9 Spook-tacular Ways to Enjoy Halloween Without the Guilt

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Do you think the scariest thing about Halloween is all the candy?  Many of us buy all the candy we don't like (hello, candy corn) just so we won't be tempted, but end up bingeing on the good candy we really want.  What ought to be a fun holiday becomes a torturous night of deprivation and binge eating.

I want to give you a Halloween treat that is 100 percent guilt-free and calorie-free, too.  This Halloween, focus on treats that go beyond the candy bowl. Let's dive into 9 guilt-free ways to truly enjoy the season.

Afraid of the Dark?

The scariest thoughts are the dark ideas you have about yourself. Thoughts like, “I suck” or “I'm too fat/stupid/ugly” or “Who would love me?” just make you feel terrible about yourself. And that's truly frightening.

When we have negative and self-deprecating thoughts about ourselves, it can be incredibly scary and damaging to our self-esteem and overall well-being. These thoughts can create a cycle of self-doubt and insecurity, leading to feelings of sadness, anxiety, and even depression. 

It is important to recognize that these thoughts are not a reflection of who we truly are but a product of our own inner critic. By challenging and reframing these negative thoughts, we can break free from their hold and cultivate a more positive and compassionate mindset.

One way to combat these dark ideas is through self-reflection and self-compassion. Take the time to examine your thoughts about yourself and ask yourself if they are based on reality or if they are distorted and exaggerated. 

Often, we tend to focus on our flaws and shortcomings while ignoring our strengths and accomplishments. 

By practicing self-compassion, we can learn to be kinder and more forgiving towards ourselves, acknowledging that we are human and that it is okay to make mistakes.

Another helpful strategy is to seek support from others who know you and feel safe. Talking to a trusted friend, family member, or therapist about your negative thoughts can provide a fresh perspective and help you gain insight into their origins. 

Sometimes, these thoughts stem from past experiences or traumas that must be addressed and healed. By sharing your thoughts with someone you trust, you can unravel their underlying causes and work towards healing and self-growth.

Remember, the scary, mean thoughts aren't true. By challenging and reframing these dark ideas, seeking support, practicing self-compassion, and engaging in self-care, you can cultivate a more positive and empowering mindset. 

Got Ghosts?

If the ghosts of the past are haunting you, it's time to deal with them once and for all.  How do you know if you're being haunted? Consider your childhood or earlier years. If you had a critical parent, teacher, or sibling, and now you are equally critical of yourself, that critical voice belongs to others, not to you.  The key to change is to find your authentic voice and view yourself as you are, not as others once treated you.

Or, do you ever find yourself echoing negative thoughts in your own mind? That constant, nagging voice in your head that sounds so familiar? You hated when people called you stupid, for example, but now you tell yourself you’re not smart enough.

We often internalize critical voices, which can exacerbate issues like emotional eating and binge eating, particularly during festive events like Halloween. 

But where do these voices actually come from and how do they take root so deeply within us? 

We absorb critical voices in a lot of ways, some of which are more subtle than others. 

An innocuous comment about candy from a well-meaning friend, a teasing joke from a sibling about your sweet tooth, or perhaps a critical remark from a stranger suggesting you should ‘lay off the chocolate'. 

We may replay or ruminate on critical or unkind words from parents, teachers, peers, or relatives. This can lead us to become self-critical or doubtful of ourselves.

Criticism doesn't have to be specifically about food. Any consistent criticism erodes self-worth, leading to poor body image and the urge to “comfort” oneself with food. Internal critical voices perpetuate negative thoughts like “I'm so fat and ugly” or “I have no willpower.” 

This self-shaming fuels the binge/shame cycle. Bingeing can become a reliable way to cope with intolerable feelings. 

Harsh inner critics also create unattainable standards of perfectionism, so nothing is ever “good enough.” This can spur a sense of failure and the impulsive desire to binge as a way to cope.

We might take on the negative assumptions, attitudes, or beliefs expressed by others – for example, thinking we're not smart enough, believing we're unlovable, and seeing ourselves as inadequate. 

We can become excessively focused on avoiding criticism, rejection, or disapproval from others. This can make us insecure and overly dependent on external validation. Many of us might develop an inner critical voice that constantly judges or berates us. This “inner bully” continues the negative self-talk we heard growing up.

