I'll let you in on a little secret today: I had cake with ice cream for my birthday the other day. I also ate York Peppermint patties that week. It's a birthday tradition that I've celebrated since I was a kid. Yup, I'll probably have a few more pieces of candy on Halloween next week. York peppermint patties and Reese's have always been some of my favorites.
Of course, I know there's a few different types of sugar, preservatives, and probably GMOs in them. I know candy isn't rich in nutrients for the body.
I don't eat a 100% real foods, sugar-free, GMO-free, local, and organic diet. I'll admit it. That would take a lot of time and energy - and unnecessary restrictions. A few pieces of candy over a few days isn't going to destroy my health or life, especially if I'm actually enjoying it.
I also know how much will impact me because a lot of sugar will give me a stomachache and headache. When I listen to my body, I can tune into these cues and make a decision about choosing to not overdo it on the sugar because I'm much happier without feeling sick to my stomach. There's no judgment about how much I do eat - it's just about listening to what my body is telling me.
During the holidays, I notice my pants feeling a little tighter. Gaining a few pounds is okay with me if I enjoy and savor life (I don't weigh myself regularly, so I'm not even sure if I do or not). I trust my body enough to listen to my hunger and fullness cues. My hunger levels will adjust with my body's needs.
Be Balanced, not Extreme
The problem is taking the extreme view seriously may trigger extreme actions.
Disordered eating is easily triggered, and you tend to trust people you relate to more. You trust your favorite magazines, friends, or bloggers sometimes more than doctors or news articles. A personal story about how eliminating all sugar has changed their life can be very powerful. Let's use this power to our advantage to promote a balanced and individualized approach to nutrition.
Yes, share the truth about sugar with evidenced-based articles and stories, but don't expect that people will eat 100% sugar-free for the rest of their life. Some people may and not feel triggered to binge on sugar later, but some people will take it to the extreme and restrict and/or binge.
Be honest with yourself and those around you.
Let them know that it's all about progress and balance. Eating a piece of candy on Halloween or savoring a piece of pie on Thanksgiving is totally okay.
Nutrition is just one piece of the puzzle. Mindset is arguably just as important. Enjoy life, and savor all the food you eat. If you choose to celebrate Halloween with some candy, eat your all-time favorite candy. Savor it. Don't let guilt creep in the next day.