment altogether.

For more strategies and support to beat holiday stress eating, click here.

Connect with Expert Bonnie Giller.

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