By Julianna Keskic, October 25 2023—
The spooky season is a time for having fun, getting together with friends and enjoying your favourite treats. Yet in a society that’s driven by diet culture, it can also be a time of insecurity, anxiety and fear. I am sure many of us have experienced feelings of guilt that beat down our self-esteem and body image after Halloween ends. Know that you’re not alone in feeling these competing emotions vying for control, or experiencing the struggle to maintain a positive mindset during this holiday.
Feeling bad about your appearance is draining and damaging to your mental health. Instead of dreading Halloween let’s break from the narrative of diet culture that is detrimental to both body and mind and instead allow ourselves to have fun. There are lots of things to get scared of this Halloween, but one thing we don’t need to fear is, the real monster for a lot of us, diet culture. Diet culture can cause many of us to mistreat our minds and bodies by convincing us that food is the villain.
Diet culture is an ideology that is ingrained in our society which promotes fat loss, values thinness, demonizes certain foods and takes one’s physical appearance as the measure of health and well-being. Diet culture often disguises itself as a positive and benign health-focused concept when in actuality, diet culture thrives on the basis of making you believe your body is the problem and needs to be fixed. It is essential to emphasize the point that diet culture also feeds into a multi-billion dollar industry. The push to advertise unsustainable nutrition and fitness standards and then sell the fix when you inevitably fail is now a driving force in our capitalist society. Diet culture actively promotes the assumption that certain food groups are good and others are bad and during this season that has a focus on candy and sweets the moneymakers of the diet industry are all too eager to get their claws into your insecurities and further push these damaging ideas about body and health.
These rigid thoughts of good versus bad, and healthy versus unhealthy that have become so ingrained in our society are the gears leading many people into extreme approaches to exercise and restrictive eating habits that don’t lead to better health but rather become harmful and keep us stuck in the cycle of diet culture.
Yes, it is easier said than done but here are three strategies you can implement to help break free from restrictive thinking when diet culture and restrictive behaviours rear their heads this October.
- Know that indulging in your favourite sweets is not a failure. The only thing that failed is diet culture and its negative influence.
- Instead of attaching shame and other negative emotions to Halloween candy, give yourself permission to enjoy it. Giving yourself this permission and listening to your body’s cues can reinforce a positive relationship with food not just during the holidays but in general as well.
- Don’t suffer alone. Suppressing your feelings can be detrimental. Instead, Let your friends and loved ones be a support system for you. Doing so will not only make for a Halloween full of laughs and fun but will make it a time of lasting connection and support.
So this Halloween, slay that monster by practicing self-care, spending quality time with people who support you and giving yourself permission to enjoy that candy.
This article is a part of our Opinions section and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Gauntlet editorial board.