This is my favorite holiday of the year, and I’m one of those crazy people who gets super into it.
We have a life-sized skeleton on our front porch and tombstones in the yard, and I think we carved our first pumpkin on the 1st. And like any fanatic, I’ve had Halloween (the 1978 version, of course) on repeat for weeks now.
I’ve always loved Halloween, but it used to present a very big problem for me.
I literally could not stop eating the candy.
The candy I bought for the trick-or-treaters? Gone. The candy my kids got at their school party the week of? Gone. Even the candy my kids came home with on Halloween night — yep, that too. Gone.
I’m ashamed to say that, yes, I stole my kids’ candy. And they would ask me, “Mom, have you seen my candy?” And I’d say, “No, honey, I sure haven’t.”
Can you relate to this?
If so, I have some tips to help you put a stop to the candy free-for-all this year.
What’s So Special About It?
But first, why do we go so crazy around the holidays when it comes to food?
Halloween candy, Thanksgiving buffets, and Christmas cookies — we all just seem to lose control.
Part of it is that we restrict ourselves so much the rest of the year that it feels like a huge relief to have an excuse to blow it out.
We cut carbs, count calories, and try to be “good,” so when the holidays roll around, it’s fun to let loose and be “bad.”
So we approach whatever particular holiday is occurring as if it will be last one of its kind. And with this kind of build-up, we feel we deserve to go all in.
This is exactly what happened to me. I used to treat Halloween like there would never be another one.
This only happens once a year! Hershey’s Miniatures for everyone! (Actually, not everyone. Just me.)
The crazy thing is that Halloween — or any other holiday — really isn’t all that special.
I mean, of course it’s special. But what I mean is that I’m pretty sure I can go to the grocery store at any point during the year, buy a bag of candy, and go home and eat the whole thing. (I wouldn’t even have to steal it from anyone.)
The calendar is packed with holidays — far too many to use every one as an excuse to binge.
Besides, the specialness of the holiday wears off real fast after your sugar rush subsides and the coma sets in. And, of course, when the shame shows up.
In order for me to see my error in perspective, I first had to quit shaming myself for my candy binges. And with shame out of the equation, I was able to shift my thinking.
This internal investigation is one of the tips I have for you, and it’s the very one that helped me finally stop my Halloween candy binges.
Here’s more on that one, plus three more that can help.
4 Tips to Prevent Binge Eating Halloween Candy
Make a substitution. I like to buy dark chocolate with at least 72% cacao and keep it handy when the crappy candy comes out. It’s really hard to binge on because of the intense flavor it has, and it’s infinitely more satisfying. Sometimes I buy vegan chocolate, and it really is delicious (I swear)!
Pick your favorite kind of candy (mine’s chocolate), and make your own substitution. If you like sugary candy like Nerds or SweeTarts, try buying the sugar-free kind. If you like heavier treats like Reese’s or Snickers, try making your own healthier bars.
Portion it out. Choose your favorites and take however many you feel comfortable consuming at one sitting. Put it all in a small bowl so that it fills to the rim — it feels like you’re getting more than you really are.
You’ll eat more slowly since your supply is limited. And by not sitting in front of a family-sized bag of candy, you will naturally eat less (obviously). Make it a mini-event that you enjoy, not lose control at.
Bonus: Set aside the candy for a specific time. You’ll feel confident knowing you’re deliberately exercising self-control, which will make it easier the next time you’re face-to-face with a bag of Skittles.
Put it away. This one’s no fun, but it works. Put the candy out of sight and leave it there until you feel like you can make a conscious choice to eat it mindfully.
Studies emphatically show that increasing the number of physical barriers between you and foods you’re tempted by makes it far less likely you’ll eat them. And the more barriers, the better your chances of success.
Put the candy in baggies, inside of plastic containers, in a cabinet, on a high shelf. You’re guaranteed not to succumb to a random binge — or you’ll at least give yourself time to consciously make a decision whether or not to do it.
Go ahead and binge. This is the strategy I used, for the sole purpose of gathering intel. Instead of shaming myself every time I binged, I consciously binged and paid attention while I did so that I could figure out what was prompting me to do it.
And that’s exactly how I figured out that I was viewing holidays the wrong way: as an excuse to completely lose control. Once I saw the absurdity of this thinking, that this particular Halloween wasn’t the last time I would ever see a plastic pumpkin full of Twix, it was easy to tame my impulse to go all out.
This year, allow yourself a mini-binge. Think about what was happening before you lit into that bag of M&Ms. (This is especially true for all the moms out there, who have enough stress in their lives without also having to figure out what costumes their kids are going to wear.) Notice how you feel while you’re bingeing. And make note of how you feel afterward.
Use all of this great information for ammunition to prevent future binges — and no shaming allowed!
You’re in Control
The worst part about bingeing on a holiday is that the next one is just around the corner. There isn’t enough time in between the festivities to recover from one binge before you’re back into another.
This is all part of the binge/restrict dieting mindset where you feel out of control and then need a diet to fix it for you.
You are most definitely not out of control, and understanding that you are, in fact, in total control is the critical first step in changing your body — or anything else in your life, for that matter.
Knowing that you’re in control keeps the binge beast from rising up and obliterating your decision-making capacity when the Halloween candy comes out.
And honestly, aren’t we all too powerful to let something like a bag of candy (or a plate of cookies or a covered dish) dominate our lives and wreck our health?
Use these tips to show yourself that you’re in control this Halloween — and every other time of year, too.