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Handling Holiday Eating and Stress: A Recipe for Success

By Michelle May, M.D.
By Michelle May, M.D.

The holidays can be a stressful time, especially when you are trying to manage your diabetes and holiday eating in the face of all the busy-ness, stress, and food! By undertanding the ingredients that set you up for overeating, you can create the perfect recipe for success and healthy, happy holidays!

Recipe for OvereatingCheese Pizza

1 batch, bag, box, or large plate of food
2 tablespoons of deprivation
1 heaping teaspoon of guilt
Sprinkle of shame
Optional: fatigue, stress, resentment, loneliness, boredom


  1. Run yourself down physically by not sleeping, exercising, eating when you’re hungry, consuming nutritious foods, or checking your blood glucose. Alternatively, wear yourself out by working too hard, being all things to all people, and trying to make everything perfect.
  2. Place emotions on medium-high. Cover and simmer; do not allow steam to escape.
  3. When you crave something you love, remind yourself that it’s bad, fattening, or high in carbs.
  4. When your cravings grow stronger, tell yourself that you’re bad for wanting bad food.
  5. Wait until an influential person such as your grandmother or co-worker insists you eat that food anyway to please them. Alternatively, sneak the food when no one is watching.
  6. Sit down in front of the T.V. or choose another activity to distract yourself while you eat.
  7. Before eating, garnish the food with guilt. If it’s still enjoyable, stir in some shame to ensure that the food is completely ruined.
  8. Eat as quickly as possible to avoid tasting or enjoying the food.
  9. You’re done when you feel sick and uncomfortable.
  10. Repeat steps 1-9 until can’t stand it anymore. Try the Recipe for Instinctive Eating.

Recipe for Instinctive EatingPizza Slice

1 or 2 servings of food you love
2 tablespoons of hunger
1 heaping teaspoon each of intention and attention
Sprinkle of trust
Optional: pleasure, enjoyment, celebration, tradition


  1. Care for yourself physically by getting adequate sleep, exercise, and nutrition.
  2. Create a self-care buffer zone by regularly nurturing your body, mind, heart, and spirit.
  3. When you’re hungry, consider what you want, what you need, and what you have to eat before choosing food.
  4. Decide how you want to feel when you’re finished eating; serve yourself accordingly (or adjust the portion if someone else served you).
  5. When the food you crave isn’t particularly healthful, omit all guilt and shame and include the desired food in your meal plan. Remind yourself that all foods fit when you practice balance, variety, and moderation.
  6. Sit down to eat and minimize distractions.
  7. Savor the appearance, aromas, textures, and flavors as you eat.
  8. Eat slowly and mindfully for maximal enjoyment from every bite.
  9. Stop when you feel content and energetic.
  10. Repeat steps 1-9 for the remainder of your life.

Learn how from our book: Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat with Diabetes: A Mindful Eating Program for Thriving with Pre-diabetes or Diabetes 

Happy, Healthy Holidays!


About the author

Michelle May, M.D. is a recovered yo-yo dieter and the founder of the Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Programs and Training. She is the award-winning author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: A Mindful Eating Program to Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle , winner of seven publishing awards. She is also the author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat with Diabetes, Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat for Binge Eating, and Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating for Bariatric Surgery. Michelle shares her compelling message and constructive keynotes with audiences around the country, offers workplace wellness programs, and has trained and licensed hundreds of health professionals to facilitate Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Programs worldwide. She has been featured on Dr. Oz, the Discovery Health Channel, and Oprah Radio, and quoted in Diabetic Living, Fitness, Health, Huffington Post, Parents, Self, USA Weekend, US News & World Report, WebMD and many others. Her personal success story was published in Chicken Soup for the Dieter's Soul. Michelle cherishes her relationships with her husband, Owen and grown children, Tyler and Elyse. She regularly enjoys practicing yoga and hiking near her home in Phoenix, Arizona. She and Owen, a professional chef, share a passion for gourmet and healthful cooking, wine tasting, photography, and traveling.


  1. Pauline Gillen says:

    Excellent advise for the Holiday Season. I love Eat what you love and love what you eat!!!! Merry Christmas!

  2. Becky Henry says:

    Great blog post Michelle! I love this. Thank you for such great tips on Mindful Eating For the Holidays.
    Becky Henry
    Hope Network

  3. Read This says:

    Read This

    Handling Holiday Eating and Stress: A Recipe for Success – Diabetes and Mindful Eating

  4. […] For more on Dr. May and her creative “recipe for success”, click here. […]

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