Hands up if you feel like eating Halloween candy is scarier than the actual holiday itself. Is your hand up? Then this blog is for you.
At NourishRX we want to help you re-discover the joy and satisfaction of eating Halloween candy without the scary feelings. As we enter Spooky Season, we know that candy can be anxiety-provoking for people who are working on improving their relationship with food. You may be experiencing some challenging internal thoughts which can ultimately impact how you act around it.
Restriction of candy → exposure to the food → intense cravings or feeling like “screw it, I’ll just do it” → feeling out of control around the food → compensatory restriction or “starting over” the next day.
If this feels like you, you are not alone! In fact, you my find support from others who feel the same way in our Intuitive Eating Community Membership.
This cycle typically perpetuates the stigma that “you can’t be trusted” around certain types of food which ultimately inhibits your ability to trust your body. We want to remind you that this is diet culture talking. Without the restriction inserted into the cycle above, your body is able to regulate what and how much it needs in that exact moment. Being able to increase your trust and connection with your body cues while pushing back on the intrusive, diet-y thoughts will ultimately lead to an increase in food freedom.
Trust us, we hear you and we know how challenging it can be to try to push back against some of these intrusive thoughts surrounding certain types of food. But we’re here to say (over and over and over again)- it is okay for you to have candy. We’ll repeat. It is okay for you to have candy.
Feeling like you’re wanting to tackle your relationship with eating Halloween candy? Let’s review three tips to approaching Halloween through an Intuitive Eating lens.
1. Remember that food does not have morality.
As much as influencers would like us to believe it, food does not carry morality. In other words, what we eat doesn’t make us “good” or “bad”. It's not black and white!
I know you may be thinking, “but some foods are always detrimental to everyone’s health, how can you say there are no bad foods?” Sure, foods have varying nutritional value but that does not equate to having moral value. This means that eating something that is socially viewed as “healthy” does not make you a good person while eating something socially deemed as “unhealthy” does not make you bad.
Let’s break it down a little further. On a molecular level, all foods are made up of the same components: carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and vitamins and minerals. All foods have these components in different amounts and can impact energy levels in varying ways. And the best part is - our stomach does not have eyes. It doesn’t know whether you had a Snickers or a sweet potato, it just recognizes the digested and absorbed nutrients and uses them appropriately.
The minute we label a food as good or bad we give it power that it doesn’t deserve. When we reframe our thoughts around eating Halloween candy and look at Halloween candy as just another food, we take the power away from it and are able to enjoy it without guilt or shame.
Without the power, we can look at eating Halloween candy like eating any other food and use our Intuitive Eating skills to help guide us. Are we hungry right now? Which Halloween candy are you in the mood for? Do you want to try them all just for a taste of childhood? Which are your favorites? Which textures and flavors are you enjoying the most? Do they taste different than you remember? When we stop arbitrarily labeling Halloween candy as “bad” we can treat it like any other food, and move on with our lives when we’re finished eating it.
2. Unconditional permission
Now that we’ve determined that Halloween candy doesn’t carry morality, we can move on to unconditional permission to eat it! We’ve talked about unconditional permission to eat before on the blog since it is an essential part of Intuitive Eating.
Contrary to popular belief, this element is less about eating whatever you want whenever you want, and more about removing all layers of restriction we have hiding in our minds. When we restrict foods (physically OR mentally), we give them a bright red warning label in our mind that makes our brains want them more. It gets even harder to resist these foods, and we can often end up indulging to a point of uncomfortable fullness in a “last supper” meal.
We say “last supper” because in your mind you think to yourself “this is the last time I’m ever going to eat this. Tomorrow I start restricting again, so I better enjoy this now since it’s the last time I’ll ever have it!” Last supper eating is normally done with a plan to control our eating around certain foods in the future (think back to the binge/restrict cycle we mentioned earlier).
Unconditional permission to eat foods we would normally only eat at our “last supper” sends a signal to our brain that those foods are not restricted. Once we don’t believe that they are being restricted, we can tune into our body signals around those foods. We no longer feel the need to eat all of the Halloween candy because we may never get it again. We can eat a few candies, think about how they make us feel, and maybe come back later if we want more or we can eat no candies at all because we’re not in the mood! Unconditional permission to eat gives you agency to make decisions that feel good to you.
3. Honor your cravings
Lastly, I’m sure you’ve heard this one before, but when you’re craving something, ignoring the craving will not make it go away. Now that you’ve given yourself unconditional permission to eat the candy and you no longer consider it good or bad, you can participate in the spirit of the Spooky Season by honoring your cravings around Halloween candy.
Remember: candy is part of the culture of the holiday and can contribute to the overall enjoyment of the day. As we have talked about before on the blog, eating for holidays or for cultural reasons is a component of normalized eating. Labeling Halloween candy as “bad” takes us out of the current moment. The fear of eating Halloween candy removes us from the excitement of the Spooky Season (which we want you to be able to enjoy and participate to the fullest).
So, what kind of candy are you craving? Chocolate? Candy corn? Do you want it to have a crunch? Do you want nuts? What about creamy? Do you want it to melt in your mouth? Do you want it cold? The choices are endless and ultimately up to you.
As always, you can reach out to the NourishRX team for individualized attention if you want to explore these concepts further. Additionally, here's another invitation (because we think it's pretty awesome) to check out our membership program. There, you will find group support and lessons on incorporating Intuitive Eating into your life!