Do your thoughts talk you into eating too much candy quicker than you can say the word boo? Faster than you can open up a candy wrapper? Even when you have the best intentions of cutting down on sweets, you may find yourself mindlessly indulging on candy bars and candy corn this week. Why do we do this when we don't really want a sugar buzz? Sometimes your mind may be the root of the problem. Let's take a few moments to identify some of the most common Halloween thought sabotagers and how to address them.
At the end of the day, improving your eating often starts with changing the way you think. Thoughts lead to action. Why? We respond to thoughts automatically (or on autopilot) without even really pausing to investigate them closer.
Here are a few tricky Halloween thoughts:
1) But kids will be disappointed if I don't give them candy.
This notion is a common myth. Research shows that kids are just as happy to receive pencils, erasers, stickers, etc. Also, kids are savvier than you think. Many are wise to the fact that they can't (and shouldn't!) eat the whole bag. Be mindful of your relationship to candy. If candy is just too hard to have around this time of year, skip it all together and by non-food treats. For those that must buy candy, avoid purchasing super-sized bags. Or, wait until Halloween to buy candy. Stick to bite-sized treats.
The Thought Antidote: Say to yourself: It's about celebrating Halloween, not celebrating candy!
2) I'll have just one piece of candy!
This is an unrealistic statement that often results in the "I blew it" effect. If you eat a second piece you may think, "What-the-heck-I-blew-it-anyway." This is what psychologists call, "all-or-nothing" thinking. Avoid all-or-nothing thinking by being more flexible and realistic. Sort carefully through the candy. Place into piles 1) love it 2) like it 3) not interested. Notice which pile is the biggest? Reframe your thoughts to mindfully choose the pieces you truly love instead of eating on autopilot.
The Thought Antidote: I can mindfully eat a few of my very favorites.
3) I can't resist!
It's tough having so much candy hanging around! Place candy out of sight in the back of the cupboard or in a drawer. This will significantly cut down on the mindless grazing or picking at it. This is the, "I see it, therefore I want it" effect and the, "I want it just because it's there." If you really crave it, you will go hunt for it. Otherwise, keeping it tucked away can help. Also, buy one kind of candy. The more varieties you have increases the likelihood that you will "try out" each kind.
The Thought Antidote: I don't need to resist eating candy. I need to resist eating candy on autopilot.
4) But, it is Halloween. It only comes once a year!
Remind yourself that it is "okay" to enjoy chocolate. The trick is to do so mindfully, whether it is Halloween or not. Yes! It is possible. Keep your mind on this piece of candy instead of jumping onto the next one. Notice whether your mind tells you, "The next piece of candy will make me happy." Savor this one. Eat it slowly. For more instructions read How to Eat Chocolate Mindfully.
The Thought Antidote: Halloween comes once a year, but candy is around all year long. This isn't my last chance.
When changing your thoughts, the overall goal is to:
1) Notice the excuses/thoughts as they pop up into your mind. Sometimes these thoughts play like background music. You hear them but aren't really listening.
2) Remember that just because you have the thought doesn't mean you have to obey it.
3) Shift out of autopilot. Create a gap between having the thought and acting on it.
If you want to learn more about how to change your thinking, see my new book, But I Deserve this Chocolate!
Note: Holiday Excuses -- See Dr. Albers on Good Day Cleveland (Channel Fox8) on 11/22/11. She will be interviewed on how to cope with the five most common excuses that talk you into overeat during the holidays. Do you want her on your TV show? Email her publicist at Earlita@newharbinger.com
Feel free to add your own. If you twitter Dr. Albers @eatingmindfully with your own tricky Halloween thoughts she may tweet some words of wisdom for you.
See Dr. Susan Albers' new book, But I Deserve This Chocolate: the 50 Most Common Diet-Derailing Excuses and How to Outwit Them. She is a psychologist for the Cleveland Clinic and author of five books on mindful eating including 50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food and Eating Mindfully. Her books have been noted in O, the Oprah magazine, Shape, Prevention, Health etc. and seen on the Dr. Oz TV show. www.eatingmindfully.com