October 27, 2023
It's Halloween, which means there's a good likelihood that your house is about to receive an influx of candy. Before you panic, I wanted to remind you of a process called habituation.
Habituation is when you keep “forbidden” foods in the house regularly so that there’s no pressure to eat them before they are gone. Regular access removes the novelty. Plus, knowing that they’ll be available to you now, tomorrow, or some other time later, allows you to better assess if you actually want to eat or even enjoy eating those foods.
When we classify foods as off-limits we create this additional emotion and novelty surrounding those foods that can increase their appeal. When we bring them into the house after a period of restriction, it makes sense that we would want to eat them. They’re new and exciting. Now many people will bring something like Halloween candy into the house, eat it really quickly because they never have candy in the house and it's a novelty (and maybe because they feel like the faster they get it out of the house, the faster they can go back to being "good"), and then after the candy is gone, it's limited again. Unfortunately, making candy forbidden again doesn't really solve the problem, it just preserves the appeal. The next time you bring candy into the house, you have the same issue where you are eating it simply because it's there and not because you actually want or enjoy it. In fact most people eat forbidden foods so quickly they don't even have time to enjoy them.
So, this year, instead of grabbing handfuls of candy to eat in secret or eating candy in larger amounts just to get it out of the house, I would encourage you to take a breath, slow down, and eat with intention so that you can become habituated to the candy.
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