Halloween is a bit of a peculiar holiday. Somehow, it simultaneously evokes feelings of pure joy and excitement in young kids and many adults and a paradoxical reaction of fear and excitement in those of us who have struggled or are struggling with our weight.
In my prime dieting years, I felt I was living a one-woman stage production of Jeckyll and Hyde when Halloween rolled around:
Dieting Danielle (Dr. Jeckyll) would think “oh, Halloween. I am going to be so virtuous because I’m on a diet and this year is going to be different”
Fat kid Danielle (Mr. Hyde) would think “Excellent, Halloween. I’m going to eat everything I come across and I’m going to troll all the best places to find treats (office cabinets, common rooms, etc.”
Neither of these were conscious and neither was distinctly separate. No, they would merge together in an exhausting storm of eating myself sick and then beating myself up for eating myself sick. Rinse and repeat until November 1…or 4th.
5 years on the other side of losing 100lbs, I’m here to tell you that you’ll be ok no matter how you handle Halloween.
There is no horse, no wagon, and no “track” for you to hop off today (October 31) and hop back on when you feel so disgusted with yourself that you can’t bear to be still. It’s all just you and your journey – which, by the way, doesn’t end for as long as you live. This is life and Halloween is a day. Even if it’s 3 days, it’s just a series of days where you made choices. On day 4, you can wake up and make totally different choices. Really!
And so, a few thoughts to help you navigate Halloween so you wake up on November 1 feeling awesome (which you are, by the way):
- Taste your treats. I mean really taste them. By all means, eat what you want, but what message are you tossing into your self-feedback loop when you gorge yourself on candy you don’t even like. If Twix is your favourite and Crispy Crunch is just ok, then dang – get yourself some Twix and love the crap out of every one.
- Believe there’s more. Seriously – there is always more candy at the store. In abundance. Never-ending!! Yes, Halloween is a time when candy is all around you and if you’re someone who is used to wrapping candy in duct tape and locking it in a safe, then you’ve likely convinced yourself that candy is something you “can’t” have around. Truth is, you CAN always have candy. If you aren’t, it’s because you’re choosing not to, but the tipping point is whether you are choosing not to eat candy from a place of fear or a place of love. Sounds a bit granola, sure, but really think about whether your choice to limit your candy consumption is rooted in fear that you’ll eat way too much (which results in believing you can’t be trusted and locking it away to restrain yourself) OR knowledge that having candy at that particular time will lead you to feel gross – because maybe you’ve already eaten a lot that day, or already had a bunch of mini chocolate bars – and therefore making an executive choice to show yourself love by NOT eating more than you know feels good in your body. Which leads to my next tip…
- Believe you deserve to feel good/proud. Because you do. You are worthy of being nice to yourself, and this applies whether you eat ALL THE CANDY on Halloween or not. If you’re used to self-flagellating, this will seem crazy, but I guarantee you that you can do no harm by taking this approach rather than making yourself feel like shit, throwing out every sugar-containing item in your kitchen and vowing you’ll never eat chocolate again…until you binge. After all, we know that self-forgiveness is a key to long-term weight loss.
- Own your choices. This stems from the tip above. Whatever you choose, own it. You ate a whole box of fun-size chocolate bars? Oh well! Tune into your body afterwards, and the next day, and use your sensations as feedback for next time. Approach yourself with curiosity and fascination, replacing “You gross pig, I can’t believe you did that. You’re so disgusting,” with “Huh! I wonder what was going on that made me feel like I wanted to eat all of those at once even though I knew deep down I would feel gross afterwards!” and get on with your day. And yes, you can even have chocolate again the next day. Just commit to making the choices that feel good to you in your soul and body and I promise that the balance will come naturally
- Practice. All of your choices are just practice for the next time you’re in a similar situation. If you overeat on Halloween, you did not “Fail Halloween.” And this does not mean you are consequently going to “Fail Christmas” too. You made choices about food on one day or a few days out of many in your life. If you eat in a way that you aren’t proud of, then that is practice for the next time you’re in a situation where your favourite foods are available in abundance – what can you do differently? How can you allow yourself to truly enjoy the foods you absolutely love but in a way that doesn’t send you down the shame rabbithole? There is no end-point where you have mastered food and you are some sort of diet Ninja; the only end-point is your best-self and all we can do is make choices that take us closer and avoid choices that take us further away.
A Few Other Resources
The 9 Best Ways to Avoid Overeating Halloween Candy – Psychology Today (these are more superficial but good if you’re someone who knows you won’t overeat chocolate if you’re well fueled).