Every year, around the end of October, I write lots of articles about healthy holiday cookies, nutritious renditions of Thanksgiving favorites, simple ways to stay slim during the holiday season, and so forth. You know — all the things that are supposed to help a health-conscious person navigate through a season of holiday dinners, cocktail parties and school festivals.
Don’t get me wrong: eating the right foods is important. But even the most creative dieting tricks and healthy stuffing recipes won’t help if you don’t follow them. Really, you already know what and how to eat. So why do you find yourself bent over a plate of brownies, or halfway through a second heaping helping of stuffing that you swore you wouldn’t take?
Tricks don’t work because they don’t explore the underlying issues, the mental and emotional side of eating. And the holidays, more than any other time, are fraught with emotions. We’re short on time, low on cash, and either overburdened with family responsibilities or feeling the pang of loneliness. Certain key dishes may also bring back happy memories of past holidays. And all those high-carb, sugar-rich holiday treats temporarily boost levels of serotonin, the brain’s feel-good neurotransmitter–which makes us crave more.