Salem, Massachusetts, Halloween is a month-long event.
Just a few
days into October, my daughter had already collected a gallon-sized Ziploc bag
filled with Halloween candy. There are Halloween parades and parties, downtown
events, and of course, the big night of trick or treating on October 31. It’s a big deal around here!
alone in having a house full of fun size candy bars. Many of you are also in
the swing of the season already. So, what to do? Halloween is pretty easy to
handle during a round of Whole30. It’s cut and dry, black and white – no candy!
But what happens
when you’re in your life AFTER Whole30, navigating your personal Food Freedom?
Is candy worth it? One piece? Five pieces? How do you decide?
run through the “worth it” questions outlined in Food
Freedom Forever, I wanted to share some thoughts from members of our
Facebook group. We asked them how THEY deal with Halloween candy overload – and
how they stay focused on eating mindfully (not perfectly!) during this
- One local Salem friend in the group says: “I’d tell people — Do not ask
yourself if you ‘deserve’ the candy. It’s a loaded question and one’s value
certainly outweighs a piece of candy. It’s more: ‘Am I willing to deal with the
consequences of this?’ It’s never just whatever calories, it’s usually
disappointment in oneself for not having control, it’s a renewed sugar dragon,
it’s a slippery slope. I have had the single piece of candy and only when I
felt I just want one, and that was all. I look at my kids already partially
filled baskets and have no interest. If I didn’t do a September round of
Whole30, I’m sure I’d be dipping in. I may get tired and think if I have candy
it will perk me up! But I get two times the crash. I don’t have time for the crash. So, for me the headache, is it worth the one minute of tasty candy?
Never! I’d rather wait and have another homemade fall treat like cooked
apples with cinnamon. It feels decadent and doesn’t give me a hangover. Fall
flavors like pumpkin, spices and apple have many healthy and less processed
ways to be enjoyed.
group member who’s enjoying her Food Freedom says she reminds herself that a craving
lasts roughly 3-5 minutes. “If I feel like I really want a piece of candy (not
just Halloween), I set the piece of candy on the counter and “busy” myself.
Usually, when I get back to the counter, I’m like…nah. If I do still want it, I get myself a glass of ice water. I take my
piece of candy and sit in my favorite seat. I take joy in unwrapping said piece
of candy. I take small, savory bites and enjoy!
mindful is also the name of the game for another member, who has constant
reminders of candy due to her job in a school. She says: “I work at a school,
and right now (until the end of December, really) there are all kinds of candy
and goodies around that people bring to share. One of the things I have learned
about myself: If it is store-bought, it
is never worth it (because it just doesn’t taste that great), so skipping those
is never an issue. But Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are my dragon…I always
ask myself this question: Do I really WANT this right now, or am I just looking
for a sugar fix? Many times, the sight of the candy has me just looking for a
fix. Those are the times I MOSTLY mindfully walk by and do not indulge. Every once in a while, I really do WANT
one, and I allow myself to eat it (slowly, so I can enjoy it) and then I am
done. I do not think about it, I do not worry about it. The simple question
makes me stop and think…and that is when I make better and more mindful
another group member, her desire for Halloween candy has to be balanced with
her willingness to deal with a consequence. She says: “Sugar wakes up my eczema
in a big way. One piece of candy and my knuckles and ankles flare up first.
Lucky for me, Halloween is the tail end of apple season here in Vermont. I have convinced myself I’d much rather
bite into a crisp, tart Macintosh than have a painful flare-up. I also have
a late October birthday and anniversary and instead of the traditional cake and
ice cream, we usually serve baked apples with cinnamon or forgo a treat all
together. Just don’t feel like I need it anymore.”
group member says it’s easier for her to keep the candy visible to remind
herself that it’s always there if she wants it. She says: “For me, I keep the
candy in plain sight. Weird, I know but if I see it and know it’s always there
than I don’t feel like I’m depriving myself. I always have dark chocolate on my desk at work and knowing it’s right
there and I can it anytime makes it easier to just have one on those days that
I really want one. Plus, I get instant heartburn so I really ask myself IS
IT WORTH the physical pain. Some days it is, some days it isn’t.”
a similar note, another member says she doesn’t deprive herself of candy, but
rather enjoys it with some self-imposed rules. She adds: “For the few candies
that I have decided are worth it, I treat them like a dessert after a meal. If
they are mini/fun sized, I will allow myself up to four pieces once a day, or
one piece if it’s full sized. I only let myself have then AFTER a full meal to
help prevent overdoing it. I also eat
them very, very slowly. That way, I can truly savor it. I rarely make it
through what my allotted amount is when I do it this way.”
me, I love the list of “worth it” questions that Melissa shares in Food Freedom
definitely recommend this book if you don’t yet have it – it is SO helpful for
navigating life after Whole30!) She reminds us that “a treat isn’t really a
treat if it’s going to mess you up.” Here are the questions she encourages you
to consider as you determine if something is “worth it.” (And yes – this seems
like A LOT of work at first but trust me that it gets easier over time and with
it promote cravings or make my Sugar Dragon roar?
it make me feel lethargic or put me on an energy roller coaster?
it disrupt my sleep?
it mess up my digestion or leave me with gas or bloating?
it negatively impact my mood, attention span, focus, or motivation?
it make my symptoms (pain, swelling, fatigue) flare up?
it trigger an adverse reaction (asthma, migraines, skin breakouts)?
the be-all-end-all question: “Will this mess me up?”
reminds us that Food Freedom is “the perfect balance of healthy and
less-healthy-but-worth-it foods eaten in a way that is totally sustainable and
keeps you feeling amazing.”
a lot to consider when eye-to-eye with a Fun Size Milky Way. But, at the end of
the day, it’s all to help YOU feel empowered over the overload of candy. You
call the shots. You make the decisions. Just because the candy is there in
front of you doesn’t mean you have to eat it. You can decide how much you want
and when you want it.
beauty of Food Freedom is realizing that food isn’t go anywhere and that just
because it’s Halloween, doesn’t mean you HAVE to have all of the candy. Maybe
you decide that some of it’s worth it, or maybe you decide that none of it’s
worth it. But, maybe on a random Wednesday in December, the candy is worth it.
That’s fine. Because as Melissa says, you are an adult, you have a car, and you
have money – so you can buy M&M’s any day you want!
you decide to handle Halloween candy, I hope you feel peace. And if you don’t –
don’t beat yourself up and consider it a lesson in Food Freedom. If you had
some consequences from what you ate, jot them down so you can remember them for
next time. This is a journey – and it takes a long time to figure it all out
leave you with Melissa’s description of the Food Freedom process, which I love
– and return to often in my own journey.
it’s not worth it, simply pass. You don’t feel deprived, because the decision
was yours…If it is worth it, you accept. You savor. You enjoy it so hard. You
eat as much as you need to satisfy the experience…Whatever you decide, no
matter how much you eat, you remain in control, because you’re paying attention
the entire time. Your second bite only comes after you decide you really want
more; your seventh bite is just as savored as the first. When you’ve had
enough, you lick your fingers, sigh contentedly, and go right back to your
regularly scheduled dietary choices. You successfully deal with any
consequences of your choice. You don’t beat yourself up. There is no guilt…At
some point, something will send you back toward the Land of Old Habits. You
find you don’t feel as awesome and you’re no longer totally in control. But.
You don’t panic. You don’t feel like a failure. You don’t wallow in your ice
cream. You just return to your reset, already feeling better having taken the
first step back towards food freedom.”