3 Tips to Stop Halloween Candy Binges
Tell me if this sounds like you:
I always end up eating all the Halloween candy in our house. I’m so bad for eating the candy! If it’s in the house, I’m going to eat it. I can’t stop after one piece of candy.
If you feel a bit stressed about the sweets this holiday season, know that you’re not alone. And know that these three tips to stop Halloween candy binges can help you feel more at ease around sweets during the holidays.
Why You Might Be Binge Eating
Let’s start with why you feel like binge eating candy in the first place. While it’s easy to blame lack of willpower for eating what you said you wouldn’t, I’m here to tell you that willpower isn’t the problem. There’s a body of research that indicates restriction is the culprit.
You’re probably blaming lack of willpower, but the real reason you might be binge eating candy is that you’re restricting it.
Enter the habituation principle. The habituation principle states that the more we are exposed to something, the less appealing it becomes.
Think about it…let’s say you were told you could eat french fries and ice cream every night for dinner this week. While this may be exciting on nights one and two, by nights four and five it gets old. Your body starts to crave something else.
One long-term food habituation study revealed that an increased rate of habituation (more exposure) was associated with decreased energy intake (1). The habituation principle illustrates how keeping those foods in the house (increased exposure) may assist in healing your restrictions around that particular food.
The opposite is also true. When we lack exposure to a particular food because we deemed it “off-limits” our brains have a heightened desire for it. This is why backlash or rebound eating occurs when we restrict foods.
The Perfect Storm: Halloween
Halloween is like the perfect storm for binge eating. If all year you tell yourself, “candy is bad, I shouldn’t have candy, I can’t keep it in the house…” then all of a sudden M&Ms, candy corn, and Snickers are stocked on the grocery store shelves…your body and brain will respond with a heightened desire for candy that you can’t stop.
3 Tips to Stop Halloween Candy Binges
To navigate this storm, here are 3 tips to minimize the feeling that you can’t stop eating candy.
1 – Remind yourself that all foods fit.
First and foremost, give yourself permission to enjoy candy. When candy is allowed, we give our bodies a chance to habituate to it. When candy is allowed at ANY time of the year (not just Halloween) it loses its power.
Sure, eating a piece of fruit is more nutritionally dense than eating a piece of candy. But a healthy relationship with food honors eating for reasons beyond nutrition. It honors eating not only for biological needs but also for mental and emotional well-being.
Action: put this tip to practice by allowing yourself to keep candy in the house. At first, you might find yourself eating it more frequently, but this is part of the habitation process. Eventually, keeping that bag of candy in the house is emotionally equivalent to a bag of apples.
2 – Audit your self-talk.
Binge eating is typically fueled by guilt. You eat the first piece of candy, but you can’t move on because of the cascade of negative self-talk. Your inner critic says: I should’ve known better. I always blow my diet. Since I ate one piece, I might as well finish what’s left.
It’s the negative self-talk that fuels eating the third, fourth, and fifth piece of candy.
Stop negative self-talk in its track with helpful affirmation statements. Here are a few examples:
- I am rebuilding trust with my body by not restricting it.
- There is no need to binge eat when I can eat any and all foods whenever I want.
- I give myself unconditional permission to eat.
Action: save a list of positive self-talk affirmations to refer back to during stressful eating experiences. For more affirmations, check out my Top 10 Intuitive Eating Affirmations.
3 – Ask yourself what you really want.
Do you want another piece of candy? If yes, enjoy the candy! Or are you stressed and craving comfort? Are you tired and craving energy? Are you bored and craving excitement? Often, we confuse emotional needs with the desire to eat.
Use this 2 part prompt to determine how you feel and what you need:
What am I feeling at this moment? What are 1-3 ways I can soothe this feeling?
For example, if you are feeling tired you could:
- Eat a piece of candy for quick energy
- Eat a piece of fruit for quick energy
- Take a power nap
- Prioritize an earlier bedtime
- Go for an energizing 15-minute walk outside
Notice that eating a piece of candy is STILL an option. There’s nothing wrong with eating for emotional reasons. But you also give yourself non-food ways of nurturing your emotional needs.
Are you ready to make drop the food guilt once and for all?
I work with clients virtually across the US to help them ditch diet mentality and rediscover the joy of eating using mindfulness and intuitive eating principles. To learn more about my signature coaching programs, schedule your free discovery session today.