Halloween really stinks for those of us with food issues. What issues might those be? Anyone with a history of disordered eating including bingeing or any sort of addictive food patterns knows what we’re talking about. Halloween candy is everywhere starting Labor Day causing stress, anxiety, fear and often anger for many people who don’t know how to avoid a Halloween binge on those sweet miniature treats.

Most articles and advice columns tackling binge eating and even emotional eating start with this nugget: eat only when you’re hungry. One step further would be: then stop when you’re no longer hungry.

Mama, we’re telling you they’ve got it all wrong. No amount of substituting carrot sticks for Snickers bars or drinking gallons of water to avoid eating what you really want is going to really help you with this. Avoiding the Halloween binge can be done from a place of body love, we promise, and we can’t wait to get you started with this list of five strategies we put together for you.

1. Buy Candy You Love

We know that literally all the other articles on how not to eat all your kids’ Halloween candy will tell you to buy candy you don’t like but you’re here because you know that doesn’t work. Here’s the thing, when we binge, it’s on food we don’t love. We binge on subpar ice cream cake left over from the office birthday party that’s been sitting in the freezer for a week. Or stale donut holes from the grocery store we can eat in our car as fast as we can on the drive home. Or generic sorbet we bought trying to make the healthier choice when what we really wanted was Rocky Road. Or anything from a drive-thru.

When we binge, we inhale this (usually) sugar-filled food-like item as quickly as possible. We’re not eating it because we love it, we’re eating it because we need the rush. You don’t have to add “Halloween Candy I Don’t Even Like” to this list of binge food. When we have food we truly love, we savor every bite, relish every smell, and don’t go overboard. You’re set to eat your selection in moderation if you buy something you really love to eat. Get the candy you love because you’re going to eat it, and it’s going to be awesome.

2. Continue to Eat Your Regular Meals

So many diets advise you to skimp on food during the day if you know you’ll be “splurging” that night. We don’t know how on earth this is supposed to work because if we skimp on breakfast, you can bet we’re gonna be hangry come lunch and don’t even get us started on the monster that will emerge come dinner time. Know what happens when your body and brain feel deprived of nutrition? They want to feed you. A lot. And fast. Now, that sounds familiar… eating without discrimination in a fast-paced, out of control manner? Yeah, that’s a binge and that’s not what we’re going for.

Instead of spending your day skipping creamer and salad dressing and forgoing cheese and avocados, eat your usual, mostly-healthy meals. Fuel your body with food you enjoy and look forward to a little treat when the time is right. When will the time be right? Certainly not while the kids are fighting and you’re hiding in the pantry, no matter how tempting. Remember, you love this candy and it shouldn’t be wasted.

3. Don’t Waste the Candy

While it’s true there will always be more candy, why would you buy Halloween candy multiple times? When you decide on the candy you love, buy what you’ll need to enjoy some reasonably prior to the holiday and then to have it run out on Halloween. Remember, it’s Halloween candy, after all. Since you have a limited supply, you know you simply cannot waste this candy scarfing it down by the handful. First of all, you might get your house egged if you’re out of candy on All Hollow’s Eve but second of all, and more importantly, you love this stuff, remember?

You bought candy you actually want to taste, to savor, to take pleasure in! Newsflash: as much as we hear “food is fuel”, we beg to interject that it’s also an opportunity to find joy and pleasure in life and there is nothing wrong with loving the stuff you’re putting in your pie-hole. When you eat your Halloween candy, don’t waste it, enjoy it.

4. It’s Not Now or Never

Now, we know we said the Halloween candy would be gone and you’d have to wait till next year but hang on a sec. There are marketing geniuses getting paid millions of dollars (per holiday) to convince you that you simply must have this year’s limited edition Halloween flavored/colored/textured… thing. Whatever it is, it’s not actually going anywhere and we’re sure you’ll have another opportunity to have it pretty much whenever you want.

A giant bag isn’t something that’s typically on the grocery list, it’s true, but your favorite candy? The one you really love to savor slowly after the kids have gone to bed? The old favorite that you know you can have any time but like to enjoy only about once a week because that keeps it feeling just a little bit special? You can have that when you want it. It’s not Halloween-officiated nor will it run-out. Truly, this is not a now or never, stuff your face because you’ll never get another one, situation.

5. Understand Why You Binge

It’s pretty common knowledge that binge eating behavior has very little to do with the actual food consumed. Have you done the emotional work yet to figure out what it is you’re stuffing down into your belly and how to express it in a healthier way? If you’re answer is a meek and mild, “not so much,” that’s okay. Start here and now and think about your self-care. Examine how much sleep you get, how well you treat your body with nourishing foods and hygiene practices (we know a shower can be hard to come by some days).

And, if you do binge, Dear Peach, you are human and you make mistakes. You may eat one (or 17) too many mini Three Musketeers bars. A binge, however big or small, is not a failure but an opportunity for forgiveness. Look at the bigger picture and ask yourself what you really needed in that moment. Perhaps you’re tired and actually needed a nap. Maybe you’re experiencing some sensory overload from dealing with the kids all day and just needed to escape for a minute with a walk. It could also be that you just got carried away and that’s okay too. Understanding why you binge is one of the keys to avoiding them altogether.

Bonus Tip 6

Your kids’ Halloween candy is theirs. If they’d like to share with you and it’s a piece of something you enjoy, go for it! If you’d prefer to not have them storing stale candy under their beds till Easter (it happens!), talk to them about selecting a few of their favorite pieces and donating the rest to a food bank or local charity. Just hear us when we say that you have no business taking your kids’ Halloween candy. Boundaries, trust and respect are big deals to both mothers and children and using this holiday as an opportunity to embrace those things (both ways!) is glorious. So do it!

There’s no reason why you can’t avoid the Halloween binge this year. Approach your mindset from a place of authentic self and body love and you’ll get there. Honestly, life is too short to not dive into a Reese’s on Halloween and you know it!