I’ve outgrown my fear, and I want you to as well. It’s no way to live. Between now and Easter there are just too many holidays with too much junk food and we need to know how to navigate these events without self-loathing, regret and guilt.
I’ve never pretended not to like junk food. If you know me, you know I’ve always been a huge fan of dessert. I keep candy in the house a lot of the time. I have a stash of the most excellent dark chocolate bars that I love to savour tiny bite by tiny bite and it drives my husband crazy.
But there’s an another entire category to junk food, and it’s about to invade our homes in the most obnoxious way possible, and it’s called Halloween candy.
Halloween candy comes out in the stores early September now. It’s comes in giant boxes. They sell it almost everywhere. You can’t get away from it. And for many years, that’s all I wanted to do.
I used to dread the oncoming of Halloween. I used to get major anxiety this time of year, because I had no control over buying and eating enormous and unnecessary amounts of those little bites of heaven. I would buy the 100-pack a couple weeks before Halloween and it would be empty before the trick-or-treaters even decided on their costumes. And I would not want to share, no way. I hid them. Or at least the best ones. So I would stay up late to make sure I could binge away after every one else went to bed. And then I couldn’t stop, and I’d eat so many, stay up so late, and wake up with a wicked sugar hangover. And you know what they say is best cure for a hangover right? So back to the pantry I’d go the next day.
The worst part of this is, I’d spend the whole month – 6 weeks that this would carry on for hating myself. Punishing myself for being so weak, wishing I could stop. Telling myself if I had more self-control, if I really cared about myself, if I really cared about my goals, and if I just wasn’t such an immature fatso that I could just STOP eating it. But that kind of self-talk never leads to positive behaviour. It leads to self-loathing, more punishment, and inevitably, for surviving the day as the disgusting human I was, a reward, of more candy.
Now I said used to. This is no longer a behaviour I partake in. I have learned healthier ways to deal with my cravings, and more importantly, healthier ways to deal with myself, ie love and compassion. It’s October 28th and I haven’t bought any candy yet. Because I genuinely haven’t wanted to.
Now the reasons for my ability to walk away from the big red box is not my only accomplishment. I want to be clear. I have grown in terms of self appreciation, my knowledge of nutrition, of the way food affects my mood and behaviour and most of all a desire to live FREE of food guilt. But I’ve also stopped being powerless to the candy aisle, 365 days a year.
I have seen a lot of posts lately about eating all your kids Halloween candy, or digging into the stuff you are supposed to be handing out, and while it’s all in good fun and we can laugh about it, this is the first Halloween I won’t be doing that, and I feel really good about it. I can sail through this coming Monday just like it was any day, except with different outfits and more pictures, because I’m not afraid of Halloween candy anymore. And you shouldn’t be either.
—A lot of you might think this is ridiculous, and stop reading here. And that’s okay. Many won’t make it this far. But for those of you still reading, I have been there. At the bottom of the plastic jack-o-lantern, wondering why I have no self control. And there is hope. I know you get me, and just know that I get you, too, and you don’t have to be afraid anymore. —
So here they are, my Top 5 Tips for Staying Out of the Trick-or-Treaters Candy:
- Don’t Buy It: It took me years to figure this out, that we have a choice whether we pick it up and put it in our cart or not. That just because it’s there in Septmber doesn’t mean we have to buy it. Sure, practicing will power in the home is great, too, but it’s just as impressive to leave it in the store. (Plus, do you really want your kids knowing there’s already candy in the house?? No thank you!)
- When You Do Buy It, Don’t Buy Your Favourite to Give Away: If we’re staring at 45 mini versions of our favourite anything it’s going to be a hell of a time trying not to devour it. There are so many options, we just have to pick something that we’ll be able to resist, or let the kids pick. (I find the latter extremely entertaining, myself.)
- Do Buy Yourself a Treat That You Do Love: Remember that stash of dark chocolate I mentioned earlier? It’s my saving grace. Always knowing that we have a choice of something we actually love to eat makes it so much easier to resist the irresistable. Keeping something we really do want to eat – that won’t make us feel like crap – on the ready, will make saying no a no-brainer.
- Get Enough Sleep: This goes for all and any nutritional decision. Halloween is just another holiday that keeps us moms busy, stressing about decorations, costumes and parties, but getting enough sleep at these times (and all others) is essential. When we’re tired, we tend to head more toward the easy, readily available, pre-packaged food options. Which is totally fine. Unless it’s a giant box of candy. The cycle begins that easily, so watch yourself and make sure you’re the rest you need. (Or as close as possible, I have little ones too, people!!!)
- Eat Well: Do I have to say this? Well we are moms so yes I do. It can be so hard to put our nutrition front and centre, and spend the few extra minutes preparing a salad or something else packed with nutrients, but it’s well worth it in the long run. If we are well fed, and our bodies are well-nourished, two majorly important things happen. 1)Our brain is functioning properly, which means making rational decisions about how much candy to buy/eat becomes simple logic. 2) If our hunger is satisfied, then we won’t need to binge on candy, period.
I have given you my best here mamas, because I have been through hellish years of dreading doing my groceries or opening my pantry for weeks at a time, every year, because I had convinced myself I have no control over Halloween candy.
What it comes down to now is that I don’t want to feel like crap, I don’t want to put that much nutrient-empty food in my body, and I don’t want to eat treats that aren’t my favourite. I am incredibly proud of myself, as strange as that may seem to some, it’s been a long ass journey to get here. To a place where I can even talk about this like an adult and not an over-tired toddler.
And I’ll be honest, there’s a little sense of embarrassment here, too, because I mean, it’s candy, it doesn’t own me or control me. But for a long time, it felt like it did. Since I started coaching, I’ve felt like I had to give this “perfect persona” of someone who doesnt eat treats or slip up… but I do. And the #BetterAfterBaby Community helps me so much with that because I actually feel so normal for making mistakes. Instead of feeling bad about it. So in hopes that I can reach one more mama out there who’s in the thick of the trick-or-treat struggle, I share my victory story. Victory over late nights surrounded by tiny little wrappers and big loud voices in my head telling me I was weak, fat and worthless.
Don’t let food control you either mamas. Any kind, any time. It’s just food.