Tricks to Enjoy Your Treats: How to Mindfully Enjoy Your Candy on Halloween


Halloween is my second favorite holiday (nothing beats Christmas for me!). I love dressing up in clever costumes and going to parties with my friends. However, there is one part of Halloween that can be hard and stressful for me: the candy.

I have a huge sweet tooth, so I would always want to partake in the tradition of fun sized candy bars and pumpkin-shaped peanut butter cups on Halloween. However, sweets were a huge trigger for me. I thought of candy as a “bad food” and eating it made me feel guilty and shameful. As a result, I had a really hard time finding a balance with Halloween candy. Some years I’d eat so much that I’d be doubled-over in pain from a stomachache, while others I’d restrict myself to just one or two pieces and then jealously watch my friends enjoy the Kit-Kats and Reese’s Pieces I so desperately wanted. Whether I was restricting or binging, I’d worry about the impact those extra calories would have on my waistband.

It wasn’t until I learned about mindful eating that my relationship with Halloween candy, and other foods, began to improve. To eat mindfully is to eat with intention and attention; it is to eat with the intention of bringing yourself both nourishment and pleasure and with careful attention to what you’re eating, your feelings about your food, and the effect food has on your body. In today’s society, it’s incredibly easy to eat mindlessly; I often find myself eating in front of the TV or on the way to class, and when I’m focused by the TV or putting one foot in front of the other I’m certainly not paying attention to the food I’m putting in my mouth. To put it simply, if you’re not paying attention to your food, how could you possibly fully experience it and enjoy it?

When I would eat candy on Halloween, I was never just eating it; I was thinking about how many calories were it in, wondering if people were judging me as I ate it, and repeating over and over to myself “Candy is bad for you” or “You shouldn’t be eating this.” In other words, I wouldn’t eat my candy with attention or the intent to enjoy it and was consequently left unsatisfied because I had never fully enjoyed the candy. Furthermore, without feeling satisfied, I would often reach for another piece, and then another, and then another…until I had acquired a stomachache and feeling of self-hatred for letting myself go “too far.”

However, since I learned about mindful eating, I’ve established a much better relationship with Halloween candy and learned some tricks to help me cope with the anxiety that used to plague me every Halloween. If you’ve ever experienced stress or anxiety around sweets, here are my tricks to enjoying treats on Halloween:

  1. Actively enjoy your candy. Eat it mindfully and be completely present while you’re enjoying your sweets. That means don’t eat it in front of the TV or while you’re writing that essay that’s due this week. Savor the flavors, textures, scents, and shapes of the candies you choose to enjoy. If you fully engage with your food and give it all your attention, you’re more likely to enjoy it and feel satisfied later.
  2. Lose the rules. When you tell yourself you can’t have something, or you can only have a fixed number of something, chances are you’ll want it even more. For me, when I told myself I couldn’t have more than one or two pieces of candy, all I could think about was candy and how much I wanted it. So, even when I ate those one or two pieces I didn’t enjoy them because all I could think about was how I wanted more.
  3. Instead of imposing rules on yourself, listen to you body. Are you full? Are you hungry? Do you really want that Hershey’s Kiss or do you want it just because it’s sitting right in front of you? If you’re really craving something, your body will let you know, so listen to it! Also, remind yourself that the candies associated with Halloween are available year-round. If you’re not in the mood for candy today, today’s not your only opportunity to enjoy it! You can always have it as a treat on another day.
  4. Remind yourself that foods are not inherently “good” or “bad.” These are labels that society has attached to certain foods, not explicit qualities of foods. Yes, some foods are more nutritious than others, but it’s also important to remember that we eat for nourishment and pleasure. Less nutritious foods can still be a part of a nutritious diet when they’re enjoyed in moderation. So, if you find yourself labeling candy as “bad” and something that should be avoided, remind yourself that it’s okay to eat less nutritious food for pleasure from time to time.

I hope these tricks help you enjoy your Halloween to its fullest. If you have any tricks that weren’t listed above, please share them with me by sharing on social media or commenting below!

Danielle de Bruin is a fourth-year undergraduate student at UCLA majoring in Sociology with a double minor in Italian and Global Health. She is the blog coordinator for the UCLA Healthy Campus Initiative and the director of UCLA’s Body Image Task Force, which is a committee within the Student Wellness Commission. With the Body Image Task Force, Danielle organizes events, workshops, and campaigns to promote healthy body image, self-confidence, and mental health on campus. She is also published in the journal PLOS Medicine and the Huffington Post.


Feed Your Busy Brain: 3 Foods that Will Boost Cognitive Function

Whether you have been enjoying a relaxing vacation, taking classes, or doing an internship, the summer break is now quickly coming to an end. Once the school year begins, we will be once again faced with the fast-paced life at UCLA, consisting of classes, assignments, extracurricular commitments, and packed social calendars. While we’re so busy at UCLA, it is easy to overlook our diet. However, planning our meals and including certain foods in our diets can actually help us to manage our busy lives at UCLA!. Three foods in particular — eggs, tomatoes, and spinach — can boost the health of our brains. These three foods are easy to access, whether you live on the Hill or off-campus, and easy to incorporate into various recipes according to your taste.


