This is my favorite time of year. I love the leaves changing color and crunching under my feet when I walk. I love the Halloween costumes and decorations. I love being able to leave the house without sweating. Halloween, like any holiday, poses some unique challenges for me. I’m relatively new to my intuitive eating journey. So, what does Halloween look like through an intuitive eating lens? Let’s take a closer look at intuitive eating and Halloween.
The Food Police: Great Costume Idea, Not So Great in Our Heads
One of the most difficult aspects of intuitive eating, for me anyway, is challenging the food police. Around Halloween, my mental food police are out in full force. Food policing involves those voices in my head that want me to feel bad when I eat candy and virtuous when I “resist temptation.”
I honestly don’t know if the food police will ever leave my head entirely. What I do know, though, is that those voices aren’t worth listening to. If I want candy, I’ll eat candy. If I don’t, I won’t. There’s no morality to those decisions. There’s no right or wrong.
There’s Nothing Wrong With Candy
The other temptation with Halloween is to police other people’s food choices. In particular, the choices little ones make. Halloween is an excellent time to introduce paying attention to hunger and how foods make us feel. It might be tempting to “save our appetites” for a special Halloween treat. What I’ve learned, though, is that sets myself up to be overly hungry. It’s a form of food restriction and of placing a value on food.
So, I eat meals at regular intervals, and I do my best to pay attention to how those foods make me feel. If I want candy, I eat candy. I don’t make myself “clear my plate” before eating candy. If you have little ones, let them enjoy their Halloween candy. Ask them to consider stopping when they feel full, and remind them that they can have more any time. And let them have more.
I wish my parents would have known how to let me make my own choices around food. That wasn’t the mindset of the time, though. They did their best. If you have little ones, help them learn to make their own choices around food, paying attention to hunger and fullness, but without the expectation to do it all perfectly.
The Satisfaction Factor
One of the biggest surprises of my intuitive eating journey is the number of foods I don’t enjoy as much as I thought I did. Some just don’t taste that great to me. Others leave me feeling tired or sluggish. This is the first time I’ll be experiencing Halloween and intuitive eating. I’m curious about what treats will give me a sense of satisfaction, and which ones might not make my list for next Halloween.
One strategy Crystal Karges mentions in her blog is trying some of these “special” foods at other times, considering questions such as “Does it taste good to me?” and “Am I enjoying this?” So it might be time to think about what Halloween treats I’ve put on a pedestal and bring home a few to try. I suspect I’ll discover a new relationship with Halloween treats.
Focus on the Fun
When I was stuck in the diet mentality, everything felt like it was about food. Mostly, it was all about foods I “couldn’t” eat. Since starting intuitive eating, food just doesn’t seem as important to me. For example, when I think of Halloween, I think of fabulous costumes, walking outside, carving pumpkins, haunted houses, and scary movies. The fun part of the holiday isn’t the food. It’s the people, the costumes, the opportunities for community and fun.
That’s a big part of many holidays, really. Food is often less important than community, family, or faith. As I move forward in my intuitive eating journey, holidays are less about food and what I will or won’t eat, and more about the time I get to spend with the people I love.
Find Joy in the Holiday
Diet mentality and weight stigma have robbed me of a lot of joy. I’ve let the fear of what others will think of how I look or what I’m eating dictate my choices. I’ve judged myself harshly for the size of my body, and I’ve let that limit what I do, where I go, and how I live my life.
This Halloween, I want to have fun. I want to go to a costume party or go trick-or-treating with my nieces. I want to see the joy on the faces of trick-or-treaters and drink some apple cider. I’ll keep in mind the principles of intuitive eating and give myself unconditional permission to eat. For once, I’ll let myself have fun, without judgment or shame.
Melinda Sineriz is a freelance writer and fat acceptance advocate. Read more of her thoughts on Twitter or visit her website to learn more.