We can be passive or submissive when criticized rather than standing up for ourselves. Maybe we feel even we “deserve” the criticism or that it motivates us. Criticism can shape our self-image and erode our self-confidence over time. This can manifest as low self-esteem, perfectionism, or self-doubt.

Constant criticism can lead us to be more self-conscious and hypersensitive to rejection. We might withdraw socially to avoid being judged. When that happens, we may turn to food for comfort and fulfillment instead of to people.

The internalized critical voice can be deeply ingrained and difficult to overcome. It can become a habitual way of thinking, influencing our behaviors, emotions, and overall well-being. It can lead to a negative cycle of emotional eating and binge eating since food is a way of coping with the negative thoughts and feelings generated by this internal critic. 

Recognizing and addressing this internalized critical voice is crucial for those who want to break free from the cycle of emotional eating and binge eating, especially during challenging times like Halloween when there may be an abundance of tempting treats around.

Notice the tone and content of these thoughts. Are they kind and compassionate, or are they harsh and judgmental? By challenging these negative thoughts and replacing them with more positive and supportive ones, we feel better.

Recognize that everyone makes mistakes and has moments of weakness. Instead of beating yourself up for indulging in some Halloween treats, practice self-compassion by acknowledging that it is okay to enjoy these treats in moderation. 

Remind yourself that one night of eating candy does not define your worth or your ability to make healthy choices.

Give Yourself a Treat

Ever find yourself saying, “I'm going to be good this Halloween and not eat a single piece of candy,” and then blowing it later? Or maybe you think, “I was so bad because I ate that pumpkin cheesecake” and then you feel bad about yourself.

On Halloween, the abundance of candy and treats can be a trigger for those who struggle with binge eating. Binge eating is characterized by consuming large amounts of food in a short period of time, feeling a loss of control, and a deep sense of shame and remorse. It’s not caused by willpower, control, or addiction. It is driven by stress, boredom, loneliness, frustration, helplessness, or sadness. 

It can also be caused by deprivation or the anticipation of deprivation. When we deprive ourselves of certain foods or restrict our intake, it creates a sense of scarcity and triggers intense cravings. 

We want what we think we cannot have. This can lead to binge eating large quantities of the forbidden food. That in turn, causes guilt and shame, which can perpetuate the cycle of binge eating if we don’t have other coping strategies. 

Restricting certain foods or labeling them as ‘bad' can actually increase the likelihood of binge eating. When you deprive yourself of certain foods, they can become more enticing and lead to feelings of guilt or shame when you eventually give in to the craving. 

Instead of completely avoiding your favorite Halloween treats, try practicing moderation and mindful eating. Allow yourself to enjoy a small portion of your favorite chocolate or candy without feeling guilty. By giving yourself permission to indulge in moderation, you can avoid the feelings of deprivation that often trigger binge eating.

You can break the cycle of binge eating by shifting your focus to the emotions that trigger it, rather than focusing on food. Take the time to reflect on your emotions and consider whether eating is the most effective way to deal with them. 

Developing a greater awareness of your emotional state and learning to respond to yourself differently can help you make more conscious choices about your eating habits.

Another strategy to avoid deprivation and binge eating is to plan ahead. Instead of completely avoiding Halloween treats, allow yourself to enjoy them in moderation. Set realistic limits and portion sizes, and stick to them. This can help prevent the feeling of restriction that often leads to binge eating.  

Consider incorporating healthier alternatives or homemade treats into your Halloween celebrations. 

By making conscious choices and being proactive in your approach, you can enjoy the holiday without the guilt and negative consequences of binge eating.

Enjoy the season's treats without tying your self-worth to it. Savoring a piece of candy? Do so without guilt, and you'll find more joy in the moment.

Living a Zombie Life?

Do you feel as if you're the Walking Dead, doing the same thing day after day, not truly enjoying your life to the fullest?  

If so, bring yourself back to life. Think about one thing that you've been waiting to do “one day” and make today the day you start working towards doing that thing. If you want to run a marathon, go for a walk or a short run.  If you want to start dating, go online and check out some dating sites.

If you feel you're just existing and every day has a horrible boring sameness, it's time to focus on living. Living and not merely existing is about embracing life to its fullest and finding meaning and purpose in everything we do. 