Eggs are not only versatile — they can be cooked in countless ways, from scrambled to fried to boiled, just to name a few — but also rich in choline, a nutrient that is similar to Vitamin B. A study from Boston University suggests that there is a positive association between choline consumption and cognitive performance. Subjects who had higher intake of choline in their diet performed better on verbal memory and visual memory tasks. In addition, authors of the study indicate that choline plays an important role in producing acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that is essential for normal cognition and brain function.


Photo via Google Images


From sandwiches to soup to pasta sauce, the tomato can be a part of the daily diet in numerous ways. Tomatoes are packed with beneficial nutrients, such as vitamin A, vitamin C, and a wide array of antioxidants. Among them, the antioxidants lycopene and beta-carotene stand out as brain-boosting nutrients. As this Psychology Today article suggests, these antioxidants are helpful in eliminating free radicals, which are highly reactive chemical compounds that can damage important cellular components. Additionally, lycopene regulates genes that influence inflammation and brain growth.


Photo via Google Images


Another common, versatile, brain-boosting food is spinach. Spinach can easily be added into a wide variety of dishes such as salads, omelets, curries, smoothies, and quesadillas. Spinach is a rich source of lutein, an antioxidant that protects the brain against cognitive decline. This study showed that over a period of 20-25 years, the frequency of spinach consumption and other leafy vegetables was inversely correlated with cognitive decline. Plus, spinach offers many other health-promoting qualities. It’s high potassium content aids in lowering blood pressure and it’s high fiber content promotes good digestive health.


Photo via Google Images

Miso Kwak is an undergraduate student at UCLA majoring in Psychology with a double minor in Disability Studies and Education Studies. In addition to blogging for the UCLA Healthy Campus Initiative, she plays the flute with the UCLA Woodwind Chamber Ensemble. Outside of school, she works as a mentor for high school students through Accessible Science, a nonprofit organization that facilitates science camp for blind youth.


Discover Dig at UCLA

By: Ian Davies, 4th-year Undergraduate at UCLA studying Environmental Science and GIS

Every Sunday at around 12:30, students gather at a little plot of land tucked away in the back of Sunset Rec. They pass through a modest bamboo fence, arm themselves with shovels, watering cans, and hoes, and descend on the fourteen vegetable beds and surrounding fruit trees.

This motley crew of undergraduate and graduate students might not look like a gardening collective, but their volunteer work helps operate the largest student garden on campus. Dig at UCLA: The Campus Garden Coalition, is a group I help run which repurposes underutilized spaces on campus into productive fruit, vegetable, and herb gardens for student use. None of us were experienced gardeners when we began. Rather, we were experienced eaters brought together by a mutual interest in food policy and the worrying disconnect between consumers and food production.

The result is delicious and educational. In the warm weather, we feast on fiery-colored tomatoes and curiously-shaped summer squash, while in the winter we enjoy dark leafy greens and root vegetables.

We nourish our minds as well as our bellies. We host workshops on gardening techniques, offer tours of our garden space, and transform our modest plot every week into a space for discussing food and sustainability.

Caring for own my food from vulnerable seedling to harvest has conferred a deeper appreciation for the farm systems which feed us all. I’ve also realized that for all of us, a little ingenuity can transform even the most cramped spaces into urban gardens, be it an apartment balcony or a bathroom windowsill. Gardening may not have been the easiest hobby to pick up at the beginning, but I’m happy to say I’ve found a life-long passion that I love sharing with others.

Dig at UCLA meets every Sunday at 12:00pm in the Sunset Canyon Recreation Center. No experience necessary! Visit us online at to keep up with the latest updates, including the upcoming construction of a new community garden at Hershey Hall.


Using Your iPhone to Improve Your Eating Habits and Live Healthier

Life at UCLA can be demanding- between classes, friends, homework, sports, and clubs- we often forget how important it is to take care of our bodies and to think positively about them. We’re very excited to announce an innovative and convenient way to help you develop healthy eating and exercise habits coming to UCLA in January! The Healthy Body Image program is an online program that can be accessed right from your iPhone or computer. It begins with a survey that helps identify which tips and skills would be most helpful for you. We understand each person is different, so the program is designed to fit your unique needs. You’ll complete engaging activities, learn healthy tips to treating your body right, and anonymously connect with other college students who are also using the program to help them live healthier lives.

The Healthy Body Image program has been used by thousands of college students just like you. Our technology partner, ThriveOn, has developed an iPhone app and online platform to help you access Healthy Body Image anytime, anywhere. UCLA will start enrolling interested students in January 2014. Check the CAPS website when you return from winter break to get the link to the survey!

Be sure to look out for our flyers next quarter for information about how to sign up! Feel free to email CAPS Psychologist Gia Marson, Ed.D. at Dr. Marson, Director of the CAPS Eating Disorders Program, is UCLA’s campus coordinator for this online Healthy Body Image Program.