Halloween is the holiday for pumpkin carving, playing dress up, spooky decorations, haunted houses, and of course, candy – a lot of candy.
For anyone who has struggled with food and weight concerns, Halloween isn’t always all fun and games. For some, it feels like the ultimate test of willpower, where temptation lurks around every single corner. And, the fear of “losing control” can be constant and all consuming.
The internet gives us all sorts of tricks for avoiding those tempting treats, but they are rarely effective. One piece of candy easily turns into one bag, and before we know it, we can find ourselves surrounded by a pile of wrappers, feeling guilty, defeated, ashamed, and maybe even a little sick.
Why can’t we seem to get a grip on our Halloween candy consumption?
What you need to know.
- It’s not your fault or because you lack willpower or knowledge.
- You haven’t done anything wrong. Overeating is part of normal eating. This might even be especially true when we are talking about holiday eating.
- You don’t need to feel powerless around food, even Halloween candy, anymore.
If you’re tired of playing tug-of-war with the candy bowl and want to end the power struggle we’ve got a few ideas that may help.
10 Tips for Taking the Fear out of Halloween Eating
- Broaden your focus. There is a lot more to the Halloween holiday than just the candy. However, when we are stuck in a place of food and weight worries it can be hard to see beyond it. So, try to expand your focus to notice and appreciate everything else that this holiday has to offer – like the aforementioned carving pumpkins, spooky decorations, fun costumes, and haunted houses. Think, what else do you, or your kids, enjoy about Halloween? I bet candy is but a single item on a long list. When you can step back and see the big picture, you begin to notice that candy is just one piece. That helps to keep the candy in perspective, preventing it from gaining the undue power it gets when it becomes our focus.
- Give yourself permission to eat the candy. If you’ve read my blogs in the past, you might notice that this idea of granting permission is a reoccurring theme. I’ve written about why this is so important here and also how to do it here. In short, giving ourselves permission to eat candy on Halloween (and any other day of the year) is important because again, it helps to strip the candy of its power. As soon as we tell ourselves we aren’t allowed to have it, its appeal becomes so much greater. Combine that heightened appeal with the excessive quantity sitting in the trick or treat bucket in front of us, and it’s not hard to predict the outcome of that scenario. Bottom line: permission helps to end the power struggle with food and allows you to take charge of your food decisions.
- Pause first. Before you start tearing open candy wrappers, take a moment to pause and ask, without judgment, “do I really want this?” Repeat before each new piece of candy. It’s so easy for eating to become automatic, especially in the presence of so many tasty little delights. It’s easy to mindlessly have a piece here and there as we wait for trick-or-treaters to arrive at the door, without even realizing it….that is, until we notice the pile of wrappers that have accumulated on the floor.
- Quiet those critical thoughts. You know, those thoughts like…
“If I have just one piece I know I will eat the whole bag.”
“I can’t believe you are eating that. Do you know how much sugar is in that?”
“Well, I already blew it so I might as well finish the bag so it’s out of the house and won’t tempt me again.”
“I need to make sure I get as much as I can now because tomorrow I am going back on my diet and who knows when I’ll be able to eat candy again!”
First, just notice these thoughts. Then, practice interrupting the thought and engaging a healthier, more supportive voice. This thought stopping technique can be helpful for redirecting your thoughts, which can ultimately help to redirect your actions.
- Avoid recommendations for “healthy” substitutions. In addition to the abundance of candy that abounds, this time of year also comes a flood of “healthy eating” blogs posts instructing you on the best swaps for your candy bowl. SCROLL RIGHT PAST THESE POSTS. They only function to give the forbidden fruit (in this case, the Halloween candy) more power by making them even more forbidden. And, they will never work.Inevitably when we try to substitute in the “healthier” alternative for what we really want we find ourselves either overeating on “healthy” food in an attempt to satisfy our desire for something different. Or, filling up on “healthy” food only to find our way back to what we really wanted to begin with. Regardless, the end result is often feeling overfull and under-satisfied.
- Savor it. Slow down and tune in to each bite your take. Rather than quickly unwrapping and devouring pieces in between doorbell rings, maybe set aside several pieces of your favorite kind, wait until you’ve turned off the porch light, and give yourself time to savor and truly enjoy the experience. Notice how each piece looks, how it smells, the textures on your tongue, how it tastes as you chew and then what is left after you’ve swallowed. How long does the flavor linger? Did you enjoy that bite? Do you want more? Try to make each bite deliberate and intentional.
At Green Mountain at Fox Run, we do a weekly mindful eating exercise with a dessert course and participants are often surprised to learn that they can feel more satisfied with smaller portions of a dessert than they thought possible, simply by slowing down and tuning in to the eating process.
- Resist the urge to compensate. You don’t need to punish yourself for your Halloween candy eating, overeating, or binge by restricting your food intake before or after, or increasing your exercise to “burn it off.” Long-term, this only functions to create more strain on your relationship with food and exercise. Instead, simply resume your regular eating and moving routine, one that hopefully feels good to your body. And, if you are not sure how to do this, Green Mountain at Fox Run can help you learn! We’ve been supporting women for over four decades in learning how to end the dieting madness, make peace with food, and learn to trust their bodies. Remind yourself, what you eat in a single day has little bearing on overall health.
- Continue to eat balanced meals throughout the day. This will help to keep your blood sugar levels and appetite hormones nice and stable throughout the day, which can help to manage cravings and protect against overeating. You might find that you enjoy your candy more and feel better physically after eating it, if you follow this principle.
- Listen to your body. As you eat your candy continue to check in with your body. Notice what it is telling you. Are you hungry? Comfortable? Too full? You might find using a hunger and fullness gauge is helpful for facilitating this process of checking in. How do you want to feel after you’ve finished? How will more candy make your body feel? Remember, there is no right or wrong answer here. The choice is always yours. Even if you notice, “I am getting full and more candy might make me feel too full,” you are still allowed to eat it. Tuning in to what your body is saying simply allows you to notice and make an informed decision rather than an impulsive one.
- Have fun! Instead of trying to trick yourself into avoiding the candy this year, invest that energy into treating yourself to a really fun Halloween holiday!
WE CAN HELP YOU FIND FREEDOM FROM STRUGGLES WITH OVEREATING AND WEIGHT.
Contact us to learn more about our 44-year old philosophy for sustainable health and wellness – without counting calories, boot camp work-outs, or restrictive dieting.
We’re here to guide you, but give you tools to solidify your success at home. If you’re ready for real change, give us a call at 802-228-8885; we’re here for you.
This year, we hope you can leave the Halloween scares to the ghosts and goblins, and let candy become part of the fun.
Join us at Green Mountain for an experience that can change your life. Call us at (802)-228-8885 for more information. Happy Halloween!