11/01/2013 10:19 am ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

It's Just Food!

Watching children at Halloween is a great way to study mindful eating. For them, the candy is exciting, but it is only one part of the entire experience. They are just as excited about carving pumpkins, wearing costumes, trick-or-treating, sorting candy, and trading it with their friends and siblings (and mother!). They'll probably eat a bit too much candy on Halloween night. Then for weeks afterward they'll enjoy a few of pieces of candy each day -- but lose interest when their favorites are gone.

How does that compare to the way you approach Halloween -- and all the other holidays that are coming up?
  • Do you focus more on the food than the experience?
  • Do you obsess about the food?
  • Do you tell yourself you're not going to eat any candy, then sneak it out of the bag when the kids are at school or asleep?
  • Do you promise to exercise more to pay penance when you eat it?

Finding a balance between eating for nourishment and enjoyment is tricky this time of year, but it doesn't need to be a test of willpower. Instead of waffling back and forth between staying in control and losing control, take charge of enjoying the food and the experience mindfully. When you are mindful of your body's signals and the big picture, there is no need to turn food into your enemy or the prize. It's just food.