• Hannah Stewart, Undergraduate Dietetic Intern

How To Prevent A Halloween Candy Binge


Ever found yourself staring down an empty bag of candy corn after the kids are in bed on Halloween night? Perhaps you've felt a bit sheepish as you remember strictly ordering your kids that they could "only have two" pieces, only to demolish a bag of your favorite candy once the kids are in bed. Maybe it feels like you just "can't keep yourself in check" during the holiday season. Today, we're sharing our tips for preventing binges around the holidays and truly enjoying the foods you look forward to each year.

Take a Look At Your Pantry

If holidays are the only time sugary foods cross your doorstep, you can bet you'll want to eat the whole bag of candy pumpkins when Halloween rolls around. Foods that you view as forbidden will always seem tantalizing. Instead of purging your house of all things sweet for most of the year, try purchasing a few "fun foods" like chocolate, ice cream, etc. If you're struggled with bingeing in the past, try enjoying them on a semi-regular basis with a family member. As you give yourself permission to eat, strive to give yourself mental permission, too. Thoughts like, "this food isn't bad," and "I can have this again later if I want," can help remind you that this food will be available again, so you don't have to polish off all of it of now. When fun foods are a part of your week year-round, you'll be much less likely to binge on holiday foods.

Don't Skimp On Meals And Snacks

Frequently around the holidays, you'll see the tip to "save up calories" for parties, or to "budget" them for special foods like candy. Honestly, this is the worst thing you can do to prevent overeating! Why? Restriction is directly linked to overeating. The part of your brain that regulates your basic human functions, such as heart rate, temperature, digestion, and metabolism can't differentiate between intentional restriction and actual famine. It responds by increasing your drive to seek out food and eat. The more hungry and restricted you feel, the more out of control you'll feel when you're exposed to high calorie foods. Thus, the key to preventing a binge is not "saving up" calories through restriction, but eliminating restrictive patterns altogether. Eating balanced meals and snacks with protein and carbohydrates and honoring hunger will help reduce those strong cravings that come with chronic underfeeding.

Plan To Eat Candy

Some of the biggest binges happen when people tell themselves they won't eat any of the "forbidden food." A slight variation of this is thinking, "I can only have one ______." Whether it be pizza, bananas, or candy corn, the second you place conditions on a food item, you increase your risk of bingeing. Even if you're not hungry, you feel a sense of deprivation that drives you to eat more. What happens when you promise yourself one Reese's cup and then eat two, then three? Since the food is "off limits", guilt begins to set in, and you sneak a fourth, then a fifth, and potentially a full-blown binge. Rather than falling into this cycle, prevent it by avoiding unnecessary promises to yourself about how many pieces of candy you're "allowed" to have. As you give yourself unconditional permission to eat, you'll find yourself feeling satisfied after eating, rather than being drawn in for more.

Your way of relating to food is developed over years and years and, as such, can take a lot of time and intentionality to shift. The above steps are a great place to start with changing how you relate to food but don't write yourself off as a failure if you still find yourself struggling. Show yourself some compassion and recognize that shifting your thoughts and behavior patterns around food will take time but attempts at practicing the above tips are steps in the right direction.

#bingeeating #foodguilt #holidays

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