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Tricks for Handling Halloween Treats

Halloween candy seems to be ubiquitous—everywhere we look, it is around us. At the grocery store, pharmacy, or even card store, candy or pictures of candy are everywhere. Now there are even Halloween pop-up stores with many varieties of trick-or-treat baskets, and even more varieties of candy to fill them.

Of course for emotional eaters, and even the vast majority of adults who try to limit their intake of sugar, this can be a festive and fun, but also challenging day. Even the days leading up to Halloween can be difficult as people are often tempted to use the excuse of trick-or-treaters, or an upcoming Halloween party to purchase sweets that they wouldn’t typically indulge in, and then to eat them all before the date actually arrives.

In addition, many people suffer a fair amount of remorse after Halloween when they sneak into their children’s candy bag, or perhaps even the leftover candy that they bought for trick-or-treaters. Many closet eaters, or night eaters find themselves in the awkward and sometimes expensive position of having to return to the store to replace Halloween candy that they ate before, during, or after the holiday that was not their own to eat.

However, Halloween can and should be a fun holiday for children, teens, and adults of all ages. The key to enjoying Halloween is the ability to be honest with oneself and to ask the following questions:

  1. Am I purchasing the candy for myself, that I am telling myself is for others?
  2. Can I “handle” having this candy in my home before, during, and after the holiday?
  3. Am I open to choosing candy or other goodies to offer at Halloween that I will not binge on, and to make the decision of what is “safe food” for me to have for myself and other people?

With all that said, we know that the more some people deprive themselves, the more they binge. If you’re going to feel frustrated and deprived not having any Halloween sweets, choose carefully a treat or two in a contained amount that you can eat, sitting down, slowly, enjoyably, and with self-acceptance, not followed by self-hatred. In this way, you can be part of the holiday celebration, while maintaining a sense of dignity and self-respect.

Managing Fall Anxiety Effectively

People are often nervous about transitions, including the change in seasons. With fall nearly upon us, many of us are thinking about returning to school and work, interviewing or beginning new jobs, or even upcoming business, social, or health-related appointments. While these changes, for the most part, are positive, experiencing so many changes at once can sometimes be stressful. When students go back to college, family dynamics change. Couples who have been busy with parenting obligations suddenly find themselves to be empty nesters. Students who were comforted by home-cooked meals, and sleep-in mornings, find themselves anticipating dorm food and 8 am classes.

If we find anxiety getting in the way of approaching the upcoming changes with positive anticipation, we may want to think about stress management techniques that can be helpful. These may be techniques we have used sporadically in the past, but the impending change of seasons is a good time to make a concerted effort to put these things in place. Often it is helpful to put together a stress prevention Action Plan. Here are some stress-reducing actions that many people find helpful.

  • Meditation

Meditation has been found helpful in terms of relaxation, sleep, and health issues. There are apps such as "Insight Timer," and "Calm," that have seven-, ten-, and twenty-minute mediations. Even if you don't have time to meditate 20 minutes a day and even if you can't do it every day, you can still get benefit from weekly or bi-weekly meditation.

  • Movement

Many studies have shown that exercise is often as effective as some antidepressants. Even if you can't get to the gym, even walking 5 minutes several times a day can make a positive impact on your mood and health. Weight training can feel especially empowering and is easily learned. And even if you can't afford a personal trainer, you can learn from videos or asking the floor manager at the gym. You can even lift weights while doing daily activities like watching TV in the comfort of your own living room.

  • Food preparation

As schedules get busy, it is easy to forget to put aside the time to buy groceries and prepare healthy foods that sustain us physically and emotionally. After a long day at work and school, we often feel too tired to prepare healthy food and may succumb to fast food or other less healthy alternatives. If life is too hectic to get to the grocery store once a week, which is ideal, it can be wise to do a large grocery shopping in person or online once a month. This can be supplemented throughout the week with quick stops for fresh produce and dairy. It is often helpful to prepare meals for a few days on Sundays and again mid-week so that we have healthy alternatives that can be easily reached for and quickly heated up after a long day at work.

With these techniques you should find yourself feeling more positive and hopeful about the upcoming changes. If you find that you are unable or unwilling to execute stress management discussed, it may be useful to seek the aid of a professional counselor to help you move forward.