Of course it’s okay to enjoy a treat every now and then. But all too often one treat becomes a handful. And one night of letting your guard down becomes every night. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a moderate amount of candy on Halloween, so no need to feel guilty if you did! However, now that Halloween is past, are you still snatching bars of candy here and there? If your office has a bowl out in the open, or if your kids’ haul is sitting in the pantry, you could run into some trouble.
If you’ve already gotten rid of the Halloween candy, and think you’re safe: Beware! You’re only in the clear for a few more weeks until the Christmas candy appears. We are entering the three-month long season of treats and candy, and these guidelines can help you navigate through it all.
If you aren’t paying attention, it is very easy to mindlessly overeat all that easily accessible candy for several reasons:
Studies (source below) have shown that we eat more when there is more variety. The most extreme example of this is a huge all-you-can-eat buffet. When given hundreds of different choices, we simply can’t narrow it down to one modestly sized plate of food. The same goes for Halloween candy. The assortment leads you to overeat. If you had a bowl of nothing but Hershey Kisses, you might have a few and then be done. But with the wide variety of textures, tastes, and flavors, it’s hard to stop at a modest 100-calories worth.
You probably wouldn’t mindlessly grab a full-size Snickers bar on your way through the break room or your kitchen. However, those “fun size” bars seem less significant, and we easily rationalize that such a little amount won’t make a difference. Consider, however, that there are only THREE fun-size Snickers in a full-size bar. How easy is it to accidentally or mindlessly go through well over three fun-size candy bars throughout your day or evening.
But it’s Halloween!
It’s very easy to give ourselves a break because Halloween only comes once a year. That’s true – and it ended when the clock struck midnight on Halloween night. Rationalizing poor food choices because of special occasions can become very problematic when that special occasion lasts a week, a month, or a whole season.
Strategy is far more effective than willpower, so if you want to halt the seasonal creep of the scale, here are some ideas to help.
Pick and Choose
Eighty-one percent of parents surveyed admit to stealing their kids Halloween candy. When the candy is sitting in a big bucket, they’ll never notice! Your kids certainly don’t need a bucketful of candy either, so give them a number and let them pick that many pieces to keep. For instance, tell them to choose 30 of their favorites and let them have one or two a day until they’re gone. This way, they won’t be eating candy they don’t even really like, and you won’t be stealing from their stash because that WOULD be noticed.
Out of Sight
What candy you do keep in your house shouldn’t be easily accessible and in plain sight. Have your kids put their stash in brown paper bags, rolled up and tucked into a corner of the pantry. You can’t mindlessly eat candy if it requires you to go to extra effort to get it. Keep healthy seasonal snacks, like apples and nuts, in plain sight instead.
Donate the Extras
Many dentists, churches, and other organizations collect extra Halloween candy and donate it to our troops or the less fortunate. Donations will be accepted at the C.W Avery Family YMCA until November 14, and will be donated to the Green Harvest Food Pantry, to be placed in Holiday gift baskets for low-income area families. For more details, contact Dori Fugate at 815-782-0502
Drinking lots of water and hot tea will keep your cravings down. Much of the time when we feel a little low and find ourselves reaching for a sugary pick-me-up, we’re actually dehydrated. Try out some fall-flavored herbal teas for a nice cozy taste of the season, and you may find you don’t care about the candy anymore.
Brush Your Teeth
That clean, minty-fresh mouth feels so good, and makes it pretty easy to stay away from all the gooey, sugary candy.
Get Some Good Stuff
Keep a small supply of high-quality dark chocolate on hand. A small square of rich dark chocolate will satisfy your craving better than a big handful of cheap candy, and even offers some health benefits. You’re not likely to binge on the expensive stuff, and you’re also not likely to dive into the Halloween candy if you have gourmet chocolate on hand.
If you think about how much time in the gym your candy is equivalent to, it might keep you away! Sweating out 300 calories takes a lot of time and energy, yet you could easily eat that in a few careless minutes. Is that 80-calorie Snickers fun-size bar really worth jogging a half mile? Even that small little roll of Smarties is worth 150 crunches! Don’t undo all your hard work for a “moment on the lips”. You can’t out-exercise poor food choices.
As we leave Halloween behind and head towards Thanksgiving and Christmas, it is important to stay mindful of all the rich, comforting, fall and winter foods and sweets. Stick to your healthy routine as much as possible, and save the treats for the truly special days.
Nourishing Thoughts is written by Julie Miller, an expert on nutrition and fitness instructor at the C.W. Avery Family YMCA.