I know, the title sounds like a mistake, but actually, the recent newsletter, “Mindful Morsels” from local Psychology of Eating Expert and Mom Since 2001, Karen Schachter, seems especially timely as we’re 7 days away from a big sugar rush! This year, Halloween falls on a Friday, which will probably mean more Trick-or-Treaters and more overflowing bags of junk coming home to tempt Moms!

How to Avoid Overindulgence on Halloween
Excerpted with permission from Mindful Morsels

I hear from people every day who struggle every Halloween with overindulging. Here’s the thing: Halloween candy tends to find its way into the mouths of us adults way past Halloween (you know what I mean: reaching into the candy bowls at work or the kids’ bags late at night), contributing to cravings and overindulging on Thanksgiving and into the holidays, our resultant weight gain or poor health, and our subsequent vows to “lose weight” or “get healthy” on January 1st!

I love having energy. I love feeling fit. I love feeling healthy and strong! (and I hate dieting). And my love affair with this little tiny bit-sized delectable goodie is threatening to cause chaos in my relatively calm existence!!

What’s a person to do? Well, this Halloween, I vow to do something different. I vow to enjoy my passion, but keep it in check, knowing how it wreaks havoc on my body and my mind. Below, I share some of my personal strategies to balance my passionate love for Reeses with my even greater commitment to my health and wellbeing, as well as some tips I will employ with my children to help them deal with their sweet teeth:

1) Acknowledge ahead of time if Halloween may be a time that you tend to go overboard (and talk with your kids about their tendencies as well, empathizing with the dilemma of yumminess vs. crankiness and illness).

2) If you do have a hard time controlling your sugar intake on Halloween, and if you’d like to avoid that this year, make a commitment to yourself ahead of time that you will do something different this year, as a way to care more deeply for yourself, not out of deprivation. (If you don’t commit to yourself, or you only employ these strategies in a half-hearted way, you can bet they won’t work – that’s called self-sabotage!).

3) Ask yourself, in as honest a way as possible, how many of your particular favorite candy (or candies) your body can actually handle. (It’s a good idea to close your eyes, take a deep breath, and really ask your body. This is not how many your mind thinks you want, but how many your body can handle). (For me, it’s 3 minis, spread apart throughout the night, after a really healthy, filling, satisfying meal. Any fewer and I will long for more, and any more and I will not be able to stop). (Children can do this same exercise)

4) Think about something you LOVE that feels really soothing, delicious and fully NOURISHING. For me, around this time of year, it’s usually butternut squash soup, or roasted winter squash, or sweet potatoes with crème fraiche and a little sea salt. Something hot, a bit sweet and so yummy. Eat this and notice how great it makes your body feel.

5) Consider not making candy the central focus of this holiday. Have fun with decorations, costumes, and pumpkins.

6) At the end of the night, sort through. Get rid of the stuff that is purely addictive but not really enjoyable. Toss it (it’s better wasted in the garbage than wasted in your stomach – something my mom always used to say).

7) If you choose to eat your favorite candy enjoy and savor it. Teach your children to do the same. Take small bites and really taste it. Don’t unwrap, shove and swallow instantaneously, or you won’t even notice you’ve eaten it. When we eat slowly and with real pleasure, we are much less likely to overeat. Stay conscious.

8) Do not for a minute feel guilty, no matter how much you end up eating. Guilt does nothing except make you feel badly, which is no good for your health. Instead, tune into your body and recognize how you feel. Use this as an opportunity to gather information about yourself and what works for your body. Continue to notice (rather than judge) what your body really needs to operate at its best, and try to feed it accordingly.

9) The bottom line is, we don’t need to approach this holiday or any with dread, fearing that the food will control us. With planning and awareness, you can enjoy your favorite goodies, while maintaining good health through the season.

Karen Schachter is a psychology of eating expert who helps women, and their families, develop positive relationships to food and their bodies. Ready to feel inspired and nourished?

Editor’s Note: Thanks, Karen! Always love her tips!  No matter what you eat or do, enjoy the holiday with your kids! – Amy