Christmas is coming and suddenly, everywhere I go, there are baked goods.
Even if I am not hungry at all, a plate of cookies appears, and eating one seems like a great idea.
While holiday baking is intended for people to share in celebration, many of us use these foods negatively to cope with our emotions.
Stressed out at work? Eat some shortbread!
Family not getting along? Have some brownies!
I started an unhealthy relationship with Nanaimo bars when I was working as a cook for a private long-term care home.
I worked hard all day cooking food that people did not appreciate, and then had to wash their dishes.
Not having time to eat a real meal, and having no desire for food anyway, I got into the habit of eating a frozen Nanaimo bar every day on my break. It gave me that quick sugar rush and afternoon pick-me-up that I needed to get through the mountain of dishes that awaited me.
At the time I was studying to be a dietitian, and knew this was not a “healthy choice,” but for those five minutes while eating this treat, my life suddenly seemed better. Had I not worked hard all day?
I deserved it!
This kind of thinking can be especially problematic during the holiday season, as our emotions are triggered, along with cold weather and plenty of access to unhealthy foods.
Sometimes hibernating with a plate of shortbread can seem like an ideal solution to our anxieties. However, soon the sugar buzz wears off, and shame and guilt move in.
While there is nothing wrong with enjoying baked goods during the holidays, if you are prone to emotional eating, keep these tips in mind:
• Don’t keep baked goods in your house. Relying on willpower is not an effective way to prevent emotional eating.
• If you want to bake for grandkids, or guests that may drop by, bake items that won’t tempt you and send any leftovers home.
• Make a rule that you will only eat holiday baking when friends or family are gathered. You are unlikely to eat a whole tray of cookies if other people are watching.
• Consider pairing an unhealthy behavior with a healthy one: if you did 10 ten cookies, don’t get mad at yourself, take your dog for a nice long walk!
– Serena Caner is a registered dietician who works at Shuswap Lake General Hospital.