Ending Emotional Eating: Leftover Halloween candy

I just saw a video from Jimmy Kimmel of an annual prank where he encourages parents to video themselves telling their kids that they ate all of the kids Halloween candy. I must admit it was funny to see the kids have such expressive (sad, mad) reactions. It also made me think of the torment some of us experience after the kids go Trick or Treating and now we are faced with lots of candy in the house or left over candy bought to give out to the kids. This situation can be really difficult for anyone with emotional eating issues. Just having the candy in the house can lead to overeating, obsessive thoughts (“do I eat it or don’t I”) and wondering how we can hide that we ate the candy.

Emotional eating means we eat to help ourselves deal with emotions, and some emotions can revolve around the fear of having candy in the house. We can become sneaky and shame ridden when we do eat someone else’s Halloween candy or eat more than we think we should. When I was a child, I remember taking some of my brothers Halloween candy. He would ask who took it and I did not tell the truth. He then started to count the candy and then I could not keep taking it without being caught. I felt ashamed that I engaged in that kind of behavior and did not tell the truth about it.

I consider Halloween as the start of the holiday season, which can be very challenging for emotional eaters. Sugar can often be the go to choice when emotions arise. Now we are done with Halloween, but not with the candy. There is a full bowl of it in my house and it is now not a concern for me. If you struggle with this like I have (read more on my Halloween story here), let me give you some tips to get through it.

  1. I like to tell myself, “It is not mine to take or eat.” That thought keeps me out of my child’s candy. Think up a statement that you will tell yourself which can help redirect you or use mine.
  2. Do you really need that much candy in the house? Local dentists collect (and sometimes pay for) candy which they send to the troops. Engage your child (if it is their candy) in the idea we have plenty and we can share or make it a rule that we only keep a certain amount and the rest we give away. It is nice to give others a sweet treat.
  3. Ask yourself why you really want the candy. Sounds simple, but some moments of questioning ourselves, our feelings, and our desire to have the candy can help use become more mindful of our decisions.

These tips can be very effective in the short term process of managing the thoughts and behaviors around sweets. Since this is the start of the holiday season, really consider a plan of action for yourself for the next 2 months. Developing an understanding of your emotional eating and a plan of action is a great way to start the holidays. It is possible to have an enjoyable holiday without the struggle over food.

Have some tips about how you handle leftover Halloween candy? Let us know in the comments below.

Kim McLaughlin, MA is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who specializes in helping people with eating issues and eating disorders.  If you are concerned that about overeating, weight or your use of food in general please contact her here. Sign up for her FREE Top Tips to End Emotional Eating here. Check out her website at www.FeedYourSoulTherapy.com.

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