Removing the Guilt From Halloween Candy
Happy fall, y’all! Personally, fall is my favorite time of the year. I love the cooler weather, the leaves changing, and all the excitement building up to the holidays. My birthday is also in the fall, so that probably has a lot to do with it too! Growing up, Halloween was always my favorite holiday. It was 3 days before my birthday and a guaranteed candy-palooza all week long. Now that I’m a dietitian, you would think I might have some differing opinions about the sugar-filled holiday now, but I’ll fill you in on a little secret…
I still love candy! And it’s still one of my favorite holidays of the year!
As a health-conscious adult, I know Halloween might be particularly tricky to navigate with all of the sweets and treats around. You might try to avoid candy at all costs, and when you finally allow yourself to have a piece or two, feel some sort of guilt over allowing yourself to eat it. For today’s blog post, I’m going to share some tips to help break that cycle and get you back to enjoying Halloween (and the goodies that come along with it, too) in a healthful and enjoyable way.
First, it is important to try and remember that all foods fit. If we restrict any one type of food, it’s pretty likely that we’ll crave and overeat that same exact food at some point in the future anyway. The same exact concept applies to Halloween candy. By restricting ourselves the enjoyment of a piece of candy, we might be leading ourselves into a binge-and-restrict eating cycle that isn’t healthy for our bodies or our brains. To combat this, allow yourself to have a piece of candy when you want it. A good tip is to include it after a meal rather than on an empty stomach and listen to your hunger and fullness cues. This will help to make sure you don’t end up with a bellyache from eating too much of it. If your body wants more, allow it. This will reduce the changes of a binge later in the day.
I recently learned of a practice you can try with your kids on Halloween, but I actually think it’s a great idea for adults, too. Once the trick-or-treating or handing out candy duties come to an end, go through all of the remaining candy you have and make a like and dislike pile. Keep the candies you like, and give away or throw out the ones you don’t like. If you’re reading this and struggling to think of what would fall into each category, try experimenting for yourself! Try eating one candy at a time and really focus on your experience while eating it. Do you enjoy the sweetness? Is it too tart? Maybe you end up realizing you like the fun-sized chocolates way more than the gummy candies. This is an easy way to avoid eating too much candy “just because it’s there.”
Another great nutrition tip during Halloween season is to EAT! Yes, you heard me right! Make sure you have 3 balanced meals and snacks prepared each day to promote optimal energy and performance. By doing this, you can prevent periods of low blood sugar and fatigue which could lead to mindless snacking. Above all, enjoy yourselves and all of the fun that comes along with Halloween.
Until next time,
Emily Sicinski, MS, RDN, CDN