Don't Be Tricked By the Treats; 5 Easy Steps to Not Binge or Overeat Halloween Candy

Halloween is just a few short days away. Costumes are ready, the decorations are out and the pumpkins are carved.  Did you buy some of your favorite snack sized candy bars for the little Treaters, hoping you can just enjoy one or two pieces for yourself? Or,  does having all of that Halloween candy around the house feel so stressful, like a cruel trick?

In the past, to me Halloween candy seemed like a supernatural being that possessed multiple powers. It would act like a magnet pulling me in that I couldn’t resist no matter how hard I tried. Or, it would act like burning coals and I knew if I touched it I would get burned. Or, if somehow I forgot it was there, it disguised itself into something friendly and kind.  I would be tricked me into having just one piece, that ultimately turned into two, or five, or 10 or countless more.

Halloween candy doesn’t have to have that kind of power over you. You can breeze through this upcoming holiday without the worry that those bite sized Snickers bars may get the best of you. You don’t have to go to bed on October 31st with remorse and a bloated belly.

For starters, make the choice to eat the candy when you truly want it and are actually hungry. I realize how basic this advice sounds: eat when you are hungry and eat the food you desire. However many chronic dieters do not follow these simple guidelines. A few years ago, when I looked through my daughter’s trick or treating bag, the Peanut M&M’s jumped out at me. I was hungry and they were exactly what I wanted.

Now that you made your candy choice, give the candy your full attention. Sit down. Get away from the TV and the laptop. Shut down your Facebook and Instagram. Notice the taste and the consistency and experience the whole eating process. When I was eating the Peanut M&M’s, I did notice how much I liked the crunch but not the taste. They were too sweet to me and the peanuts were tasteless.

After you had one piece, you may want a second. Check in and ask yourself some questions. Are you still hungry? Are you still enjoying the taste? Knowing you can eat this candy without guilt, how do you want to feel after you have eaten it?

If the answer is- I’m not sure (often my answer), then make a choice to leave the candy where it is for 20 minutes and go do something else. Give yourself full permission to eat another piece in 20 minutes if you still want it. This step is not about not eating the candy but about giving yourself the space to eat with intention.

After I had the Peanut M&M’s, I noticed that my belly felt bloated. Assess how your body feels, so that next time you can make a powerful and informed choice. I can choose to eat Peanut M&M’s again, but if I do, I may be choosing to not feel my best.

Changing your relationship with food is a process and a practice. Certain foods don’t need to be bad or forbidden. You can trust yourself around all foods and build confidence in yourself that you can be in charge of your own choices. Halloween candy is a great place to start.

Now, I enjoy the little ones in their costumes that come to the front door. The Halloween candy is there if I choose to have a piece or two. I don’t give it much thought or concern. You can have that same freedom, which is one amazing treat. 

What Happens When You Stop Following Food Rules

This just seems like another day. A day with plans to spend time with family, squeeze in a bit of work and play outside in the newly fallen snow. I couldn’t help but to notice that it wasn’t just any other day, although it felt that way. It was the day after Thanksgiving. And this year, I’m so grateful for the freedom I was able to experience preparing our feast, enjoying it and more importantly the time spent after it was all finished. Before this year, freedom was the last way I would describe my experience of Thanksgiving. It was more about struggle, worry, guilt and shame. Thankfully this year, I gave up a few old patterns and embraced new ones. This year, I didn’t break any rules. Not because I followed all of them, but because I did not have any to break. In the past and as recent as last year, I’ve made my family dizzy with which diet I was following. They had a hard time keeping track of whether I was following a vegan, vegetarian, Paleo, dairy free, sugar free, low carb, or gluten free diet. For me, I would plan well in advance and prepare special food that I would allow myself to eat. All the while, I would be noticing not what I could eat but what I couldn’t. Or, there were years that I would be following a particular diet up until Thanksgiving, and then allow myself one day to go off it. No matter what I did, I felt guilty and my mind was preoccupied with the should and shouldn’t. This year our dinner table was filled with an abundance of beautifully prepared foods that our whole family took the time to make. I didn’t see the food as either good or bad. I simply enjoyed it.

This year, I ate and lived moment to moment. I made from scratch chocolate chip scones and spinach, feta and red pepper quiche Thanksgiving morning. It felt so indulgent to have chocolate for breakfast. The kids and Mark loved them and so did I. There were many Thanksgiving mornings that I would only allow myself fruit or maybe a green juice or smoothie with the idea that I had to eat as light as possible to prepare for the huge amount of eating that would come next. For some meals, eating only fruit or green juices could be perfect, but I would make that choice based on what would serve me best in the moment. I ate the perfect amount that morning and trusted that in my next meal I would do the same.

This year, working out was something I simply made time for. But it wasn’t my main focus. In years past, I would plan for an extra long run or an extra challenging workout Thanksgiving morning. I knew I was going to be eating a lot of calories and I needed to pay my dues so I could deserve to eat the extra serving of mash potatoes and pumpkin pie. This year, I just knew I would feel better if I moved. I went down to the basement; I got some good sweat on and finished with a headstand. It took less than 30 minutes. I was completely unconcerned with how many calories I burned or how many calories I was planning on eating.

