27/12/2012 11:56 GMT | Updated 27/01/2013 05:12 GMT

How to Avoid Bingeing During the Festive Season

Holidays and festive gatherings have always been an important time in my life. I enjoy this time of the year as not only for Christmas, but also the Hindu New Year. The crisp, dark evenings are a constant reminder of the fun and festivities to come. Yet not so long ago, these dark evenings covered up a darker secret of mine, a secret that would sometimes invoke panic as these festivities drew closer, a secret that often robbed me from experiencing life to the fullest. A secret known by the name of binge eating disorder.

Today, having recovered from binge eating disorder, I recognize each person experiences holidays and festive gatherings differently. It is a time where different people experience different emotions. Some have the comforted feeling of family, re-kindling the pleasant, dated feeling of familiarity. Whereas others may be faced with the cold reality of loneliness, or perhaps having to deal with difficult relationships.

Whatever the situation, we will all have one thing in common: FOOD - and possibly lots of it too! For those who have adhered to the rules of dieting, this time may bring with it a sense of panic. And for those who frequently indulge in bingeing, it brings a deliciously tempting opportunity along with a not-so-tasty aftermath.

I guess the important thing for you to remember is that the pain or pleasure will still be present regardless of the amount of food that you consume, and although working yourself through the desserts or savories won't relieve the feeling forever, it may well leave with you the feeling of guilt - a painful reminder of a few stolen moments of instant gratification.

So, here are a few mindful eating tips that may help you during these festivities:

1. Choose a few items and savor the food.

I have had clients who have found holiday eating particularly difficult. Not only can the environment be stressful, but the choice and abundance of food can also set off a level of anxiety. A practical method to help with this situation is to choose no more than two or three items of food, sit down, focus on the experience of eating and savor the food. Remember, you can always take more food later on if you wish, but this one step will help to bring some level of structure to the chaos that some of you may be experiencing.

2. Find other ways to nourish yourself.

Rather than turning to the food, it's important to schedule some time to nourish yourself in other ways. What other activities could you be doing that will bring you some alternative nourishment? Perhaps take a walk with some friends or family members once you have eaten, or maybe even play some board games. Not only is this a good way to socialize and enjoy each other's company, but it will help take your mind off the food.

3. Don't forget to take out some 'you time'.

Remember to take some time out for yourself during the holiday season. If you are staying somewhere overnight it may be an idea to do a short audio guided meditation or relaxation exercise before you go to sleep. (You can purchase these guided meditations online or from any good bookstores). Any activity which will give you a break or some relaxation is a good idea and will also bring some calm to the eating situation.

For more information on how break free from binge eating and establish a healthy relationship with food, visit