The end of summer and start of fall have been flying by! I can’t believe it is already almost Halloween. Fall and Halloween are two of my favorite things! I love the weather, the changing leaves, the crisp air, pumpkin patches, haunted houses, cider mills, and the candy! I know Halloween candy can be really challenging to have around for a lot of people. I hear it a lot in sessions that people “can’t” have Halloween candy around. They either overeat it or end up binging. A lot of times the reason for this is restricting or dieting and never letting themselves have candy. This is called food habituation and there is research that shows the more we are exposed to a food, the less our brain cares about it. Therefore decreasing our desire to eat said food. However, when we tell ourselves we can’t have something, avoid it, and then are presented with it we are more than likely going to overeat because our brain is very interested in it. If you have avoided candy since last Halloween and then allow yourself to have some this year after eating a piece your brain will light up with that interest (dopamine) and it becomes hard to stop potentially leading to feeling out of control around the candy. So what can we do instead!?
1. Give yourself unconditional permission to eat: This can seem very scary and it truly is the way to make peace with food. We have to give ourselves full permission to eat all foods in order to be able to feel relaxed and not out of control around food. This might lead to some overeating certain things at first, but give it some time and patience and it will get easier!
2. Eat what you really want: Start paying attention to what your body wants and what you might crave. Sometimes that might be pizza and other times it might be an apple. This includes noticing how food makes you feel as well. Also if you really want Halloween candy and try to eat something else to avoid it like a piece of fruit more than likely that will lead to overeating. Who can relate to eating something to avoid what you want just to end up eating more and then the thing you were trying to avoid in the first place!?
3. Be mindful: Try eating the Halloween candy mindfully rather than just grabbing it while walking by your co-workers office and not really noticing what you are doing. Notice the colors, the textures, the way it tastes, if you enjoyed it, if it was satisfying or do you want another piece?
4. Don’t try to compensate or save up: Restricting food before going to a Halloween party will absolutely lead to feeling out of control or overeating at the party. Eating normally all day is your best bet. Eat when you are hungry, have all your meals/snacks and then you can eat at the party and feel relaxed around the food and even candy.
Also, if you are working on recovery from an eating disorder and having Halloween candy or even celebrating Halloween in anyway feels overwhelming and too scary this year you DO NOT have to participate! Another option is to give out little toys or stickers instead of candy if you want to participate in that way.
If you relate to feeling out of control around Halloween candy or any food and want some help working through that you can reach me here as always!