How to Use the Intuitive Eating Principles for a Stress Free Halloween
For many, Halloween is an exciting day filled with costumes, creativity, and candy. Children run and revel in awe and others enjoy pots of pumpkin punch at spooky soirees. Unfortunately, for some, Halloween induces wicked worry, instead.
Often, people struggle with eating around the holidays and especially at Halloween for a variety of reasons. If you or someone you know has a tumultuous relationship with food, navigating meals, food, and how candy on Halloween can feel like a cauldron of ghoulish anxiety, it’s most likely, because the holiday revolves around food and candy, of course!
No need to fear, though. By integrating the six intuitive eating principles on Halloween, you will prepare yourself for success and a stress-free Halloween holiday. If you don’t know much about intuitive eating, learn more here, then click the Resources tab on the far right, and check out the 10 Principles.
The first six principles are most pertinent to Halloween, so here is why and how to apply them.
Reject the diet mentality. First, avoid beginning a diet near or on Halloween. Well, avoid starting a diet EVER, but especially on this spooooky holiday. Dieting perpetuates disordered eating habits and patterns, and doesn’t work 95% of the time, anyways. Cutting out food in any fashion is usually not your healthiest choice. Try one near Halloween and you will most likely feel chaotic, neurotic, and hyper-focused on the orange and black food and treats. You’ll also miss out on the joyous, relational opportunities of Halloween.
Honor your hunger throughout the day. Similar to Thanksgiving, many people hoard their calories for the evening on Halloween. They reason that eating more candy is OK as long as they eat very little or only “clean” foods throughout the day. Unfortunately, this hoarding method not only fails, it makes binge or overeating much more likely and encourages poor future patterns of eating on holidays. It is OK, normal, even encouraged to eat some candy on Halloween, but you will feel physically and mentally better by eating normally throughout the day, even if you plan to consume a few Reeses and Tootsie Rolls.
Make peace with ALL food. The brain is incomprehensibly smart and knows when you are depriving and/or desiring to deprive it, physically and mentally. Diets literally require you to deprive yourself of total energy and/or certain foods/food groups. This will only increase your cravings and desire to inhale the Halloween candy in large quantities. However, when you view food as neutral, free of morality, your brain doesn’t feel as strong of a need to send those desirable signals. You can view and include candy as part of a balanced eating pattern.
Challenge the food police. Nobody needs to suffer being handcuffed from the candy bucket on Halloween. Whether it’s you or someone else, the food police monitor silly rules about right and wrong, good and bad, safe and unsafe foods. But, to fully experience a memorable, joyful Halloween, challenge the food police trying to scare you. Re-frame negative thoughts about food and candy, and tell the police they can return if you’ve actually done something morally wrong. Eating some candy certainly isn’t!
Respect your fullness. This takes a lot of practice, whether you’re a frequent yo-yo dieter or consider yourself a “normal” eater. Nonetheless, it is so empowering to be fully connected to the signals your body provides. On the 31st day of October, tune into these signals, and listen when your body sends signals of satisfaction. If you cannot physically or naturally detect fullness for whatever reason, some other signs of fullness/satisfaction include slowing pace, lack of interest, food losing taste, heaviness in the lower abdomen, desire to nap, and many more.
Discover the satisfaction factor. You can actually try this by practicing mindful portioning. I love this mindful concept, because everyone’s mindfulness is slightly different. To one person, a mindful portion may be one snack sized Snickers. To someone else, a mindful portion may be a full sized Hershey chocolate candy bar. Both are OK!
Halloween is a wonderful opportunity to actively practice mindful eating based on your own cues and cravings. Yes, I’m telling you to honor your cravings! When you honor your cravings and then move on, you will feel satisfied. If you think there is no way you can mindfully eat your favorite candy, refer back to a time when you did overeat a “forbidden” food. Reflect on what would have made that experience more satisfying. For certain, you will not feel satisfied if you’re trying to avoid the candy you desire the entire night, or if you eat enough candy to feel sick. It is possible to feel satisfied eating mindfully.
Halloween may be scary, but it shouldn’t be because of the food, candy, or even drinks. Remember, it is one day out of the year, and eating some candy will not derail your health and wellness goals. And, even though, candy represents a huge part of Halloween, you can still have candy any day of your life. Tell yourself this over and over, and your brain might just start to believe ya.
How will you practice mindful eating this Halloween? Let us know in the comments!
Adrien Paczosa is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian practicing in Austin, Texas and the surrounding counties.
She is the owner and founder of I Live Well Nutrition her Dietitian practice which started in 2007 and serves clients in the Austin, Texas area in two locations. Fearless Practitioners, the division of her business that offers training to dietitians and wellness professionals.