Sparklers, the time has arrived. We are stepping into the holiday zone where ~all the treats~ are available and in your face ~all the time~. Depending on where you live, Halloween may be the seasonal bridge that transitions us from warm, pleasant weather; wearing less clothes and moving your body outdoors, into the hibernation station of cold temperatures, slow moving, and hearty meals. For me, Halloween is a time of fun, play, and lots of sparkle, but if I am not careful, I easily find myself waking up mid-November in a deliriously bloated state, wondering what the hell happened. And then, upon looking at the calendar, I throw all my healthiest habits to the wind because Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Sound familiar?
My inner food addict ADORES the holiday season.
This year I am making the decision to enjoy the hell out of Halloween. I am dressing up in a badass costume (Daenerys Targaryen, Mother of Dragons from Game of Thrones). I am visiting my family and best friends back home. When I deem it to be worth it, I am going to savor and appreciate local treats, Halloween candy, and cocktails. I am not going to deprive myself, but I am also not going to drop anchor in the excuse that it is one of my favorite holidays. It may be one of the best times of celebration, but feeling like crap after a sugar-laden bender is not something I enjoy.
My food freedom involves recognizing when it is really worth it to eat something I don’t normally include in my every day (like Halloween candy) versus when the voice of my inner food addict is telling me stories to trigger my vice. This year, in preparation of this holiday, I acknowledge in advance that candy is everywhere I turn. There is peer pressure involved in all holidays, and this open access to triggering foods can really set off my anxiety. Halloween has the reputation of providing a free pass in eating all the candy and drinking all the drinks, which for me, sets me up to feel like I am not in control. We all know that once you have enough drinks, it is a LOT easier to eat more candy. My disordered eating history is centered on feeling in control, so the more I can be aware of this, the better suited I am to strategize about mindfully experiencing this holiday. Finding a comfortable middle ground and avoiding extreme restriction or a full-blown binge is where I sparkle. This is where my food freedom thrives.
It is important to remember that making the case for candy and nostalgia no longer applies, as candy these days is filled with chemicals and garbage, not just simple sugars. The candy of my youth probably doesn’t even taste the way it did when I was young and sparkly picking through my pillowcase filled with treasure. (Did you not collect your candy with a pillowcase?!)
As Melissa Hartwig of Whole30 reminds me: I am an adult; I can buy candy whenever I want. If I choose to have candy this weekend, which I will, I will be selective, mindful, and aware of what I truly want. When I eat it, my plan is to get romantic with it, savoring it with every sense.
In honor of Halloween weekend upon us, I find it helpful to write and reflect about the holiday in advance, as a way to remind myself of the pleasures, triggers, and survival tips that help me most. Here is a few reflection prompts for your Halloween survival:
- What is my absolutely favorite candy? When, where, and how can I enjoy it the most?
- Which costume has been my all time favorite in my entire Halloween history? How did I feel when I was wearing it?
- What candy triggers me to want to eat ~all the things~? Do I ever feel good when I eat this candy?
- How do I want to feel when I am putting on my costume/handing out candy/going to a party?
- How do I want to feel when I get home?
- What meals/foods would support my food freedom, my satisfaction, and my wellness on Halloween?
For me, being aware that I need to hydrate, eat a solid, healthy fat filled meal in advance, and avoid certain candy (I see you Sour Patch Kids) is a part of my balanced approach to this holiday. I will eat things that are not my standard fare, but I won’t beat myself up about it. Torturing myself by restricting completely over Halloween or beating myself up for eating something is no longer a part of my plan to sparkle. Using Halloween as an excuse to close out 2017 on a food binge bender is no longer an option, either. I am worthy of feeling my best and of enjoying mindful celebration. This holiday is about magic, play, whimsy, and sparkle! I plan to enjoy every minute of it and I hope you do, too!
Halloween is just the first step into the holiday zone… there is much more to come on surviving and sparkling through the end of 2017!