This year, I went to bed feeling great. My belly wasn’t stuffed with food. We ate a later dinner and funny enough, decided to wait until the next day to dive into the special chocolate cheesecake that Anna made. I remember past Thanksgivings where we would finish our dinner and immediately break out the pies. I did this without any regard to whether I was hungry for them or not. As our family was preparing our meal earlier in the day, we sat down for some cauliflower soup and a few fun appetizers. Afterward, we shared a slice of pumpkin pie. It was perfect to have a small dessert before our main meal.

Thanksgiving is an opportunity to share and acknowledge all of the things we are grateful for. This year, I’ve let myself out of prison. A prison that I designed myself around an obsession with food and body weight. My prison robbed me of enjoying my life fully. How could I really enjoy and be thankful for my family, friends, our health, our homes and all of the wonderful things I truly have in my life when I’m mentally and emotionally consumed with what, when and how much I’m going to eat and how long I’m going to work out? It was exhausting and I did it for a long time. This year, I let go of diets, food rules and the idea that I have to struggle with my weight. This year, I’ve deepened my practice of connecting to the wisdom of my body. I’ve held the key to letting myself out of this prison the whole time. Starting this year, Thanksgiving for me is now about freedom, gratitude, connection and celebration. I am so grateful.

This Moment

View outside of Seacoast Power Yoga in Exeter, NH. I arrived on my yoga mat after a few days off and immediately felt antsy. All I could think about was wanting to get “this” over with so I could move onto the next thing.

Thankfully I was in the right place. Yoga was exactly what I needed at that moment. Breathing, moving and sweating gave me access to a more grounded and centered place.

How often do we rush from one thing to the other? Even thinking that the planning for the next moment is more important than the moment we are in? I remember when my kids were toddlers. We would start the day together and I would give them the itinerary. Breakfast, swim lessons, rest, lunch, park, rest, play date, dinner when Daddy get’s home, bed. I would sit with Ryan in Brueggers Bagels and tell him; “okay buddy, we are going to finish lunch, go home for a nap and then walk to the park”. Even though he was probably doing a better job enjoying playing with his blocks and eating his bagel than I was, I was clearly sending him a message around time. Looking back, the message was: have your days planned out and always get ready for what comes next.

I know I'm not alone in this habit. This is our natural response to managing our busy and often over scheduled lives. And I understand that if we didn’t have a general plan to our day, we may be at risk of not accomplishing what’s important. But the downside is, and it’s a big one, we miss out on what’s really happening. We miss the present moment. Funny enough, our focus on the plans for our life often gets in the way of living it. Life is filled with sunshine, smiles, sweetness, disappointments, downturns, accomplishments, celebrations, loneliness, tears and so many thousands of other things to experience. Let's make sure we don't miss a beat.

For me, reminding myself to be in the present moment isn’t enough. Here are some tips to help ground yourself in the here and now:

- First catch yourself. Be aware when you are anywhere but where you are.

- Notice the impact. What do you miss when you are somewhere else? A loved one’s laugh? The smell of fresh air? The sound of the birds?

- Take a breath- a really deep one. Your breath is always in the present moment.

- Move and sweat. Burn off some of that extra energy and center yourself in your body.

- Be firm and gentle all at the same time. Stay committed to living your life in the present moment. When you do catch yourself somewhere else, be gentle when you bring yourself back.

Experiencing your life is not about wishing pieces of it away to get onto the next thing. It’s about trusting. Have faith that what this moment holds for you is just right. Instead of looking past this moment to the next, let’s live the life that’s right in front of us.



The Key

A short while back, I was driving to Seacoast Power Yoga and this thought popped into my head- if I had a month to live, what would I change about how I was living? Yeah, there is a good chance that one of those American Idol winners or some country music singer was on the radio at the time singing about living life to the fullest. But for some reason, this thought hit home and something immediately came to mind.  I would change all of the negative mind share I was giving to my body and the food I ate. This was weighing me down like a ball and chain and enough was enough. Sure, I’ve come a long way with this stuff. I had become a much more mindful eater, I had approached my body in a much more loving way, and exercise became much more fun and less about burning calories. But something continued to linger and I realized that I didn’t want to give it any more negative thought or concern. A few weeks later, I took, what may seem to some as, a radical step. I decided to just drink liquids for 10 days. I gathered up a couple of friends to have as partners in crime and we jumped into drinking fresh fruit and vegetable juices, smoothies, and herbal teas on the “Get Juicy” cleanse. On the first day of this cleanse, I wrote down all of the limiting beliefs I had around food, my body, and my life.  The light went on!  I saw right there on the piece of paper in front of me what was weighing me down- the beliefs I had about myself.  And those beliefs; what I do or do not deserve in life, what kind of life was possible for me, what my body could be like, were all just thoughts that I chose to believe.

That one question in the car ride created a really powerful change for me. I’m now physically and mentally lighter. I’m so grateful that I decided to not waste another day feeling weighed down. I don’t have to go skydiving or ride a bull to feel like I’m really living my life. I just had to unlock that ball and chain from around my ankle. Funny enough, I had the key the whole time.