It’s the most wonderful time of the year...when ghosts and goblins roam the streets and ask the eternal question, “Trick or Treat?” I love Halloween. I love dressing up and getting to pretend I’m someone I’m not. I really think I missed my calling as a drama nerd. If only I could turn back time…
Though Halloween comes with awesome treats, including the candy, for some Halloween can feel like a trick because of the candy. Some people have trouble controlling the amount of candy they eat in one sitting and for those people having Halloween candy in the house can feel like living in a minefield.
To be clear, I’m not demonizing eating candy. I’m sympathizing with those who feel like they lose control around candy AND who do not like that feeling. If you want to eat all your candy in one sitting and you feel good about it, go for it. And if you think you might suffer from binge-eating disorder, you should talk to a qualified professional. But for those who would love to have one piece of candy, but end up having 10, keep reading.
End the shame spiral! You’re not a failure because you want candy. Candy is engineered to be delicious and eating it doesn’t make you a bad person. We live in a diet culture that wants you to believe that if you simply had a little more will power, you’d be able to do everything perfectly and thus you’d be perfect, which means you’d be a size 2. What we know about will-power/decision fatigue* says differently. You’re not a failure, you might just be tired.
Take candy off your naughty list! When you have a mental list of good and bad foods and you tell yourself you can never, ever have any of those bad foods, you start to crave bad foods. You get a rebellious little kick when you eat them, like you’re getting away with something. This can actually make “bad foods” more appealing. If you think about food more neutrally, it won’t feel like a special treat when you eat them — any of them. It’ll just be food.
Out of sight, out of mind! If you have your candy sitting in a bowl in your living room, chances are you’ll reach for it without even noticing. Stash it away in a cupboard, closet, or anywhere else that you won’t see it every second of every day. Then, if you want some, grab a piece or two and put the rest away. If you have to get up and go get it from this inconvenient location, you might just skip another serving.
Get chilly with it! When I was a kid, we used to freeze the tiny Snickers we got trick or treating. They are delicious frozen! As are Charlston Chews and plain chocolate. If you think it might taste good frozen, freeze it. You’ll get the benefit of a chilly treat while also being forced to eat slower because you don’t want to lose a tooth. Plus, slowing down can make you feel more satisfied!
Become a food critic! Freezing your candy can help you slow down naturally, but even if you’re eating the traditional room-temperature fare, you can still slow down and savor it. Pick a few pieces of candy from your out-of-sight place and tap into your inner food critic. Find a quiet spot and unwrap your first piece: What does it look like? What does it smell like? Take a small bite and chew a few times. Hold it in your mouth: What’s the texture like? How does the texture change as you chew? What does it taste like? Is it sweet? Salty? Both? What is it about the look/smell/texture/taste that you like? When you slow down and pay attention to your food, you can really enjoy it and you might not need to eat as much as you think to feel satisfied.
When in doubt, toss it out! Donate it or throw it out! Some dentists will buy back unopened Halloween candy. (Call yours to find out.) Most of these dentists donate the candy to troops overseas. If you can’t find someone to take it off your hands, consider throwing it out. I know, everyone just had a collective heart attack about wasting food. I hear you. I do. But if this candy is causing you distress because you want it but you don’t want it and it’s just really tugging at you like a sexy ex who just won’t go away and you know it won’t work out but you just keep letting them come over at two o’clock on a Saturday even though you know nothing good will come out of it and the Sunday morning depression won’t be worth the mediocre orgasm. Ummmmmm… Anyway, throw out your candy if you really don’t want it. And maybe block your ex’s number.
That’s all of my advice about not overeating your Halloween candy. I hope it was helpful. If you have other strategies, let us know in the comments!
*There is conflicting research about decision fatigue, but according to a summary of the research in a study by Shuyi Wu and Rongjun Yu, “After a long period of cognitive engagement, participants become adverse to the present task and shift their motivations away from inhibiting desires toward gratification…. Some evidence is consistent with this view, showing that fatigue … exaggerates response to food items.
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