Is It Time For You to H.A.L.T.?

Frustrated woman waiting for a phone call in Christmas kitchenDuring the holidays, there’s a lot of emphasis on love and joy, family togetherness and endless festivities.

But what if the holidays find you alone?

What if you’re dealing with a recent break-up, or illness, or worse still – a death in the family?

Perhaps you can relate?

While there’s no question these things are difficult any time of the year, the pain and heartache increases ten-fold during the month of December.

When you’re up against life’s challenges, do you still find time to take proper care of yourself?

I experienced this first-hand in the past two weeks, when my mother spent the weekend before Christmas in the hospital. Even though her caregiver stayed with her, I still made numerous trips back and forth from home.

I didn’t feel like cooking. (There was little time to shop).

The holiday cookies I had planned to bake were put on hold. I found myself eating on the run – grabbing a quick snack from the fridge (or cupboard) to tide me over. It being the holidays, there were plenty of sweets on hand so my choices weren’t always the best (even though they met my gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free criteria).

While sugary anything is very easy to come by this time of year, it’s certainly NOT what you or I, or anyone needs during times of stress.

Yet, there it was – comfort food that fit a need.

Needless to say I wasn’t sleeping well either, even though sleep is probably the most important thing you can do for yourself in times of crisis.

What I’ve just described is a typical scenario – one that can hit anytime, but especially when you’re feeling unduly stressed.

So how do you deal with it?

This is where some mental gymnastics come into play – in the form of a self-coaching technique known as H.A.L.T.

I came across this just a few days ago, and was struck by how incredibly simple these suggestions are, yet also effective. For our purposes here today, I’m borrowing this directly from Dr. Daniel Amen’s excellent article (which you can find here).


Before You Reach for Food, Use H.A.L.T.

Step #1: Ask yourself, am I:   Hungry? Angry? Lonely? Tired?

Step #2:

If you are Hungry, ask yourself: “Would I eat an apple right now?”

“Yes” = you are truly hungry

“No, I want cookies” = sugar craving

If you are Angry: Instead of eating, take a walk.

If you are Lonely: Instead of eating, call a friend.

If you are Tired: Instead of eating, take a nap


Can you relate to any of these?

I was especially struck by my own tendency to not be particularly hungry at a given time of day, but still wanting something sweet. That’s a sure sign of a sugar craving – likely to impact both my blood sugar and mood!

Not a good combination, at all.

It’s worth noting, by the way, that even if your choice of something sweet is free of refined sugar or carbohydrates, the end result can be the same – i.e. the taste of sugar begets more sugar. Meaning that even a stevia-sweetened treat can leave you wanting more! (I can personally attest to that one!)

As we move into the New Year, why not try on a new habit?

When you feel those cravings strike, take a moment to H.A.L.T.! Ask yourself – are you hungry? Are you lonely? Tired? Angry? Bored? What’s really going on with you?

Are there healthier choices you could be making instead?

If you’re really feeling stuck and ready to take this a step further, please don’t hesitate to get some help.

And be sure to stay tuned – during the month of January I’ll be taking you on a journey to better health, that promises to set you up for a lifetime of SUCCESS!

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