I would get so excited about trick-or-treating. Yes, I was that kid, the impatient one nagging my sister and our friends to “Come on! Hurry up!” as I ran ahead of all of them to quickly get to the next house. After all, wasn’t the object of this night to accumulate as much candy as possible?
The best part of Halloween was getting home and dumping out the contents of the pillow case to organize and admire my candy. There wasn’t much trading going on as we all had the same favorites (Snickers, Milky Way, Butterfingers, Peanut Butter Cups, Rolo, basically anything with chocolate except the ones that had coconut). Least favorites were lollipops and Smarties– pretty much anything non-chocolate.
Chocolate in my mouth!
Some things never change.
Confession: I wasn’t sure until I found the photos to prove it… but I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that I trick-or-treated until I was 15:
If I were shorter and could have gotten away with it, there’s no doubt that I would have kept going for a few more years.
Categorizing the candy was almost as enjoyable as eating it.
How interesting that I don’t remember any feelings of guilt or “this is so fattening” as we savored our candy. The notion of calories, grams of sugar or what the ingredient list contained simply didn’t exist in our young minds. Nutrition and health weren’t topics we thought about; all we knew was that candy tasted good! While that ignorance may have felt like bliss, now that I’m older I can’t ignore the fact that what we eat IS something to think about.
That’s what makes eating such a challenge– we are conflicted by a desire to be healthy and a desire to eat what tastes really good to us. As adults we know that it’s not in our best interest to eat too much candy, but we all still have that inner child inside asking for it.
Seeing ourselves with various inner personas can be helpful in understanding our behaviors. Your inner child craves the Halloween candy. Instead of trying to fight it, hate it, tell it that it’s weak and has no willpower, or completely forbid it– try being the rational, compassionate parent. Allow it, but limit it. No self-hatred or guilt attached. As the adult, you know what you need to do to care for yourself.
Know what your goals are and what is important to you. Have a clear picture of the person you want to be. Make your decisions from there. You have choices. You are in control of your actions. I would never suggest candy be a major part of anyone’s diet… but there is something about giving yourself access to and permission to eat the things you really love that makes them hold less power over you. Plus, there are certain foods that may not be nutritional powerhouses but that do make you feel really happy– and there is a lot to be said for happiness!
Forget about analyzing which types of candy have the least sugar, fat or calories. Instead let’s be real: none of it classifies as a health food. All Halloween candy falls into the food group called “you really don’t want to eat a lot of it.”
You can buy these at Whole Foods. They are so delicious and I love their mini size for when you just want 2 bites of something sweet and chocolaty.
The ingredients are slightly better than most other candy so these are a higher quality choice. But again, candy like this, even organic and using fair-trade chocolate– still not a health food.
My advice when someone asks “Which kind of candy is best?” is this: YOU know what is best for you better than I do. When it comes to having a treat, you are better off looking at the choices and taking a moment to decide what would be the most enjoyable and satisfying to you. We’ve all been in the scenario where we choose what we think we should be eating only to keep wanting what we really wanted in the first place. If you eat an apple when you really want chocolate, how did you feel? Let me guess– you’re still obsessing over the chocolate. The point of having a treat is pure pleasure– so know yourself and know what that means to you.
Guess what? That could also mean choosing to skip the Halloween candy. Have you considered the possibility that you might actually feel better passing on the sugar? If you know you’ll feel awful after eating a certain food, choosing to not eat it rather than giving in can give you a sense of self-empowerment, confidence and gratification because you’re caring for yourself. These feelings can be more rewarding and longer lasting than the taste of sugar. When you’re opting out because you want to instead of telling yourself you can’t have it, it changes the entire psychology of the situation in your head.
Also, it’s the dose that makes the poison. One peanut butter cup? Not likely a problem. Eating half the bag of peanut butter cups? Then something’s going on. If you feel that you don’t have control around candy, that’s a symptom indicating something deeper. It’s worth exploring– any unwanted eating behavior has an important message behind it.
Here is one more confession: I always have a variety of chocolates in my house. And most days I eat some. Some days I don’t eat any. Occasionally there are days when I eat what others might consider “a lot”. I don’t believing in denying yourself foods that you love and that make you feel good. I also believe that when your overall diet is based on wholesome, nutritious foods that there is room for fun treats….only with no guilt involved. Kind of like back when you were a kid. Yes, you can be working towards your health goals and enjoying your life at the same time. When you’re truly committed to practicing self-care, you naturally gravitate towards a balance. Be kind to your inner child this Halloween!