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The Food-Related Talk That You Need To Hear Before Halloween

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at OSU chapter.


It’s a holiday that many feel with a sort of carnal nostalgia – destroying pumpkin innards, dressing in grotesque costumes and eating candy by the fistful for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The childish excitement that we all feel around the 31st of October may have grown to surround other activities more suited to college life, but there’s always one thing that will remain the same about Halloween, no matter the year. Halloween marks the beginning of the “eating season.”

Every year’s pretty much the same. Halloween leads to Thanksgiving, which leads to Christmas, which leads to New Year’s. This is the time of year when eating starts to become a central aspect of the celebration. However, a harrowing, unfortunate and, nonetheless, omnipresent aspect that accompanies this exquisite foodie paradise is guilt.

Feeling guilty about eating unhealthy foods is nothing new and it’s a phenomenon that comes mainly because of social pressures we feel on a daily basis. The constant message that “skinny is better” leads to an acute awareness of whether or not the food we consume is the cleanest option possible. We’re taught to disregard how truly unhealthy the mental agony that we impose upon ourselves is every time we eat a cookie and to instead reinforce it by reminding ourselves how that cookie will impact our exteriors.

Halloween, as fun as it is, often leads to nagging eating-related guilt. As much as we look forward to feasting on pumpkin-flavored everything and wearing cute costumes, that pesky emotion is always going to be gnawing at us. While we should be getting scared silly by ghosts and fraternity Chads, the even scarier thought of gaining weight tends to constantly be in the back of our minds. We are no strangers to thoughts paralleling “I look bloated in this outfit” and “I’ll gain weight if I eat this” and the fact that Halloween is only the beginning of a long line of days when eating is at the center of the celebration can be conflicting.

So, how can we begin to deal with that guilt? First, we have to understand it for what it is which is something we have imposed upon ourselves because of conditioning. Chances are, you’ve experienced a time in life where you were able to eat “bad” foods without feeling any remorse afterward. If you’re still in that stage – amazing! If not, the good news is you’re not alone. The guilt we may feel while eating “bad” foods comes about for a variety of reasons, but when we restrict ourselves, our brains only make us want forbidden foods that much more. This can lead to a seriously vicious cycle where we eat something “bad,” feel guilty, tell ourselves we aren’t allowed to eat “bad” foods anymore and eventually succumb to the same temptation anyway. It’s a cycle that’s difficult to break and dismally easy to reinforce.

Once we’re able to understand why guilt is so pervasive, it comes down to forming new, good habits to replace the old ones. Practicing a healthy mindset surrounding food isn’t easy, but if you keep a couple things in mind, positive mantras become much easier to adopt:

  • First, it’s important to challenge the idea that “healthy” is synonymous with “good,” and “unhealthy” with “bad.” Although the calorie count of a donut is indisputably higher than that of an apple, disassociating these labels from the foods you may currently associate them with is of utmost importance when it comes to breaking the cycle of guilt. If a donut makes you happy and will keep you from constantly thinking about food, eat it! Not only will it keep you sane, but it can prevent later binge-eating and ultimately be physically healthier than depriving yourself of it.
  • Stop speaking out-loud about how you “shouldn’t” eat a certain food. Although negative thoughts surrounding food don’t go away overnight, refraining from verbalizing these thoughts can subsequently make you think them less frequently.
  • Try to abstain from counting calories. Eating intuitively when you’re hungry is the best thing you can do for your physical and mental health, especially on a holiday like Halloween, where counting calories is bound to drive you crazy.

Finally, keep in mind that your body is different from anyone else’s. I’m going to be the communal mom for a moment, but the weight at which you may naturally be the healthiest is going to be different from anyone else’s. It doesn’t detract from your self-worth, and the sooner you start to understand how/whether eating-related guilt fits into your eating patterns, the sooner you’ll be able to kick the habit and enjoy your Halloween to the fullest.

Tess is a fourth-year at Ohio State. She is majoring in journalism with minors in English, history and political science.