Diabetes, Holiday Stress & Food

Holiday-Stress-Beach-WP-lowAbout ten years ago, the holiday season was a difficult one. All the unnecessary drama and stress was overwhelming and like many years before. I found myself doing things I knew were wrong for myself and my diabetes.

So I find myself asking how was I going to handle all the drama and that desire to eat. All the high carb treats will be everywhere, calling my name.

In the past, I would take extra insulin. But I have been down that road before: feeling good while eating but sick later that evening through the following day.
To be honest, “the following days!” Leftovers abound and my inner voice saying, “Someone needs to eat it.” Over the past few years, I have played this tape countless times, and the outcome never changes. If I get stressed out and overwhelmed by family drama, I ate to cover up my feelings, and I only end up feeling more anxious with more negative feels; guilt and sadness.

Whether you give in or not, you might feel angry, sad or frustrated. Maybe you only see your family on holidays for a reason, and emotional turmoil is brewing within you. The anger about your brother, sister, parents, uncle and so on; you think you have pushed down, locked away or resolved. Appears out of nowhere and you’re transported back to childhood and may even feel powerless.

Emotional Eating
Emotions arise long before, during, and after the family functions. Primarily, when the family members, who cause so much anxiety, are going to be at that family function and will inevitably create unwanted drama for you during that event.

Some people eat when emotionally charged. Negative or positive, the kind of emotion, doesn’t necessarily matter. Some feelings make us want to partake in the festivities, while negative emotions may cause us to eat to feel better.

There is a tendency to eat regardless of hunger to avoid feelings.

The feeling of being left out of the group when everyone else is eating food you like but try to avoid as part of your diabetes management. Watching others eat treats you enjoy while family members encourage you to eat more, can create internal pressures to join in despite the potential consequences. Combine that with family members that don’t understand that you can eat a piece of cake in peace, says something or is staring at you from across the table. It can be a recipe for disaster.

If you’re the planner in the family? There is the additional stress of all the things you have to do, to plan and execute the event. Is it stressful? Of course, but add on family issues, and it can be paralyzing.

What Now?
Psychotherapy helps me deal with family stuff and the day to day of living with diabetes. Attending therapy may not help for this Holiday Season, but it may help for the following ones.

Some of my clients opt to not go to family events until they feel family members won’t trigger them to eat. Other clients may go, but bring a friend to run interference or have an exit strategy in place (Like when you tell a friend to call you 30 minutes into a blind date). If you need help, some therapists, like myself will help you construct a plan of action to avoid emotional eating and how to cope with it, if you do.

Talk about it with your friends; they may help. Just be careful some friends think of themselves when giving advice, have poor listening skills or are not able to support you adequately. Over the past ten years, I have given nonbias support to my clients and help them work through their family and other issues.

If you feel you need extra support or feel like talking to someone who will listen and empathize with what you are going through, please call (917) 272-4829, and we can set up a consult session.

If you want more information on how I can help you deal with the holidays or other issues you face; check out my website: www.diabetictalks.com.


Medical Disclaimer:
All the advice included in this blog is therapeutic in nature and should not be considered medical advice. Before making any changes to your diabetes maintenance program, please consult with your primary physician or endocrinologist.

Published by Eliot LeBow LCSW, CDE

Eliot LeBow, LCSW, CDE, is a diabetes-focused psychotherapist, diabetes-coach, presenter, and writer. His private practice, located in New York City and is also available via Skype. LeBow, who has been living with type 1 diabetes since 1977, treats the many diverse cognitive, behavioral, and emotional needs of people living with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Diabetes-Focused Psychotherapy takes a holistic approach combining traditional talk therapy with diabetes education and management help. It addresses both the physical and emotional aspects of living life with diabetes while still addressing other non-diabetes related life problems to create a unique holistic approach to helping people with diabetes thrive.

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