You gotta love Halloween! The costumes, the decoration, the pumpkins. …and all that candy calling to you from bowls set out weeks before the 31st.
It’s all good until you realize this year’s candy has messed up your diet, your gut, your mood, and your energy …again. Technically, there is nothing spooky about candy, but many candy seasons of coaching has taught us two things: first, if you don’t tolerate sugar well and you love candy, you may want to have a strategy around your consumption. Second, if you are the kind of person who has all or nothing thinking, candy season can feel like a trap.
But there are good news, you can take some steps and think about the kind of Halloween season you want to have, enjoy it, not let it wreak havoc on your body, and not feel like you have to do something right after to “make it right”. After all, you want to have space for treats and have them on your terms.
1. It helps to buy candy right before Halloween
In most homes and work places if candy is lying around, it will get eaten. But see, you have the choice and control over when to stock. The day before, or a month before.
What if you spent the weeks before Halloween focused on the activities, the decorations, the intricacies of pumpkin carving, and only leave the candy for the day of the 31st? Wouldn’t that be kinder to your gut, your mood, your energy levels? Wouldn’t it be nice to have it for a couple of days, and not really sweat it the rest of the time?
2. Eat something nourishing in addition to candy
A real story here, but we have several clients who will eat just candy around the holidays, and skip important meals. Candy is not a complete food, and while fine in small amounts around meals, is not a meal on its own. Most of our clients share that just eating candy can interfere with appetite patterns and leaves them wanting way more than the original “just one piece”. There’s nothing wrong with having some sweet food in addition to the whole nourishing food you are already eating, so make sure you just save that for last.
You could even take it further and make Halloween a lower carb day. Start your day with some scrambled eggs and sausage, have a piece of fish with some steamed veggies for lunch, a hard boiled egg or two for your afternoon snack and then eat a normal dinner. THEN have some candy – you will have plenty of room for it. It’s not uncommon for many of our clients to plan their special holiday foods around other meals that provide plenty of macro and micronutrients to support their health goals.
3. Don’t keep the candy around after the holiday
Your body can handle a bit more sugar once in a while. But many days in a row may see diminishing returns on enjoyment and increased discomfort. A large percentage of our students report feeling better when they set their own limits on when to have candy around and when to keep it away. We also know how powerful the effect of environment is on making choices and changing habits – if you are aware that candy is tempting, consider giving it all away on the 1st.
4. On the day, choose a costume that makes it harder to overeat
Ok, I kid, I kid…
5. Respect other people’s candy
That includes your kids’ candy. Often, as we sit with students the weeks after Halloween, we hear stories about candy around the house that was just there, because it is the kids’ or their spouses. Choose what candy you enjoy and have a reasonable amount yourself while letting everyone else have theirs.
6. Eat the best candy
You can rate each candy and choose the best ones – this will not only allow you to truly enjoy your treats, but will probably be so much more satisfying. Of course, portion size matters, so be gentle with you, rate how full or satiated you are, and use common sense.
7. Make the office NO-candy land
If you have a costume party, stick to offering candy there, but keep it off the desks and counters, as seeing it will make it easier to eat a ton of it.
In his book Mindless Eating, Brian Wansink shows us how just being able to see candy raises your chances of eating it!
If you must have it at the office, hide it away till the party.
8. Make moves
This is especially true for our students who are on a weight loss journey. Planning an active day on Halloween is probably a great way to stick to your plan and make sure you are moving and enjoying your chosen treats.
9. If you can’t have just one
If you are a person who eats some candy and then has days and days of intense cravings, or even blood sugar disruptions, you may want to look deeper into what’s causing that to occur. While not that common, foods containing sugar can be a trigger for some people. Consult a nutritionist or RD who can support you in returning to a balanced menu, so these disturbances don’t last long.
What are your best tips for Tricking Your Treats this Halloween?
When you do eat candy, what is your favorite?
Do you have a strategy to enjoy your candy and feel great?
What do you notice about your eating behaviors around the holidays? Are there triggers? Or you are unaffected? Let us know!
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With all that said – happy happy happy Halloween!
This article originally appeared in 2015. We have since made some needed edits to reflect the current conversations and the needs of the students we support.