Instead of taking a vow to not have a single piece of Halloween candy this year (let’s be realistic here), I have some strategies to get you through the Halloween season without bingeing on those delicious Reese Peanut butter Cups. It is possible to throughly enjoy candy without binge eating. If you are currently suffering from binge eating disorder or are in recovery, Halloween can be a very triggering time. It can bring up a lot of anxiety and eating disorder thoughts when you are surrounded by candy.
It might feel like you are battling your two selves saying things like,
I swear up and down not to eat a single bite of candy this year! ….Or
It’s totally normal to have Halloween candy to celebrate the holiday, I need to stop being so hard on myself. This is my Eating Disorder talking, not my Healthy Self.
To help you have an enjoyable Halloween I have 3 tips that will help prevent a binge from occurring.
1. Focus on Not Restricting: If you in the trenches of an eating disorder this can take weeks, months or years to work through, which is why working with a professional is so important to your health and wellbeing in recovery. Restriction leads to binge eating, plain and simple. So the fastest way to stop binge eating is to make sure you are having three nourishing, satisfying meals with snacks in between. If you are full and satisfied come Halloween night you are less likely to binge eat on Halloween candy.
2. Be Mindful:When you eat Halloween candy be mindful of how it tastes, eat it slowly and be aware of the conversation in your head as you eat. If you are criticizing yourself while eating it, you’re restricting yourself emotionally (remember we want to stop restricting food on all levels, include emotionally). Eat the candy that you actually want to eat. As simple as it sounds, it helps you to tune into your body. Tune in with your fullness cues as well. Remember to actually taste it (it’s delicious, don’t miss out on that!). Be compassionate and celebratory for allowing yourself to enjoy the candy. Practice self-compassion and go easy on yourself. Halloween can be a tough time when you struggle with binge eating, and acknowledging this helps soften you inner voice.
3. Learn to Ride the Wave: The urge to binge can feel overwhelming and all encompassing. For most people the urge to binge only lasts 20-30 minutes and comes in a wave, with a slow rise to a peak that then starts to dissipate. Understanding the wave helps you learn how to ride it out. Be aware of the urge to binge, accept the urge and let yourself ride it out for 20 minutes. Eventually, it passes. Some of my clients have learned to go in another room in the house when the urge comes up, away from the kitchen. Or taking a hot shower to ride the wave. Have a plan of what you’re going to do when that urge arises.
Most importantly, find a therapist who specializes in eating disorders and can help you overcome binge eating. Recovery takes time and has many ups and downs along the way. There’s a lot to learn about the symptoms you’ve been experiencing and working through the underlying issues, such as anxiety or trauma. You’ll want a professional that you trust in your corner to guide you along the way.
About Danielle Swimm, LCPC: Danielle is a therapist in Annapolis, MD. Her areas of concentration are binge eating disorder, anxiety, and body image improvement for adults and adolescents. She also works with eating disorders and mind-body health. She enjoys helping others improve their relationship with food and their body.