Happy Halloween! This morning you may notice the sold out shelves in CVS and local grocery shops with last minute stockpiling for ‘trick or treaters’ and the holiday festivities. However, if you’re someone who struggles with disordered eating and body image, the holiday can feel agonizing with its emphasis on candy and sweets.
The hyper-focus on candy during this time period can bring up a lot of complicated feelings around food and “health.” And it can feel exhausting and frustrating to have to contend with these while trying to be present for the holiday – whether that’s trick or treating with your children or going to a costume party with friends!
As a reminder – candy has NO moral value. It isn’t bad or wrong. It simply is. You can eat it and not be a bad or shameful person for doing so! If you find yourself getting caught up in diet culture narratives around candy and worried about being surrounded by it on October 31st and the days after, try these 3 simple tips:
- Don’t restrict
Because of diet culture you may feel the urge to restrict your food intake in the morning/afternoon before trick or treating in an effort to ‘save calories.’ Don’t. This will only leave you: 1) cranky and hungry later in the day and unable to be present in the moment as your hunger cues are crying out for food 2) more prone to overeat as you’re starting out extremely hungry and may result in you feeling uncomfortably full later on. Overeating is NOT a bad thing. But it is just emphasized here to show that restriction results in the opposite of what you hope it will accomplish.
- Focus on the memory
If you’re struggling to give yourself permission to eat candy, it may help to broaden the picture. Think about the memories made with your children over chocolate bars or the laughs with friends sharing a pack of sour gummy worms. Those aren’t captured on the nutrition label. If you start to feel guilty for eating candy this also helps to remember – you’re a human making memories and not a machine!
- Give yourself grace
If you feel like you’ve overeaten or feel uncomfortably full – that’s ok! Take a few deep breaths, speak some soothing words to yourself (you are safe, you are ok, you are good) and then do something kind for yourself (talk to a friend on the phone, do something creative, listen to music, etc). On reflection, you can use the opportunity as a learning experience for next time of what/how much feels good and what doesn’t! But most importantly, don’t tear yourself down over it. Halloween is one day of the entire year – a drop in the bucket. Tomorrow is a new day.
Regardless of the season, if you’re looking to further unpack your relationship with food and your body, our therapists would be honored to help. You can reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for a free consultation!
By: Maddy Weingast, Assistant for Wildflower Therapy LLC