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Tips an Tricks for Helping with Halloween Indulgences

October 30, 2018
Halloween has arrived! The Jack Lanterns are lit, the kids are trick-or-treating, the witches are flying, and the ghosts and goblins are screaming “BOO” to anyone and everyone they meet. Yes, Halloween is a day filled with fun, games, costumes, frightened faces, and….lots and lots of CANDY! Forget about the ghosts and goblins scaring you, or that haunted house that left you trembling in fear. The real undeniable fear is the huge amount of sugar, fat, and calories buried deep inside your child’s Halloween bag, or in that candy bowl sitting next to you as you graze while waiting for the next adorable child to ring the bell saying “trick-or-treat”. When you stop and think about the implications and ramifications of all the candy, it’s not just scary, it’s downright terrifying!!

Now, I will be the first to admit, that as a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN), I love candy. I have a deep deep love for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and I wish I could eat them whenever I wanted. During my college years, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups were my go-to when studying for hard tests such as organic chemistry or microbiology. They also were a big reason why I struggled more with weight during those years than I do today. It’s not because I no longer enjoy eating Reese’s, far from it. It’s just that I’ve since learned about the power of food and the power of calories in weight management, and nowadays I think before indulging in empty calorie foods. And yes, Reese’s and any/all Halloween candy are empty calories.

The fact is, food is simply not just for fuel. In the logical sense, yes, food really is only needed for fuel. But on days like today, Halloween candy is eaten (in excessive amounts) because it’s what we do here in America. And as a nutritionist, I think that behavior is just fine….for TODAY and TODAY only. But what’s the plan for tomorrow and the next few months? How are you going to avoid eating candy daily with so many yummy Reese’s, Snickers, KitKats, Butterfingers, and M&M’s staring you in the face? On average, every Halloween sized candy contains in the order of 2 teaspoons of sugar and the calories of 2 Oreo cookies. And I bet on Halloween, most kids (and adults) are consuming 10 or more Halloween treats, which is 20 or more teaspoons of sugar. That’s the equivalent of calories and sugar in more than half an entire package of Oreos (there are 36 cookies in a package of Oreos).

So how are you and/or kids going to moderate your candy intake? Can you moderate it, or do you need to completely avoid it after Halloween’s over? I challenge each and every one of you to seriously think about what approach works best for you so you can better manage your weight and overall health. However, to help you with this process, I provided some strategies for a successful Halloween day- after-effect. Some of these strategies include:

1) Eat as much candy as you want on Halloween, and get rid of it the next day. Donate it, ship it to the soldiers overseas, bring it to the office, or throw it away, if necessary. Do what you need to do to be healthy!

2) Pick out your favorite pieces and put 2 pieces in a Zip lock snack bag. Each day tell yourself “Today, I’m only allowed to eat what’s in this bag”. This will help tremendously with portion control and it will be a huge calorie savings.

3) Put the candy in a place that’s difficult to reach or annoying to obtain. The very back of the closet, an outside shed or garage, behind a large heavy object that would need to be moved in order to grab a piece. Make the candy annoying and uncomfortable to obtain, and I promise you, you will eat less.

4) The average fun size piece of candy is roughly 80-120 calories. The average 150lb person burns roughly 100 calories for every mile of exercise. If you want a piece of candy, commit to doing at least 15-20 minutes of moderate cardio in order to eat a piece. This won’t burn off every calorie, but it will help out A LOT.

5) Avoid candy all together on Halloween and the proceeding days. Now, this is the most extreme option, and many will think I’m crazy for even suggesting such a thing. However, some people really do better with avoidance vs. moderation on trigger foods such as candy and sweets. Also, if you’re focused on losing weight and you don’t want anything inferring with your goals, you may decide to forgo eating any Halloween candy this year. Whatever you choose, that’s okay. Own your decision!

I admit I’m a stickler about too much exposure to indulgent foods such as candy and sweets. It’s not because I’m a boring or a “square” person. But rather a concerned nutritionist who wants to see people enjoy the holidays, but to also have a plan for how they’re going to continue moving forward with achieving and maintaining health. Halloween is the kick start of the holiday season, and if one doesn’t pay attention and monitor the “extras” such as candy, desserts, and sweets, it could lead to a significant impact on one’s health come January. So go ahead, eat all the Halloween candy you want, TODAY,….but don’t forget about a plan for tomorrow and the next few months. You and your health deserve this!!!

Happy Halloween Everyone!!!
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