It's about actively engaging with the world around us and making the most of every opportunity that comes our way. 

Instead of just going through the motions and letting life pass us by, living means taking charge of our own destiny and actively pursuing our passions and dreams. It's about being present in the moment and savoring every experience, whether big or small.

One way to live and not merely exist is by setting goals and working towards them. By having a clear vision of what we want to achieve in life, we can create a roadmap that guides us toward our desired destination. 

This gives us a sense of direction and purpose, and helps us stay motivated and focused. Whether it's pursuing a career, starting a family, or traveling the world, setting goals allows us to shape our lives to be more fulfilling.

Cultivating meaningful relationships can also break you out of the rut. Surrounding ourselves with positive and supportive people who uplift us and bring out the best in us can enhance our quality of life. 

Building strong connections with family, friends, and even colleagues can give us a sense of belonging and fulfillment. With the right people who feel safe, that’s a more powerful fulfillment than food can ever be.

Breaking out of that zombie life where everything is grey and the same means embracing new experiences. Trying new things, taking risks, and challenging ourselves can lead to personal growth and self-discovery. 

Whether learning a new skill, traveling to a new destination, or pursuing a new hobby, doing something outside your comfort zone can open up a world of possibilities and enrich our lives in ways we never imagined.

If every day feels like you're just going through the motions, shake things up! Pursue that hobby or goal you've been daydreaming about.

Be Playful

Remember the fun of going out with your friends on Halloween when you were a kid?  This occasion is about being with other people, dressing up, and having fun.  So, have a great time!!

Being playful is an important aspect of enjoying life and can also be a helpful tool in managing emotional eating and binge eating. 

Playfulness allows us to let go of stress and connect with our inner child. Here are a few ways to cultivate playfulness in your life:

  1. Embrace spontaneity: Try to let go of rigid routines and schedules occasionally. Allow yourself to be open to new experiences and opportunities that come your way. Spontaneous activities can bring a sense of joy and playfulness into your life.
  2. Engage in creative activities: Whether it's painting, writing, dancing, or playing a musical instrument, engaging in creative activities can tap into your imagination and bring out your playful side. Don't worry about being perfect; focus on the process and enjoy the experience.
  3. Play with pets: Spending time with animals can be incredibly playful and uplifting. Whether it's playing fetch with a dog or cuddling your furry best friend, interacting with pets can bring out your playful nature and provide a sense of joy and companionship
  4.  Explore nature: Take a walk in the park, go hiking, or simply sit in your backyard and observe the beauty of nature. Engaging with the natural world can awaken your senses and help you reconnect with the playful curiosity you had as a child.
  5.  Try new hobbies: Step out of your comfort zone and explore new hobbies or activities that interest you. It could be anything from learning a new sport to trying your hand at cooking or gardening. Trying new things can bring a sense of excitement and playfulness into your life.
  6. Laugh and be silly: Surround yourself with people who make you laugh and don't take life too seriously. Watch funny movies, read humorous books, or share jokes with friends. Laughter and silliness can instantly lighten your mood and bring out your playful side.
  7. Engage in physical play: Play sports, dance, or engage in any physical activity that you enjoy. Physical play not only helps release endorphins, but it also allows you to let loose, be in the moment, and experience the joy of movement.
  8. Play games: Whether it's board games, card games, or video games, playing games can be a fun and playful way to relax and connect with others. Invite friends or family members to join you and enjoy some friendly competition.

Relive those memories of Halloween fun. Connect with friends, dress up, and revel in the joyful spirit of the season.

Conquer the Candy Conundrum

If candy bowls cause you anxiety on Halloween and there's no way you can have just a couple of fun-sized candies, think about having fun, non-food treats. Here are five ways to bring sweetness into your life on this night and beyond.

