I can honestly say, as an avid horror movie watcher, apple picker, and haunted house goer, that I spend all year waiting for this month, but, more specifically, this day. It is the time of year I feel most like myself and truly reconnect with the things and people that bring me joy. And while this day brings me a sense of peace, as someone who struggles with an eating disorder, I know it can also bring a lot of anxiety.
Today is not only the day where we are encouraged to wear customs that display every inch of our body, but binging on candy, sweets, and alcohol are not only normalized, but encouraged. However, when struggling with an eating disorder or disordered eating, the idea of eating any amount of candy may inspire some anxiety, especially if you feel that it is going to lead to a binge. And sure, we all laugh it off in the moment as we sit around with friends until the guilt, compensatory behaviors, and negative self-talk begin.
This does not have to be your experience, though. In fact, you can have a night of genuine fun with those you care about without constantly panicking over calorie counts, eating until you’re uncomfortably full, or tearing your body apart. Here are a few tips to help you enjoy this holiday wholeheartedly:
- Eat regularly throughout the day. This means eating enough of the foods you are wanting. People often “save” calories for the end of the day (despite our bodies having no ability to calculate calories in the same manner that diet culture does), but this often results in binging, as it gets us to a place where we are ravenously hungry.
- Eat candy more consistently. Another reason why we binge is because we label foods as off limits. If you really enjoy candy, have some every day or even some before you go out tonight. This can help satisfy cravings and protect your mental sanity.
- Prioritize the experience. It is okay to enjoy the food, but it can also be nice to enjoy the music at a party, the jokes of a friend, or the horror movies at home. Yes, food is great, and you should have fun eating it, however, remember there are other things to find joy in, as well.
- Be gentle with yourself. If you eat past comfortable fullness, that’s okay. I know it does not feel ideal, but it happens to all of us. Learning to listen to your hunger and fullness cues takes time and practice. It is okay if there are some bumps in the road along the way.
- Remember: No matter what you eat today, you still need to eat enough food tomorrow. There is no need to compensate or restrict.
Now, be safe and have fun! At the end of the day, that is what today is all about: fun. Do not let diet culture rob you of another fun experience.