Christmas and Weight Gain?
Is it really a foregone conclusion that you will put on weight over Christmas? Many people who are struggling with weight issues feel nervous as the festive season approaches due to a mistaken belief that they will automatically put on at least some of the weight they have worked hard to lose.
It is interesting that this belief is taken for granted and is not looked at more closely. If this belief was examined what may come to light is that there is actually nothing inherent in Christmas that would lead to putting on weight but perhaps the existing psychological and emotional stresses that are exacerbated or only come to light over the holiday period. Christmas is just an example where overweight patients take themselves out of the equation, locating their centre of control outside of themselves. The implication being that Christmas will make them magically fatter, perhaps due to the greater availability of treats, nibbles and alcohol. It is an identical situation when people say;
‘If only I didn’t still live at home then I could lose weight’ or ’if only my partner cooked more healthily, or if only my partner did sports with me’.
However, in reality enjoying Christmas by indulging ourselves with lovely tasty food and putting on weight are two entirely separate things.
So what are the other factors that lead to Christmas weight gain?
One common is that over Christmas we spend more time with family, and sometimes family that we only see over Christmas. Perhaps it is no accident that we only see certain family members a couple of times a year over the Christmas holidays. Spending time with family can be very stressful for many people, bringing up vague and uncomfortable memories and feelings from the past. There could be a feeling somewhere deep inside of ‘I just want to get through today’ as opposed to enjoying the day.
There is also a pressure to be happy and light-hearted, and to forget our usual concerns because it is Christmas. Whilst it is a good idea to leave our troubles behind and enjoy our holidays, if we don’t know how to do this or feel like we are being watched and scrutinised and told ‘cheer up, its Christmas!’ this can be also very uncomfortable. We react to the pressure with endless mouthfuls of nuts and twiglets, washed done by copious amounts of alcohol.
Christmas can also bring a much greater financial pressure and perfectionist attitudes about everything having to be right on the day and feeling responsible not only for our own moods but those of others. It is therefore easy to imagine that if you already use food as a comfort and as a way of dealing with stress and pressure, you will increase your food intake and think its because its Christmas. You will start unconsciously medicating and tranquilising yourself with large volumes of chocolate, mince pies, nuts, puddings and alcoholic drinks. However, make no mistake, this happens not because it’s Christmas, but because there is anxiety and you are subconsciously falling back into your old patterns of ‘misusing’ food. You are not eating for pleasure or because something is a delicious treat, you are eating to comfort yourself and numb down pain and anxiety.
So how can hypnotherapy help?
Hypnotherapy can be an enormous help as it will effectively illuminate the clients particular fears and worries about Christmas as well as the triggers that will lead to a client overeating. It will also help by removing guilt by encouraging clients to eat whatever it is they want to eat but to make the distinction between eating something for enjoyment and sensual pleasure and eating as a coping mechanism.
A client will learn to eat what he is hungry for so if he is hungry for mince pies that is what he should eat. However he will develop a greater awareness of what is going on inside him and be able to stop eating when his body has had enough. He will learn to stop eating when he is full and satisfied and not get to the stage of that post fullness ‘bloated anaesthesia’ feeling. This is term I use to describe that heavy, slightly dull, numb feeling that over eating can bring about, where our thoughts have become slowed down and we are feeling as though the edge has been taken off our anxieties. This is a misuse of food, and it is precisely this situation that is a contributory factor in many peoples weight gain.
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