Are you ready for Hallowe’en? Not the little ghosts and goblins appearing on the doorstep, but the far more devilish temptations of high-calorie, sugary, processed foods that can overwhelm our diets from now ‘til New Year’s Day.

I call it the over-eating season.  But don’t be afraid, you can have the occasional piece of cake (or candy) and eat it too. Some tips:

1. Take just one. Life is not a test of Calvinist purity. So if that little piece of chocolate is calling your name, eat it and move on. Seriously, walk away from the serving plate and stop with that one (small) portion.

2. Give your willpower a break. No one is immune from cravings so don’t make it harder on yourself than you have to. If you know you lose control over salty snacks or sweets, don’t keep them in the house. Just don’t. If it’s not there, you won’t miss it. Or reach for it.

3. Watch portion sizes. Get to know what a healthy portion looks like. (Hint: it’s smaller than you think.) And if it’s a food that packs on pounds or makes you feel uncomfortably full, eat only half—or less. That way you satisfy your taste buds but don’t overload your body with what it doesn’t need.

4. Savor every bite. Eat with intention and joy. Substitute mindfulness for mass. Make each meal a celebration, free of guilt and negativity.

5. Know what you’re eating. You can learn a lot from a nutrition label. Get to know what those ingredients and amounts really mean. If nothing else, reading about all that sodium and sugar will serve as an appetite suppressant. Better yet, learn how to cook healthier versions of your favorite foods and share with the ones you love.

6. And drinking. You know the drill. Water, not soda and everything else, responsibly.

7. Forgive yourself. If you eat or drink more that you had planned, let it go. Ask yourself why that happened and resolve to do better next time. It’s a cookie, not a capital crime.

8. Keep moving. No, you can’t walk off a candy bar. But you can overcome the stresses of the season with regular workouts that feed the body-mind connection.

With these tricks in mind, you can face down your fears and treat your { self } to a very Happy Hallowe'en!


Mind over platter

We are a nation of multi-taskers. Sometimes, that’s a good thing. We get a lot done. Other times—during mealtime, say—it’s a recipe for indigestion, weight gain and misery.

How can you bring order to disordered eating? In a word, mindfulnessliving fully in the moment so you can appreciate what you are doing, eating, thinking and feeling in an objective and non-judgmental way.

To bring mindfulness to the table, start by sitting calmly away from any distraction (we’re looking at you iPad, iPhone and TV). Take a deep breath and:

 - focus on what you are eating (the color, texture, taste, mouth feel) so you can truly savor (and later remember) the experience.

Why it’s a good thing: Food becomes an aesthetic pleasure (true comfort food), not a drug or the enemy. It fills all your senses.

 - eat more slowly and with greater awareness so you can identify the physical signs of hunger, satiety and satisfaction.

Why it’s a good thing: You get to know what your body needs (and find you may not need to eat as much).

 - remember how the food makes you feel before, during and after eating so you can separate emotional cues from actual physical hunger.

Why it’s a good thing: You can pre-empt negative emotions (shame, panic, anxiety) that you may feel around food and that fuel overeating and guilt.

 - make your own informed decisions about portion size and servings so you can take control of what and how much you eat.

Why it’s a good thing: You see food as nourishment, not a way to fill an emotional void or satisfy others’ expectations.

Just getting started on a mindfulness practice? Check out the Mindfulness Daily app, whose prompts and techniques make it easy to incorporate mindful living every day.