It's not about eating the candy, it's about what you believe about eating the candy.
(Trick or Treat!! If you want to skip the reading and check out this FREE video training series by my friend and mentor Isabel Foxen Duke, she covers many of the same concepts I outline below, I just use Halloween candy as the example)
What I love about Halloween is that it makes children out of all of us. We choose to be scared at haunted houses. We play dress up without embarrassment. We go to pumpkin patches and on hayrides. We look forward to our favorite treats and goodies, whether its a pumpkin spice latte or the Tootsie roll pop randomly offered to me at the post office when I bought my Disney villains stamps.
It's just fun. It's a silly, fun holiday with no gifts or meals or travel attached to it.What's not to love, right?
I will tell you what's not to love: guilt and anxiety about Halloween candy.
This will suck the fun right outta any festivity. Whether it is stressing out about what candy to buy (something I don't like so I won't eat it!) or worrying how to get rid of said candy in a systematic fashion so the kids don't notice, the sheer panic that a Reese's peanut butter cup can create is almost funny.
"I'm so bad, I keep eating candy. I have no willpower"
"I'm trying to be good, so I hide the candy from myself or don't buy anything at all. I can't trust myself around yummy foods."
"I am going to have to hit the gym extra hard to work off all the junk I've been eating."
"Remember, a moment on my lips, a lifetime on my hips!"
"My kids are going to become addicted to sugar if they are allowed to eat candy all the time. I know I am addicted to sugar and I don't want it to happen to them."
Does any of that sound familiar? If so, you are not alone.
(For more information about the "candy and kids" deabte, PLEASE check out this link)
But PERHAPS you are exploring Intuitive Eating, Health at Every Size, and the non-diet approach this year?? So MAYBE you aren't saying those things... BRAVO to you!
Instead you decide you are going to just eat ALL the candy you want, without any restriction. Any time you see something you want, you are going to eat it. You are going to "intuitively eat" Halloween candy this year!
Ok... So I will hand it to you, you've got the 'no-restriction' part down... but what about the immensely important MINDSET shift that must go hand in hand with behavior changes?
The first, and most crucial, principle of Intuitive Eating is 'reject the diet mentality'. All the other principles come AFTER for a reason.
(For a list of the 10 principles, click HERE)
What is rejecting diet mentality?
It is giving up the harmful and ineffective tools of guilt, shame, and judgement around food. To stop elevating some foods and demonizing others. To disengage with the idea that our body is 'better' when it is thinner.
To reject the diet mentality is to reject the deeply held false beliefs about food and weight loss. To stop the internal struggle to "finally get it right". To stop using fear as a motivator and guilt as discipline.
I know that this is incredibly hard. It is a long process with many twists and turns, and often we take 2 steps forward and 1 step back. BUT every minute you spend trying you are better off. No effort is wasted.
I will leave you with this self-assessment:
Can you eat a piece of Halloween candy with full permission, no judgement, tuning into your body and it's signals, and experience no guilt or shame afterwards?
That is intuitively eating Halloween candy.
If you aren't there yet please do not give up! Keep practicing, keep learning, keep reading and listening. It is OK to experiment and get frustrated. I often say the road to re-learning how to be an intuitive eater is paved with belly aches :) If you are going to learn how to ride a bike you have to expect to fall. It will happen and it simply means you are trying.
If you made it this far, congratulations!
Isabel Foxen Duke offers great insight into the WHY behind WHAT we eat. Check out her link to hear more about the ideas I introduced here.