At no other time of the year does food FOMO, the fear of missing out around food, show up more voraciously than it does around the Holiday Season. In fact, this was recently a topic of conversation with one of my health coaching clients who is working on changing her relationship with food.
Whether you’re tempted by the trays of office treats that seem to show up every day without fail, the plethora of goodies at the never-ending holiday parties on your calendar or just feel compelled to have all the egg nog all the time, because, Christmas trees, then know you’re not alone.
According to a study that used the Yale Food Addiction Scale, 5 percent of the population suffers from clinical food addiction, but there is a high number of individuals who, while they don’t meet food addiction criteria, show a strong propensity to addictive behaviors around food. In other words, food FOMO is more common than you may think.
If you find that you suffer from food FOMO during the Holiday Season or all year long, try a few of these strategies for managing it:
One // Eat Before You Go. Most of us show up to holiday parties anticipating the food. To compensate for the gluttony in which we expect to engage, we starve ourselves all day. The result is a pit in our stomach, out-of-control appetite and an inability to satisfy our hunger until we’ve totally overdone it and need to undo a button or two. The best way to counteract the tendency to overeat is to eat reasonably throughout the day and have a well-balanced meal or snack of fiber, fat and protein before you arrive to your dinner or party. With your blood sugar balanced, you’ll be better able to make rational choices and prevent overeating. If for some reason you cannot eat before you arrive, approach the buffet table the same way – fill up on fiber, fat and protein first. Fill your plate with proteins like chicken, shrimp coctail, sliders without the bun, vegetable crudite, nuts, fresh salads and good quality cheeses.
Two // Ten Deep Breaths. If you’re even slightly plagued by food anxiety, you know what happens when you’re around a free-for-all of food. Perhaps your heart rate escalates, mouth waters, stomach rumbles, breathting becomes short, palms sweat. Everyone is different, so take the time to recognize what happens for you. When you feel the onset of these symptoms, change your environment by removing yourself, temporarily, from the situation. Take a time out in the restroom or outside, if possible. If you’re at a table and can’t leave, take 10 deep breaths before diving into the food. The idea is to slow down to calm your nervous system so you can think clearly and rationally.
Three // Focus on the Company. I learned this tip in nutrition school and it has served me well ever since. Take the focus off food and decide to be present with the company, your conversations and connections. Don’t give food the power of being the central focus of your evening – or your life.
Four // Talk Yourself Down. If you start feeling compelled to have one (or more) of everything, feel panic-stricken or any other strong emotions pertaining to food, get real with yourself. Tell yourself the food isn’t going anywhere. Reassure yourself that you can have anything you want if you choose once you’ve given yourself some time to work the room. Ask yourself what’s the worst that can happen if you leave the party without having the Christmas cookies AND the fudge? In the presence of food, often our ego mind takes over and we feel out of control. Slow it down. Remind yourself YOU are in control, not the food.
Five // Choose One Thing. If it’s on display, some people need to have it. I get it. I really do. This is where you start leveling with yourself. Decide in advance where, when and what it will be for you. If you know Suzy has THE BEST spiked hot chocolate at her holiday party, then make that your thing. The tray of sad, picked over deli pastries that end up in the office kitchen after the management meeting? Yea, go ahead and skip those. You get the idea. Treat yourself to something special and spectacular, just not everything, everyday.
So talk to me! What strategy above are you committed to trying this holiday season to overcome food FOMO? Have your own strategies that I didn’t mention here, share them with me in the comments.