Take Control of Halloween Candy
By Pam Moore
While Halloween might be spooky, what’s scary is how you feel after a candy binge. While being an adult means I have the freedom to eat candy until I’m sick, that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. In fact, it is decidedly a bad idea.
The good news is that you don’t have to change the essential part of yourself that loves candy in order to ignore sugar’s siren call. Even when it’s marked way down come November first. The key to taking control of your candy consumption is to take the emphasis off of changing yourself and instead focus on changing your environment. Here’s how.
1. Get rid of the candy. The Switch Witch is an excellent “helper” for parents looking for a way to get rid of candy without being the bad guy. The friendly witch simply takes the candy and leaves a non-food present in its place shortly after Halloween. Alternatively, you could have an “unofficial” switch fairy come to your house, akin to the tooth fairy. Though it was designed for parents wishing to keep their kids from eating too much candy, the Switch Witch concept also ensures that the parents don’t break into the kids’ stash.
2. Plan your meals and snacks. When you hit that late afternoon slump and you have candy at your fingertips or a bag of unwashed, unpeeled carrots at the bottom of your vegetable crisper, it’s only human to choose the former. But what if your carrots were washed, peeled, sliced, and ready to eat in an easily accessible container? Prepping veggies as you need them only makes it easy to let them rot before you get to them. Instead, find a time or two each week to prepare a variety of healthy snacks at once. You could fill a gallon-sized plastic bag with sliced celery, carrots, and bell peppers and take out a few when you want a snack. Alternatively, you could put a handful of snap peas and cherry tomatoes into snack-sized Tupperware to quickly toss in your bag before you head out.
Similarly, a little meal planning goes a long way. While there are countless apps designed to simplify the process, choosing the “right” one might be overwhelming. If this sounds like you, it’s okay to keep it simple and keep technology out of the equation. Your system could be as low-tech as sitting down with your calendar and a piece of paper, noting which nights you will be eating out or too busy to cook, and which nights you will be available to cook. Then just plug in the meals you’d like to eat and the nights on which you’d like to eat them. After that, all you have to do is make a shopping list and hit the grocery store, or submit your order with your favorite online shopping tool. As long as you ensure there is enough food for leftovers or a simple meal (e.g. salad or a tuna melt) on the nights you’re pressed for time, you will be well on your way to avoiding the temptation of going out to eat, grabbing take-out, or worse, filling up on candy. As Benjamin Franklin famously said, “If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail.”
3. Take control of your schedule. When scheduling meetings or social engagements, take the opportunity to meet in places that won’t tempt you to overindulge. It’s just as easy to talk over a walk or a hike as it is over a meal. Meeting for coffee or tea in the morning might be a great alternative to meeting for drinks after work, when the temptation to order a plate of wings or fries is strong. If a work meeting must be scheduled during a meal, take the initiative to suggest a place that has a selection of salads or a place that is in walking distance from your office—and schedule the time it takes to walk there. If you’re meeting someone for a meal in a social context, you could suggest cooking together at your home or meeting for a picnic if the weather is good.
Whether you’re nuts about Paydays, wild about York peppermint patties, or crazy for Kit Kats, it’s normal to crave candy. While we have outgrown the thrill of walking outside past our bedtimes, wearing gauzy princess gowns or superhero costumes, a taste for candy is something most of us never outgrow. If, like most of us, you find it takes superhuman strength to resist sweets, try changing your environment instead of yourself and you might just avoid the scary sensation of going into the holiday season with a sugar hangover.
Pam Moore is an award-winning freelance writer, intuitive eating coach, and host of the Real Fit podcast. Get her free guide to improving your body image at pam-moore.com.