Intuitive Eating at Halloween
Halloween is a scary time (pardon the pun) for people struggling with food. There’s so much food about, especially the pies and the sweets. For so many years as a dieter I have told myself that I have to ‘stay away from the sweets’ that are in the bowl by the front door ready for the trick or treaters. Those food police were in full force, telling me to resist the temptation.
For the majority of the time in Intuitive Eating we try to pay attention to our hunger and fullness signals, to eat before we get to hungry and stop before we are uncomfortably full. The thing is, sweets, chocolate and pumpkin pie don’t really fall into hunger and fullness prompts too easily do they. They’re not food you would necessarily go to in order to satisfy hunger.
halloween food is for enjoying
That’s actually fine. Food is for enjoyment too. What the Intuitive Eating principles also tell us is that it’s really OK to enjoy food, even if you’re not hungry. You go ahead and have sweets if you want them. If you’re full but you really do want a piece of that pie then you fill your boots. There are no rules remember.
Don’t be conning yourself with the replacement foods too – you know, those recipes that diet clubs give you in order to help you cut down the calories. They are never satisfying enough, and they usually end in you going for the treats you really wanted anyway!
no need to restrict in the day
It can be easy to restrict early in the day. Skipping meals so that you ‘have room’ for the food later on, or having smaller meals or just snacks so that you reduce the calories ready for the evening ‘binge’ may seem like a good idea, but it’s actually going to have the opposite effect. All this restriction does is make you want to eat MORE.
That’s right. Remember our good old friend the binge-restrict cycle? Well that’s what comes into play when you cut back earlier in the day. By the time you get to the Halloween treats you’re hungry or feeling deprived, and that makes you eat more when you finally do allow yourself to eat.
The funny thing is that now that I’m not restricting like that, the Halloween goodies aren’t that appealing really. I don’t really enjoy them as much as I thought I did. Some of it doesn’t taste that good. Some of it is too sweet. I don’t actually like the taste of pumpkin.
But I do love a good hot chocolate, with cream and marshmallows. I love a jacket potato and curry by the bonfire. I love warming myself up with food and drink while the trick or treaters go by, or when we’re outside watching fireworks a few days later.
Food and drink is an integral part of our celebrations, and so it should be. It’s there to be enjoyed, guilt free. You can bring Intuitive Eating into Halloween. Try asking yourself if your choice tastes good. You don’t have to be hungry before you can dive into those treats, but you do need to genuinely want it and be enjoying it. If you are, carry on. If not, maybe you should put it down or choose something else. Let’s be clear, this is NOT about restricting or telling yourself off for eating those foods, but more to give you the chance to choose other food that will be more pleasurable instead.
Let’s remember too that these holidays are also not just about the food. There’s so much more to enjoy. The people, the fun and games, the parties, the looks on the children’s faces……. The food really is such a small part in all of this.
This approach to food will help you to enjoy these holidays, not fear them. You can join in, safe in the knowledge that you can have food – as much as you want, of what you want.