Bins filled with giant bags of candy make their way to the front of the grocery store this time of year. With isles of candy and that cool crisp fall air, I sometimes start to wonder if those carolers had it all wrong and THIS is actually "the most wonderful time of the year."
But for many experiencing the chains of a dieting mindset and body hate, Halloween can be the very worst time of the year. Bags of candy hidden away from little hands...and big hands...hoping you won't remember where you hid it…at least for a few weeks.
Beloved, Halloween doesn't have to be this way. With the unconditional permission to eat enjoyable and pleasurable foods concept of non-diet approaches, the chains have been lifted. The head game is finally over. Go find your hidden candy and rejoice. You no longer have to be held captive by the guilt-shame dieting cycle.
See, it's the "you shouldn't have that" mentality that is making you want it. I've worked with many dieters to know this truth: When you stop labeling foods as “good” or “bad” you can start truly giving yourself permission to eat ALL foods in amounts that feel good in your body. Those morsels that satisfy your cravings lose their power. For real. I know it is hard to believe, but this freedom can be yours too.
It’s not an easy journey and it doesn’t happen overnight, but take a good hard look at your past internal food fights. As a good therapist might say, “How’s that been working for you?” It’s not. Let’s face it, candy isn’t going anywhere. So instead of dreading this season, it’s time to embrace it.
One Halloween long ago, I became a chocolate snob. I had learned about mindful eating - how to slow down the eating process so that I could truly taste and savor my delicious sweet treat. I learned how to smell it, work that morsel around all of the taste buds and crevices in my mouth while closing my eyes to turn off the other distractions. I learned how to truly savor my food. Do you know what happened? I actually started noticing that I'm honestly not a big fan of Halloween candy.
Can you believe it? I was as close to a human pumpkin as you could get - a carrot top born on Halloween, of all days! After a childhood filled with the best costume birthday parties and trick-or-treating marathons, how could I all of a sudden stop enjoying Halloween candy? Here's what happened - I started realizing that the sweet treats I truly crave and desire are the richer versions of chocolate - Dove, Toblerone, Milka, Magnum...those (in my opinion) are the chocolates that dreams are made of. And I usually can't find those goodies in my son’s Halloween candy bag.
Now I realize I am very fortunate to be able to purchase the candy I truly crave and keep a well-stocked cupboard, and that not everyone may have the means to do so. For some, the very best-tasting candy might be the free kind, and that’s perfectly fine too.
Regardless of your candy-stashing capabilities, this blog is an invitation to pause and smell the roses – or in this case, the candy. Do you feel drawn to impulsively eat the candy that happens to be sitting on your co-worker's desk that you don't REALLY like? Or have you ever even noticed? No need to mess around with just anything sweet that comes your way. Notice which foods you find truly pleasurable and satisfying – whether sweet or savory.
Be ready with the good stuff for the next time a craving hits. As you are able…
All. Year. Long.
It’s okay to reach for the candy when you just have a hankering for something sweet! For me, it's almost always after dinner. That's the time for a piece of some quality chocolate...most evenings. Year round. And a piece or two, eaten slowly, with intention and without guilt, nearly almost satisfies that craving for sweets.
The head game ends when you start to believe that you can have your favorite sweet not just on Halloween, but ANY TIME. It’s not a TRICK. It’s a TREAT.
Dawn is an Associate Professor of Nutrition and a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. She is a wife and a mother to an amazing 11-year old boy. Dawn enjoys finding creative ways to spread the word that God’s unconditional love can bring healing to every broken relationship, including one with food.