It is Halloween. That time of year when all the Facebook posts have a picture of candy and the number of minutes you have to spend doing jumping jacks for each “fun size” treat you consume.
How come they don’t post the rest of the year about how many minutes of walking you have to do to “burn off” a carrot? The number of leaves you have to rake to “justify” eating that 4 ounces of pork loin? The number of stairs you have to climb to use up all the soup you had at lunch?
My point here is, YOU DO NOT HAVE TO PAY for eating—and I’m talking about all of the foods here– with exercise. Because here’s why:
- Most of the calories you consume are for your body’s basic functions: breathing, digestion, heart beat, and other autonomic functions.
- Eating is functional and fuels us, for sure, but also eating is largely social, celebratory, and often a form of cultural ritual–why do we continually weigh that down with guilt or expectation?
- If you ARE trying to change your body composition (i.e. lose fat and gain muscle), you cannot exercise your way out of the particular food choices you make–you have to approach the project as a total package, working towards your best health with a combination of sound, intuitive balanced nutrition, exercise/movement, quality sleep, preventative and/or proactive health care, and stress management.
So, coming from a body-positive perspective, here is how I suggest we ALL approach Halloween and the rest of the Holidays that take us out to the end of the year:
- Eat when you are hungry. And, if you have somehow lost touch with your body’s hunger cues, start seeking help and guidance with that from your doctor, a body-positive trainer (like me!), a registered dietitian, or a psychotherapist.
- Eat a variety of foods when you are hungry, until you are no longer hungry (meaning satisfied, but not stuffed–which may also take some intention to figure out). That might mean that if you choose to have candy (which is totally fine) that you also include some more nutrient-dense food along with your candy, like a fruit or a vegetable, or a grain-based food with several grams of fiber, or a source of protein like yogurt or eggs, or lean meat, beans, etc.
- Eat joyfully with no guilt. (Again, this might take some doing, or undoing, depending on your previous conditioning, and you might need to seek out some help with this from a therapist, or do some journaling, or surround yourself with friends who have healthy and balanced and joyful relationships with food.) Because even if you do eat until you are stuffed, you will be hungry again at some point, and you will get another shot at connecting with your body in an intuitive way.
It also bears mentioning that if you have addictive behaviors around candy, then again, no amount of exercising or calorie burn is going to address those behaviors. Food addictions require lots and lots of help, usually, to recover from those patterns and shift your food relationship to a healthy partnership between you and the fuel that you eat and enjoy.
So, go Trick or Treating with your kids, and enjoy a piece of candy or two together! Help sort, be sure to inspect your candy for safety, and revel in the food rituals that come with fall.
Enjoy your Halloween, Wobblers.
See you soon on the mat!
(Psssst: Are you looking for some help with moving for joy or with YOUR particular food relationship? I’ve got you covered, and if I don’t, I have great referral partners. Let’s schedule a consult. email@example.com)