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Halloween Eating Doesn’t Need to Be Scary

I remember when I used to fear Halloween—not because of spooky ghosts and goblins, but because of what I thought of as the terrifying temptation of candy. This fear began in adolescence and continued until I was well into my journey to “normal” eating. Here are some new findings on eating candy, which may help you be less afraid this Halloween.

A PSYCHOLOGY TODAY article entitled, The science of willpower: secrets for self-control without suffering, by Kelly McGonigal has some interesting thoughts on eating sweets although I don’t subscribe to the concept of willpower. “People who regularly eat candy live longer than those who don't. A multi-decade study from the Harvard School of Public Health showed that modest candy consumption is associated with the greatest benefit, but even those with a daily habit lived longer than those who never indulged. This benefit could not be explained by other factors such as age, smoking, exercise, alcohol consumption, or weight.” I could not locate the actual Harvard School of Public Health study (if anyone can, please email me the link at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), but this finding, cited in PARADE MAGAZINE (Women’s Health Quiz, 10/16/11) explains the longevity finding as follows: …”those who eat sweet treats a few times a month live longer than those who just say no to sugar. Researchers believe that people who indulge every now and then may be less likely to binge.”

That’s why it’s important to throw out the diet mentality and all-or-nothing thinking about food. If you forbid yourself sweets or eat them with guilt and shame, when Halloween comes around, you may become anxious about overindulging (you know, the way you did last year and the year before) or end up fighting against eating them, ruining your fun. Plus, this anxiety doesn’t just crop up the day of Halloween. Your candy-versus-no candy fears might flare up as soon as September rolls into October. By Halloween, you’re dreading/craving whatever candy is around and, whether you eat it or don’t, you’re still not off the hook. Next day at home or work, there you are facing Halloween leftovers and the agony of “resisting” what you believe is temptation.

As a “normal” eater who eats sweets in small amounts when you feel like it, Halloween candy is no big whoop. You might not even like candy corn or the usual Halloween fare. As a “normal” eater, you’ll pick through whatever is around at home or at work and choose only what you love best. And when you eat it, you won’t feel guilty or badly and will savor every mouthful by eating slowly and letting the sweetness bring joy to your taste buds. This Halloween, dress up as a “normal” eater and see how you do!

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