What is more frightening than ghosts and goblins during Halloween? For many people who are trying to eat healthier, bags full of little Halloween candy bars brings up a lot of fear. If you are concerned about steering clear of trick-or-treat sweets in the next few weeks, don't worry.
This year try practicing a mindful chocolate meditation. For many people, it is okay to eat chocolate rather than completely avoid it. Not only would eliminating chocolate be no fun, but it also isn't realistic. Diet books want you to believe that you can eradicate chocolate and other treats from your life. Instead, learn to eat candy and other foods you crave in a new mindful way.
Why does slowing down and eating candy mindfully help? For people who eat chocolate, they are often thinking about the next piece of candy before they even finish the one they are enjoying. That is when they go for more. You can eat an entire candy bar and not really taste one bite. Eating chocolate mindfully is intended to help you to really get joy from it and to eat just enough to feel satisfied. This is such a challenge.
Before you get started:
1) Practice mindfully eating chocolate before you have a craving, prior to Halloween and when you are in a good mood. It's like learning how to swim. You don't want to practice swimming during big waves. Get the hang of it when things are calm.
2) Be mindful of how much candy you buy. Buy only exactly what you need or a little less. If you are afraid of running out, you are less likely to overeat it. As we all know, more is not necessarily better. The pleasure can quickly turn to displeasure when you eat too much chocolate.
3) Considering buying yourself an expensive piece of chocolate to eat mindfully and save the cheap version for kids (or if you feel that kids will get more than enough candy, buy stickers or a cool pencil to drop in bags).
4) Timing is everything. Buy trick-or-treat candy as close as you can to the date. Having candy hanging around can be too difficult for people who crave chocolate.
5) Put the candy away. Out of sight, out of mind (for the most part). The harder it is to get to the treats in the back of the closet or up on a high shelf, the better. You are likely to make the effort to get it when you really want it.
Steps to Mindfully Eating Chocolate: Use one chocolate kiss or a mini candy bar.
1. Notice the weight of a piece of chocolate in your hand. Look at it closely.
2. Observe the shape and color. Use at least three words to describe it to yourself.
3. As you unwrap it, listen closely to the crinkle of the foil or paper.
4. Bring the chocolate up to your nose, and inhale deeply. Notice what
thoughts come in your mind as you do this. The smell of chocolate can bring up some powerful feelings and memories. Deeply Inhale.
5. Do any critical thoughts come up like, "I shouldn't eat this"? If so, let the thoughts come and go as if you are letting go of a balloon.
6. Place the chocolate in your mouth. Notice the flavor, richness, and
texture. Pay attention to how the sensations change as it melts and molds to your mouth.
7. Follow the sensations as the chocolate slips down your throat into your stomach.
This is how you can eat chocolate mindfully. Again, it takes practice. Notice how different this is from popping pieces of chocolate mindlessly into your mouth.
When you are less afraid of uncontrollably eating Halloween candy, you'll be able to more fully enjoy the experience and eat just enough to join in the festivities without going overboard.
Eat, Drink & Be MindfulTM
Susan Albers, Psy.D., is a licensed psychologist who specializes in eating issues, weight loss, body image concerns, and mindfulness. Albers conducts mindful eating workshops nationally and internationally. She wrote 50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food, Eating Mindfully, Eat, Drink & Be Mindful: How to End Your Struggle with Mindless Eating and Start Savoring Food with Intention and Joy