For many, Halloween is a stressful holiday due to endless loads of candy lurking in festive bowls on break rooms tables, amidst grocery store clearance aisles, and atop refrigerators so kids can't raid the trick-or-treat bags. Having such large amounts of candy around can cause anxiety if you're not used to having it around. If you have been dieting for a number of years, candy is likely a food that is complicated for you. It's not as simple as just, "having one and then stopping." It makes you feel out of control. It's enticing, yet you feel betrayed and discouraged when you "give in" and have it. Therefore, when October 31st rolls around, you panic. You try and convince yourself that you're not going to have any candy so you don't eat it all, but when you're exposed to it on the holiday, you lose what you feel to be all of your willpower. You give in, have a major candy binge, and spiral down then dark mental shaming cycle, like every other year. Sound familiar? If it does, you're not alone. I remember when I felt like I couldn't have sweets in the house because I would binge on them. I remember not wanting leftovers because I would feel like I had to have some of it everyday and would think about it nonstop if I knew it was in the kitchen. Feeling unsafe around food is very common for people who have given in to what I call, "dieting mentality." The good part? There's hope. Funny enough, the cure to never binging again is not what you might think. Research, professional, and personal experience all point to something that might surprise you when it comes to food and your eating patterns. Like many other things in life, your eating patterns are impacted by exposure. Let's look at a metaphor for how this works. For example, I live in Idaho. The sun only shines brilliantly for about 3-4 months out of the year. For the remaining 8-9 months of the year, my caucasian complexion turns to what you might call...translucent due to the lack of sun. (It's not a great look.) Now, when the sun does decide to come out in North Idaho, what do you think would happen to my pale white skin if I sat in the blaze of the sun without sunscreen? That's right, I would fry my little hiney off. I'd be blistered and would have really hurt myself. Food exposure is like sun exposure. If you avoid certain foods because you have deemed them as "bad," when you are reintroduced to them you get burned by them. Why? Because you've deprived yourself of them. Restriction is a breeding ground for binging. When you tell yourself, "I am never going to eat that food again." or "If I have this I have to skip breakfast tomorrow." You are living in mental (or physical) restriction. However, research shows that if you expose yourself to foods you've previously restricted freely, your brain will care about them less and less overtime. Much like my pale white skin, if I regularly expose my skin to sunlight all throughout the year (hello tropical vacations), then when the hot blaze in July comes, I am not going to get burnt because I have had reoccurring exposure to the sun. My skin adjusts to the sun's rays and is not licked by its intensity. Are you following me? Regularly exposing yourself to restricted food items actually decreases your likelihood of binging on that food. It becomes less enticing, less special, and just "another food" that is always available. Here are 3 ways to set yourself up for success in these next few days leading up to Halloween. #1. Allow yourself to have candy. Telling yourself that you can't have any candy, will make you want it more. Leading up to Halloween, allow yourself to have candy when it sounds good. Remember, constant exposure actually makes things less enticing to your brain. #2. Focus on savoring the candy. Sometimes when you start allowing yourself to have food items you previously restricted your thoughts sound something like this: "Oh my gosh I can't believe I'm having this food." "This is so unhealthy. I am going to have to run 5 miles to work this off." "I am messing up big time by eating this Kit-Kat." If you are constantly telling yourself you're doing something wrong, you're not able to actually enjoy what you're eating. This makes you want more of it because you're not allowing yourself to be satisfied by that food item. Instead of mentally beating yourself up while eating, give yourself permission to eat, be confident in your food decision, and ENJOY what you're eating. You'll be more satisfied and actually eat less. #3 Don't restrict so you can binge. Sometimes when a holiday is coming up, or a special occasion that includes food, you may feel yourself wanting to go into "supercharged restriction mode" leading up to the event because you know you're going to binge when it rolls around. Unfortunately, this often means that you might be more likely to skip out on a meal if you know you're going to a Halloween party. Typically, restriction happens because you want to eat candy at the party so you deprive yourself of a nutritious meal before you go in order to "save" for the event. By doing this, you actually miss out on food that could bring you fuel and satisfaction. You are also telling your brain that you will binge by forcing it to restrict. Instead of skipping meals to "make up" for what's to come, ensure that you get a balanced meal leading up to Halloween. If you go in hungry to candy town, you're more likely to binge. Also, remind yourself THIS IS NOT THE ONLY TIME YOU CAN HAVE CANDY. Feeling like this is a once in a lifetime opportunity will make you crave the candy more. I hope this gives you some food for thought this Halloween. If you are wanting more help with kicking binging for good, I'd love to walk you through proven practices that will get you the freedom you deserve! Check out my services below- pssst I take insurance!!!
https://www.honestnutritioncda.com/services Feel like you've got your cravings under control but you want a hand in preparing meals? Check out my next online cooking class! Visit link below for more information. https://www.honestnutritioncda.com/event-details/ Mikyah, RDN, CD Owner. Honest Nutrition, LLC