The Spooky Truth Behind the Halloween Candy Binge

  • by Jessi Peretti, RD.

Nervous about the upcoming access of Halloween candy? Concerned you won’t be able to control yourself?  Making a plan to decrease the availability of candy or monitoring the amount you allow yourself to eat? Already frustrated with yourself for overindulging? 


Don’t blame yourself and your lack of willpower.  Overindulging in candy is a normal response to foods we are not usually exposed to.  Its also normal if you chronically undereating or don’t eat often enough or if you set up rules and limits around how much and when you can have candy.  If you want to make access to Halloween candy less spooky this year consider taking a gentler approach by considering these 3 tips.

Make candy more available.

Food Habituation.  A term used often in the research world meaning the act of repeated exposure to decrease response.  Put simply – the more exposure to candy the less you care.  The less exposure to candy, the more you crave!  By simply having candy available more often, you are less likely to overindulge.

Eat enough, often enough.

When our body is hungry, the site of foods that provide quick energy (aka candy) causes our brain to light up with excitement leading to a strong desire to consume said food.  Once the food is consumed, our brain lights up more leading to an even stronger desire to eat.  By eating when we are hungry and eating enough we give the signal to our bodies that we will feed it and feed enough decreasing the need for quick energy.

Give yourself unconditional permission to eat.

Removing any and all rules around food decreases the feeling of food deprivation leading to less overeating and distress around food.  Some food rules that mask themselves as “healthy”

  • “I will have a salad for lunch since I am going out for dinner later” when what you really wanted was a sandwich
  • “I will have just one”
  • “If I plan to have candy later I will be sure to go for a run this afternoon”
  • “I don’t eat sugar”

Regardless of what the day held or will hold, regardless of whether you workout or not you can enjoy the candy, as much as you want until you feel satisfied.

Halloween candy shouldn’t be scary!  It should bring joy and pleasure and an opportunity to socialize with friends.  And if it has felt scary?  Don’t blame yourself.  Blame diets, food rules, and body hate.  Make a plan to prepare differently next year by increasing exposure, eating enough often enough, and giving yourself unconditional permission to eat.

If any of these tips feel uncomfortable or out of reach for you consider scheduling an appointment with your Montana State Registered Dietitian to learn more.  Free for any student taking 7 credits or more or paying the student health fee!  Give us a call – (406) 994-4380.

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