The leaves are falling, the crisp air has set in and nature has turned shades of red, orange and yellow. It must be fall. With the arrival of autumn comes colder weather, warmer colors, and — maybe most importantly — Halloween.
This celebration is one that has now come to be defined by one thing: candy.
In the festive weeks leading up to Halloween, the sweet treats so characteristic of the spooky season can be found virtually anywhere. Walking into a doctor’s appointment, there could be a bucket filled to the brim with chocolate near check-in. Many places of work keep at least a small glass jar of the sugary snacks near the main desk. Grocery stores and drug stores guarantee aisles stocked with tricks and treats galore.
Though the Halloween holiday itself stemmed from warding off ghosts, society has somehow made it all about food. And while the overindulgence of anything is bad, it is perfectly okay to give into the candy craze that is so central to Halloween.
Many young and older adults I know dread the days approaching Halloween even more than the actual holiday. They know they will be constantly surrounded by sugary temptations, which by their logic will cause some massive problems to their health.
Of course, popular candies such as chocolate, peanut butter cups and other sweets are not known for their health benefits. They are foods to satisfy the sweet tooth. They are not meant to be eaten at every meal, but simply when the soul craves something sweet.
But as with everything in life, things are best enjoyed in moderation. Part of a healthy lifestyle is enjoying a treat every now and then and listening to what the body wants. This does not mean eating whatever you want, whenever you want — rather, it means being putting nourishing foods into your body and engaging in self-care by occasionally allowing yourself a break. It does no good to be ruthlessly restrictive about eating, especially when eating is supposed to be enjoyable.
Scientifically, humans consume food to survive. It gives us energy in the form of calories, which our bodies need to continue running. But from a cultural and social standpoint, food is the link that creates candid connection. It has the rare ability to bring people of all types together and to spur positive energy. It can both form new communities and strengthen already established ones.
On a holiday such as Halloween, it is okay to indulge so long as it does not lead to excessive and continued eating of those foods. Holidays are supposed to bring happiness and joy and oftentimes that includes eating. We should not be scared of spooky season — even though the name suggests otherwise.
Moreover, we cannot be scared of letting ourselves give into our cravings. If we do, we risk restricting our bodies and appetites to an unhealthy extent. There is a reason diets do not work: they cut out too much and set aside no time for the soul to savor what it yearns for.
In order to eat mindfully, we must not be too hard on ourselves. In what is remaining of this season, if there is a bucket full of sweets, don’t be afraid to reach for one — everything in moderation.