Avoiding holiday stress and emotional eating: savoring

This busy season, I’m sharing a series of habit-building challenges for staying in touch with the spirit of the holidays and avoiding overwhelm, stress, and emotional eating. Create these habits and routines now, and you’ll also be building a strong foundation for your year ahead.



Today’s habit-building challenge for avoiding holiday overwhelm and emotional eating is about savoring. Savoring is often the variable that makes the difference between a delightful, soul-warming experience and overindulgence that leaves us unsatisfied, overfull, and frustrated.

When we’re savoring, whether it is savoring music or time with people we love, or the special homemade holiday coffee cake, we are nourishing ourselves. When we aren’t tuned in to savor (because we’re stressed, or multitasking, or feeling guilty about what we’re doing), then we’re just taking in. We’ve shut off the full-sensory pleasure valve (or we’re numb to it).

When we indulge without savoring, we don’t fully taste. We don’t fully enjoy. We tend to keep going past the point of fullness. Whether it’s food or shopping or Netflix, or some other experience, we’re much more likely to end up tired, over-stimulated, worn out, and with a sugar hangover.

Avoiding holiday stress and overeating

What are the holiday (or seasonal) activities, rituals, and foods that truly mean something to you – the ones that revitalize you or give you a peaceful feeling, or that you look forward to each year? Take the time – now – to make your list of seasonal “musts.” These are not “have-tos” or “shoulds.” These are the “this is what makes it all worthwhile” experiences.

Get your schedule and put these must-do experiences on your calendar. Don’t just count on them to happen naturally. These “musts” are important. Your holiday joy and energy flows, in part, from these experiences and the feelings they generate. Scheduling them holds space for them to happen – and for you to be present and fully savor.

Take time to consider each must on your list, whether it’s an event or a treat you want to fully enjoy. Consider – now – how you can be fully present for these experiences and really, truly savor them. Here’s a hint. Sometimes we’re much better at seeing what we don’t want to do or what doesn’t work. Start there. Ask yourself, “If I was going to completely sabotage my enjoyment and savoring of Mom’s homemade fudge, what would I do?”

What will it take to savor your “musts” this season? Will it require blocking out more time so you don’t have to rush? Planning something in advance? Giving yourself permission to savor instead of feeling guilty? Delegating or saying no to some other things so you have the energy to enjoy what’s important?

Your savoring challenge

I challenge you to take the top three experiences you selected and come up with one thing you can do, ask for, or not do that would make the experience even better.



PS: Did you know that research shows that when we savor while eating, we eat less and feel more satisfied?

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