  1. Focus on non-food activities: Instead of making candy the center of your Halloween celebration, shift your focus to non-food activities. Host a costume contest, carve pumpkins, or have a spooky movie marathon. By engaging in fun activities, you can enjoy the holiday without relying on candy.
  2. Create healthier treats: Instead of indulging in traditional candy, consider making healthier treats that still capture the Halloween spirit. You can make homemade fruit popsicles, pumpkin muffins, or spooky fruit skewers. These alternatives can satisfy your sweet tooth while providing more nutritional value.
  3. Focus on the costumes: Halloween is not just about the treats, but also about dressing up and getting creative with costumes. Spend time planning and creating your costume or helping your kids with theirs. By putting more emphasis on the costumes, you can shift the focus away from candy.
  4. Get active: Use Halloween as an opportunity to get active and burn off some calories. Organize a neighborhood walk or run, participate in a Halloween-themed fitness class, or go on a haunted house tour. By incorporating physical activity into your celebration, you can counterbalance any indulgences.
  5. Plan a themed party: Instead of focusing on candy, plan a themed Halloween party with decorations, costumes, and activities that align with a specific theme. For example, you could have a Harry Potter-themed party with potion-making stations and magical games. By immersing yourself in the theme, you'll be less likely to fixate on candy.

Witchy Wardrobe

Embrace the spirit of the season with fun accessories or outfits. A spooky pin, a pair of ghostly earrings, or even Halloween-themed socks can boost your mood and make you feel festive without focusing on food.

Embracing the spirit of the season with fun accessories or outfits is a great way to shift your focus away from food during Halloween and still make you feel festive. By incorporating these accessories into your Halloween attire, you can create a sense of enjoyment without relying on chocolate or other tempting treats.

Wearing ghostly earrings or Halloween-themed socks can add a touch of whimsy to your outfit and your day. These small accessories can serve as a reminder to focus on having fun rather than on indulging in excessive amounts of chocolate. By consciously choosing to wear these items, you are actively participating in the Halloween festivities and redirecting your attention away from food-related temptations.

Remember, the goal is to enjoy Halloween without guilt and without succumbing to emotional eating or bingeing on chocolate. By embracing the spirit of the season through what you're wearing, you can create a positive and festive atmosphere for yourself. 

Spooky Stories

Engaging in spooky activities like telling ghost tales can provide a thrilling and enjoyable experience. It taps into our love for the unknown and creates a sense of excitement and anticipation. Sharing these stories with friends or family can strengthen bonds and create lasting memories. When we're having fun, we don't use food for fun.

Ghost stories can be a distraction from the temptation of chocolate. Participating in ghost storytelling can be a social activity that brings people together. Gather your friends or family members and take turns sharing spine-chilling tales. 

This can be a fun and interactive way to connect with family, friends, and loved ones while avoiding the guilt associated with overindulging in Halloween treats.

Telling ghost tales can be a mentally stimulating experience. It requires active listening and imagination, which can help divert our attention away from cravings for chocolate. 

By focusing on the suspenseful narratives and the emotions they evoke, we can find a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment that doesn't rely on food. It's a healthier alternative that allows us to enjoy the spirit of Halloween without succumbing to the temptation of excessive candy consumption.

Take the evening to share or listen to spooky stories. The thrill of a good ghost tale can be just as satisfying as any candy, and it's a fantastic way to bond with friends or family.

Crafty Corner

Doing creative activities like carving pumpkins, making your own costume, or decorating your home can provide a sense of accomplishment. These activities shift the focus from food to creativity. 

By channeling your energy into creating something unique and personal, you can distract yourself from the temptation of indulging in chocolate and other treats. Plus, you'll have a beautiful decoration or a fabulous costume to show off at Halloween parties or events!

Also, creative activities can be a form of self-expression and stress relief. It allows you to tap into your imagination and unleash your artistic side. This can be helpful for people who struggle with emotional eating or binge eating, as it helps to divert attention away from food. 

You can organize a pumpkin carving party where everyone gets to showcase their artistic skills. Or you can have a costume-making session with your loved ones, where you can exchange ideas and help each other bring your visions to life. 

By involving others, you not only strengthen your relationships but also create lasting memories that go beyond the temporary pleasure of indulging in chocolate.

There you have it! Nine delightful, calorie-free ways to get into the Halloween spirit. Remember, the essence of this holiday is about fun, frights, and festivities. Keep these tips in mind not just for Halloween but for celebrating every day with joy and self-love.

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 The Author


Dr. Nina Savelle-Rocklin is a psychoanalyst, author and radio host specializing in binge eating disorder. She is the author of The Binge Cure: 7 Steps to Outsmart Emotional Eating and Food for Thought: Perspectives on Eating Disorders, and co-editor of Beyond the Primal Addiction. She hosts The Dr. Nina Show radio program on LA Talk Radio.

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