Melanie Rudnick: Wed, Oct 22nd 2014
It's that time of year again! There is candy everywhere…in bowls in doctors' offices, on huge displays in stores, on my kitchen counter staring at me as it sits patiently waiting for trick-or-treaters. It's the perfect time for excuses.
Many people will use Halloween as a reason to "be bad." Next thing you know, it's Thanksgiving, then Christmas time, and then it's back to your annual New Year's resolution to "be good" again. You may be wondering how I know this about you. No need to call the police and report a stalker just yet. The truth is, you are not alone. This is a pattern for many. Just because it's a holiday, anniversary, vacation, etc., does not mean it should be a complete free for all. It's an excuse…an excuse to sabotage yourself and create reasons to think you can't lose weight or feel good about your body/self.
I regularly hear that there are too many temptations around, but the reality is if nothing is off limits, then nothing is a temptation. The real issue is what happens to us mentally when we start labeling food "good", and "bad". It almost always leads to deprivation and then overindulgence, and a loss of ability to eat when you are hungry, and stop when you are full.
As a child, my parents used to let my sister and I eat as much candy as we wanted on Halloween night. The remainder went in a bag, and we were then only allowed one piece on Saturday nights while we watched The Muppet Show (or at least that's how I remember it…mom, dad, correct me if I'm wrong). Anyway, I remember stuffing myself with as much candy as possible until I felt sick, because I knew that after that night, we would rarely be allowed to indulge. Many people, including myself in the past, treat certain foods this way. It's as if they think this is the one and only time in their life that they are allowed to eat these candies, cookies, chips, carbs, etc….picture a bear before hibernating for the winter, devouring everything in sight. If they don't eat until they feel sick or fall into a complete food coma, they may never have the opportunity to eat these foods again. Imagine if every day you thought you could eat these foods, and as much as you wanted. What thoughts and feelings does that bring up for you? I know for many it brings up sheer terror and a fear of completely losing control. The funny thing is though, is that in most cases when you know you can have something, there isn't an urgency to devouring it. Two days ago, I grabbed a Reese's cup from one of the many Halloween candy bowls I passed. I was so excited to eat it when I put it in my bag, but then actually forgot about it. Years ago, I would have eaten it immediately, and then would have probably gone to the store or into my pantry to get more "bad" food, eaten more than I needed, and then would have hated myself for doing so. Well this time, it just sat in my bag until I discovered it today and decided to enjoy it. It was delicious, satisfying, and I didn't think twice about it afterwards.
Sure, if you are trying to lose weight or want to eat healthy there is nothing wrong with that…in fact it's something to be proud and excited about, but maybe try being open to knowing that you can eat that mac and cheese, pizza, or cupcake whenever you want. It is always a choice. If you do decide to eat a piece of candy, eat a piece of candy. It doesn't mean you have to eat the whole Costco-sized bag. To my knowledge Snickers isn't getting discontinued anytime soon…hey, even Twinkies made a comeback after we all thought we would never eat one again!
Being able to indulge without going completely berzerk takes some practice, but I can tell you from my own experience it's a much more peaceful way to live. Wouldn't it be nice if thinking about food did not to bring up so much drama for you? After all, it is just food…what's the big deal anyway? It's just what you make it to mean in your head that creates the drama. It can be another reason to beat yourself up, or it can just be food. It's the substance that fuels our bodies, and some do a better job than others. In large quantities it makes us gain weight, and when eaten in moderation, our weights stay the same. That's it; no excuses needed!