By: Emily Tolino, ’16, University Health Center, Nutrition Peer Educator
Trick or Treat! It’s that time of year again: the weather is getting colder, the trees are turning colors, and pumpkins are everywhere you turn. Most importantly, it’s almost Halloween!
As a kid, Halloween was always one of my favorite times of the year. My friends and I would begin picking out our costumes months in advance and spent hours carving the perfect jack-o-lanterns. Rumors about which house had the best treats to give away on Halloween night traveled quickly around the neighborhood. At the end of the night, I would spread my assortment of candy across the floor and feast, satisfied by the adventure I had just had.
While we may not be out going door-to-door anymore, as we grow older, Halloween can become a time full of anxiety and guilt surrounding those sought-after treats.
During a time full of baked goods at office parties and the onset of the holiday season, many people become more and more anxious about the food they eat. In a world filled with negative attitudes about food, it can be hard to enjoy a holiday full of treats.
This Halloween, let’s do something new. Let’s enjoy Halloween like kids again!
Here are 3 tips to putting the fun back in this holiday:
- Leave guilt at the door. Give yourself permission to enjoy all your favorite parts of Halloween: yes, even the candy! Instead of branding treats as “bad,” acknowledge foods as sources of fuel and enjoyment for your body and mind. This Halloween season, allow yourself to have your treats and eat them too!
- Practice intuitive eating. “Intuitive eating” is the method of approaching food that involves listening to your body’s hunger and full signals. Eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re comfortably full and don’t assign “good or bad” labels to food. It’s as easy as that! Don’t feel as though you need to deny yourself the pleasure of your Halloween favorites – in a healthy diet, nothing is off limits when it’s enjoyed intuitively.
- Savor every bite. Halloween candy tastes a lot better when it’s savored and enjoyed rather than scarfed down in a rush. This Halloween, take the time to fully enjoy your treats. Eat slowly and without too much distraction. Eating mindfully also allows your brain to catch up with your eyes allowing you to recognize when your body is satisfied.
This year, don’t let anxiety and uneasiness about sweets stop you from enjoying the holiday. It is important to remember that all foods can fit into a healthy lifestyle.
It’s safe to say that deprivation doesn’t work.
I know that when I actively deprive myself of a certain food, I only want to eat more and more of it. This reaction can cause unhappiness and overeating later on.
When it comes to a healthy diet, here are some important principles to remember:
- Variety. Variety is the spice of life! Eat foods of all different colors and from all different food groups. Varying your intake will lead to an increase in different types of nutrients.
- Balance. Think of your body as a scale. Without balance, the scale tips over to one side. Your body works the same way. Eating a balanced diet will keep you feeling in tip-top shape.
- Moderation. Some foods give your body the necessary fuel and nutrients it needs to thrive. Other foods are eaten purely for fun. While balance tells us that every food has a place in our diet, moderation tells us to keep anything from being in excess in our bodies.
Keeping these principles in mind will help you to relax and enjoy everything about October 31st from costumes to candy!
Whether your Halloween night will consist of a scary movie marathon with your friends or dressing up for a night out, remember to take these nutrition principles along with you.
Keep the fun in Halloween and rid yourself of guilt and anxiety.
This year, when the choice is Trick or Treat, pick the treat!
You can learn more about intuitive eating, the principles of variety, balance, and moderation, or general nutrition this holiday season by reserving your free Diet Analysis session at the University Health Center. To learn more about this service, you e-mail email@example.com or call 301-314-5664.