Tired of feeling stressed and guilty around candy come Halloween? As an intuitive eating dietitian, I’m sharing 3 ways to foster a healthy relationship with candy.
With Halloween around the corner, comes the inevitable stress of having access to an abundance of candy. In a culture that is constantly fear mongering around sugar consumption, how could you not stress about it?
But how does that stress affect your enjoyment of the holiday? How does that anxiety impact your kiddos (if you have ’em)? Do you find yourself sneaking candy after the kids go to bed and feeling guilty afterwards? Are your kids (again, if you have ’em) learning that candy is “bad” or “junk” from you?
What if you could have a more peaceful and neutral relationship to candy in your household?
What if you could tune into your body to tell you how much candy to eat (or not eat) instead of listening to arbitrary rules?
What if you could actually enjoy the candy without feeling guilty afterward?
What if your kiddos could approach candy with attunement and not feel like they have to eat it all because they don’t know when they’ll have another chance to?
It is all possible, my friend.
They key to changing your relationship to candy is changing your mindset around candy. How do you do that, exactly?
Here are 3 ways to stop feeling stressed and guilty around candy:
1. Take candy off the forbidden food pedestal.
When you restrict certain foods or food groups because you feel out of control around them, you’re essentially putting them up on a pedestal. You’re giving them this forbidden food allure and power over you.
It’s kinda like how when you put a toddler in a room with a million toys and tell them the one toy they can’t have is the blue ball. Well, guess which toy they’re going to want to play with and will fixate on until they can?
As adults, we do the same thing with food. If you tell yourself you can’t have pizza or pasta or candy, guess which foods you’re going to constantly be thinking about?
You can also think of it as the “bad boy effect.” There’s something alluring about something or someone we’ve deemed bad for us. If you deem candy as bad, you might find you want it even more.
If you want a healthier relationship with candy, take it off the pedestal. Begin to see it as morally neutral. Give yourself permission to enjoy it without guilt.
Tune into your body and notice if you enjoy candy as much as you convinced yourself you did. Notice how candy makes you feel, mentally and physically.
Start to make choices around candy from a place of attunement, instead of a place of rules and restriction.
2. Keep candy in the house outside of Halloween.
An important piece of making peace with food (even candy) is giving yourself permission to eat it. I’m talking unconditional permission.
This is not permission only around Halloween. This is not permission only if you were “good” the rest of the day. This is not permission if you worked out that day.
This is permission, no matter the circumstances.
When you restrict food, you create a scarcity mindset around it. Your brain only thinks about that food and when you finally have access to it, you feel out of control, maybe you binge, and then convince yourself you can’t be trusted around it, and the restriction begins again.
But it’s the restriction of food that’s leading to the binging or feeling out of control, not the food itself.
Research shows this is the case. When folks are dieting, the pleasure centers in their brains light up even more in response to food that’s been off-limits compared to folks who are not restricting. No wonder you feel out of control around foods you’ve been avoiding.
If you only give yourself permission to have candy once a year, you can bet on a last supper effect (i.e. I must eat this all now because I don’t know when I’ll have it again). Giving yourself permission to have candy in the house outside of just Halloween time can help to neutralize the morality around it.
It can also help your brain to switch from a scarcity mindset to an abundance mindset, helping it to realize that you have access to candy whenever you want it, and not just on this one occasion each year.
3. Watch the language you use.
The language we use around or toward food can impact our beliefs and feelings about food. If you’ve got kids at home, they’re going to adopt the language you use about food.
If you say “candy is full of junk”, you’ll believe that candy is junk.
If you say “I’m so bad for eating that”, your kids will think candy is bad.
If you say “we don’t keep candy in our house”, you’re creating a scarcity mindset around it.
Instead try saying phrases like:
“Candy is just candy, it’s neither good nor bad. Just like an apple is an apple – it’s neither good nor bad.”
“How does candy make me feel?” (Or to a kid, “how does your belly feel after you eat candy?”)
“All food serves a purpose. Candy gives me pleasure.”
“I can have candy at any time of year. Not just today.”
Are these tips helpful? What would you add to this list? Please leave a comment below and let me know!
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