It is the end of October.
Halloween is this week.
There are so many ways for me to sabotage myself during October. But today I just want to talk about the challenges surrounding the holiday that kicks off the “Eating Season”—Halloween.
Halloween can be a struggle for many of us. Halloween IS a struggle for many of us. The candy is everywhere! And we buy candy to give out to Trick or Treaters. The good candy. The candy we like. And we expect that we will be able to resist. And then of course, there is the sales on candy after Halloween. We are surrounded by candy….
And it is not like we can really avoid the Halloween candy in stores because they put it everywhere!
Halloween for years was a struggle for me. Before my 5th journey with Weight Watchers, I would buy candy the beginning of October. The candy I liked getting as a kid. The candy I still liked. And the candy I still like. I would buy the biggest bags so that I would have plenty to give the kids that would ring my doorbell in those cute costumes.
And those big bags would be gone the first week of October, shortly after I bought them. I don’t know how. I only had a piece or two…… multiple times until the bag was gone. Then my guilt would make me buy more because I couldn’t let my husband and sons know I had eaten ALL the candy. (of course, they knew, but as long as I was in denial of their knowledge the guilt wasn’t quite as bad.)
And then those next bags were gone before I knew it. Seriously!?! Surely they just didn’t put enough candy in the bags, that was why the candy all disappeared. That was what I told myself, anyway. Justifying my over-eating worked…… because it couldn’t be that I was really gorging myself on candy, that would mean I had a problem with food. And I didn’t. I was in a lot of denial all those years.
But the shame and guilt were only making me eat more. And eat in secret. I became the queen of secret eating over the years. I found ways to open a bag of Halloween candy on the seam that no one else could see. No one knew the bag was open. Therefore no one knew that I was eating all that candy. And if no one knew then I could live in denial.
In 2006 when I joined Weight Watchers for that 5th time, I wanted to lose the weight. I joined in March. Plenty of time to lose some pounds before the eating season would arrive. That first Halloween on my 5th journey, old habits came back. I wasn’t losing weight in October. I couldn’t figure out why. I was counting my points. I was in my allowance. I was tracking. So why wasn’t I losing? Could it be the non-tracked Halloween candy….the bags of Halloween candy I kept eating and replacing so no one would know? And if I didn’t track it, well then it didn’t count. Right? That was my mindset. But it did count. And the scale showed what I was doing.
The next Halloween, October 2007, I was determined to do it differently. Because obviously, what I had done in the past didn’t work for me. My leader had said in one meeting that “If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you always got.” And that stuck with me. Those words came back to me when I was faced with the dreaded Halloween Candy!
So, I did something different.
I did not buy Halloween candy at the beginning of the month. Something different.
When I did buy Halloween Candy in the middle of the month, I bought candy I did not like. Something different.
I put the candy in a cupboard where I kept the holiday dishes, so that I would not see it every time I opened the pantry. Why? Because despite not liking the candy, it was still candy. And it was the beginning of the eating season…. Something different.
And then on Halloween as we handed out the candy, I chewed gum. With gum in my mouth there was no temptation to pop in a piece of candy. Something different.
Doing those different things got me different results. And I lost weight that October.
I am grateful for those Weight Watchers meetings, where I could learn to do something different. I could gain the tools necessary to change my behaviors and my habits.
Now, I would like to tell you that I never went back to old habits at Halloween, but I am human and I am not perfect. There were a couple of Halloweens where I found myself sneaking that candy. And when I did I caught myself and stopped before I ate too many bags. Old habits can still sneak in even after the changes we make. Old habits are my comfort zone and when life gets crazy, stressful, messy…that is when I want my comfort zone.
But there is a difference now. I can stop sooner. I can recover sooner. I have the tools I need in my back pocket to help me overcome the challenges. It is not always pretty. It is not always perfect.
For the past few years my husband and I have made some changes to Halloween. We no longer have kids at home. And where we live in our neighborhood, there are very few trick or treaters. So instead of having the candy in our house and having a ton left over (like we did 5 years ago on our first Halloween here) we go out. We go to dinner and a movie. It works for us. It keeps me from falling back into old habits fueled by a tempting season.
In Weight Watchers meetings we share our strategies for getting through Halloween. Here are just a few of the ones I have learned over the years—
- –Buy candy you don’t like
- –Wait until Halloween or the day before to buy the candy
- –Avoid the Halloween isle in the grocery store
- –chew gum while handing out candy
- –Hide candy after buying it
- –Do not hand out candy while hungry—eat first
- –Don’t go to the store and buy the sale candy the day after Halloween
- –Look up the point values of candy BEFORE Halloween so if you have candy, you know the points. Knowledge is power!
- –donate left over candy (dentists will collect candy)
- –send left over candy to work with a loved one—get it out of the house
What would you add to this list? How do you deal with Halloween? How do you deal with the candy? What do you do differently that works for you?
How are you preparing for Halloween and the kick-off of the “eating season”?