It never fails, as I’m sure I will hear it just as many times this year as I’ve heard in the past, but when the holidays roll around, it’s like this vibration of the same phrases over and over and over and over again.
The holiday candy is out. The holiday meals are abundant, and everyone starts losing their minds.
I cannot tell you the amount of shame ridden speak I hear thrown around this time of year. So, first things first, we are wayyyyy too hard on ourselves. Second things second, why are we so hyperfocused that this time of celebration is robbed by our unending amount of guilt surrounding the food?
Culture is set up around food. This shifts and turns as we go through the different millennia, but the fact remains that since the beginning of time, there is a lot of emphasis on food within culture. This is naturally going to be what follows during holiday seasons, and it’s meant to be enjoyed.
We have evolved from hunter-gatherer societies 250,000 years ago, and our meals were based on what nature gave to us during different seasons, locations, and climates. It wasn’t until 1977 that we discovered the distinction (and coined the term) of complex carbohydrates, which were (and still are) considered to be "“nutritionally superior.” Think about that. At the beginning of the century, people did not eat based on any designation of carbs, fat, and protein. They just simply ATE. Since the industrial revolution, we are no longer in tune with our body’s natural inclination towards food with all of the fake junk, but those kinds of indicators are there if we can tune into them.
I want to make this blog post clear: I think that you should eat the Halloween candy.
I guess I just get confused, and I promise that I say this with zero judgement. Most of the time the candy that is sitting out is in the mini form. That makes them approximately 80 calories or less most of the time. There is not a single person on the planet that doesn’t have 80 calories within their daily requirement of energy stores for sugary, processed carbs and fat. “But I’m never going to eat just one.” WELP, let’s say that you eat 5 different chocolates at the board meeting. That’s 400 calories in chocolate.
Let me repeat: There is no human on the planet that doesn’t have the capacity to metabolize 400 calories worth of chocolate at one sitting.
But let’s back up to the mindset behind this. While you were sitting at the table and consciously deciding to eat them, what was your thought process behind it? Did you keep a mental check of “I don’t need this. I don’t need this” as you became more hyper focused on the candy then the very material being presented at the meeting. The point I want to make here is that you just allow yourself to let go of those “rules” in your head, the more likely you are going to listen to your barometer internally that tells you when to stop and what makes you feel good.
But what if you don’t stop, you ask? What if every single time you feel like an addict and can’t ever stop eating them? You just can’t trust yourself around it, right? No. I believe the very exposure to it and allowance of it is what will break the cycle. You might be nutritionally deficient in other areas that are causing you to crave them, or you could just be doing a mental game of restrictive behaviors around the office food therefore, when we practice restriction in the form of food, the more likely we are going to want the thing that we are telling ourselves we don’t want or need.
I know this sounds complex, and it is. However, the process of cognitive behavioral therapy around food is one of the most important things I think anyone can do so that this doesn’t happen year after year. I am not telling you to create a “lifestyle change” around the holidays. I’m not telling you to not eat the candy. I’m telling you to absolutely eat the candy, and listen to your internal cues.
Would a child eat unending chocolate for days? Honestly, probably yes. Sugar acts on those dopamine receptors and makes us want more and more and more. But, the kicker is: Would a child then eat lunch right after? probably not. If a child was to “over eat” on chocolate based on the internal cues, he/she would feel sorta sick and therefore probably wouldn’t eat a meal for a good bit. That’s never what a parent wants so we start the job early where we tell them that candy is not a meal, and either force them to stop eating the candy or if they eat the candy, we tell them they must also complete their meal as well. We are already engineering them to not listen to their internal cues.
Children regulate their hunger and fullness cues. Children do not feel guilty around halloween candy. Children do not gain 10 pounds around every holiday season and then have to work on January 1st to set new goals. These are all LEARNED BEHAVIORS, and if you give yourself grace, I think that you can go back to those child like behaviors.
Typically if someone is “into fitness and health” or macro counting, they just find a way to “make it fit” into their macronutrients for the day. I think that this is a great approach FOR SOME, however, if you are not someone who is “strict” then if you go over the amount that you have allowed yourself, then that produces the “f it effect” and then you’re 10 candy deep. There are some that NEED the macros to be able to trust themselves to eat it period because otherwise, they would just never enjoy a treat EVER, and I don’t think that’s any way to live either. Let this be clear as well: I’m not telling you to count macros to enjoy halloween candy. Heck no. But, I’m also not telling you not to.
You know yourself best, but restraint bias is huge. You THINK that you are going to be able to abstain, but the more that you think that you can abstain, the more that your brain works against you. The more that you tell yourself you don’t want the candy or you will only have one of the candy, the more that you will eat.
What if you switched your entire methodology of the way that you went into the meeting with halloween candy and treats on the table? What if you weren’t on an unending diet ALL THE FLIPPING TIME? What if you ate one and thought “How does this make me feel?” What if you thought ahead and thought “How would a second make me feel? Would I enjoy the taste? Would it make my stomach hurt? What has happened in the past when I’ve done this?” If in the past, you have had 4 and felt fine, then by all means, EAT FOUR CANDY BARS! If you recall that maybe last time that didn’t make you feel so great, then maybe listen to that cue.
I know that it should not be this complicated but it is for most women, and many men.
Why do we all bring food for others to enjoy while simultaneously guilting ourselves that we can’t have any? Who is eating all this food in peace? No one? How pathetic as a society if this is the game that we are playing. I know you might be thinking that some really do not put this much thought into it, and that might be true, but I know that I have worked with thousands of people over the years, and this narrative persists CONSTANTLY.
JUST EAT THE DAMN CANDY BAR. EAT THE CASSEROLE.
If you need to tract it within calories or macros to do so, then do it. If you find yourself in the realm of binge eating if you even begin, then why not work through the origins of those thoughts instead of just guilting yourself every time.
Last note on all this: Let’s say that you eat 10 candy bars. Shew, that’s a stomachache, but let’s say it happens. The guilt sets in. Why don’t we take it one step further?
What is the guilt originating from? From a philosophical standpoint, what is inherently morally flawed about a stomach ache from too much chocolate? Absolutely nothing. However, society has taught us that this leads to weight gain, and weight gain is bad. Weight gain equals lack of control, laziness, and not having your life together. You can’t be that person, right. You’re better than that, you tell yourself. But when you look around you, do you care that anyone else is abstaining or partaking? No. Because you yourself probably brought a treat.
We all bring treats to spoil others with love while simultaneously saying we have to have our. life put together and. not eat too much of it??? Y’all, we gotta have a cultural shift.
It’s so cliche, but your worth is not tied up in your weight gain during the holidays. We need to come back to neutrality with our body, and recognize that it’s just performing the only way that it knows how. It will digest, metabolize, and process that food to where you will wake up the next morning, and the same people will love you.