Strategies for Avoiding the Candy Crush at Halloween
‘Tis the season for candy, candy, and more candy. Just think about it: by the time it’s all said and done most Americans will have attended several harvest or costume parties where even the apples are dipped in caramel, endured powdered donuts and cider offerings at the local corn maze, been tempted by the Pumpkin Spiced Latte offerings at your coffeeshop, and participated in trick or treat.
By the end of October, you’re bound to have at least one bulging bag of sweet treats sitting on your kitchen table. Did you know that in the U.S. alone, trick-or-treaters will spend the evening collecting a staggering 600 million pounds of candy? That’s a lot of candy! And, some of it will likely end up back at your house. Of course, that big batch of high-sugar treats will be tempting for you and your children.
But, as you probably already know, sugar intake is a real concern for people who’ve had lap band or sleeve gastrectomy surgery. Individuals who have undergone these types of procedures should limit their sugar intake to no more than 12g of sugar per serving, recommends Sharon George, Certified Nutritionist and Registered Dietitian with the New York Bariatric Group. That is equivalent to 2 1/2 tsp. of sugar per serving. Instead of indulging in sweets, post-surgery patients should eat 4 to 6 small meals a day that are high in protein and low in fat and sugar.
And therein lies the dilemma. On the one hand, you’ll pay for it in weight gain and dumping syndrome if you partake in the sugary holiday. On the other side of it, October is a fun month. How do you take part in the festivities and enjoy your family without sabotaging your new life. Here are some ideas to help you enjoy the season while preventing a post-Halloween sugar rush.
- Beware of leftover trick or treat candy. If you are going to participate in your neighborhood trick or treat by passing out candy, minimize the tempting leftovers that you will have to deal with. For example, buy candy that you don’t enjoy. For most of us, that means anything but chocolate. But, you know yourself best so buy accordingly. You might also consider an alternative like giving out balloons or trinkets (that are too big to swallow) to the trick-or-treaters who come to your home.
- Focus your October fun on other activities. Carve messy pumpkins. Decorate the house with reminders of the season. Go on a fall leaf hunt. If you are especially ambitious, you can gather a few other parents and organize a neighborhood Halloween activity instead of trick-or-treating. A movie night, games or even a scavenger hunt still gives you the chance to dress up and socialize without focusing on candy.
- Sip on a low-calorie beverage. Keep your hands and mouth busy by drinking a zero-calorie cup of Fall-blend of hot tea (rich with disease-fighting antioxidants) or big glass of water.
- Replace the candy and Fall-themed baked goods with better choices. Put out a bowl of colorful fruit or veggies in place of the candy. You can also search for recipes that are low in sugar like these ones that use pumpkin and squash in fall soups, stews, and baked goods.
- Move the kids’ candy bag out of site. Studies show that frequently people will eat candy when it is within reach versus when it requires them to get up to reach the jar. If you have to get up to get a piece of candy, it is not always worth the effort, whereas when the candy is convenient, consumption is higher. If you’re saving some candy in the house for your kids, make it difficult for you to get to.
- Get rid of left over candy. The candy isn’t just bad for you – it’s not good for your kids either! Minimize its focus in your home by portioning the candy for your kids and save it for special treats. Or better yet, allow your kids to trade their candy in for something such as a book or small toy. You can always get it out of the house completely by taking the excess candy to work or group meetings, donating it to a group that will send it to our overseas servicemen, or checking to see if your dentist has a buy-back program for your child’s sack of loot, paying by weight.
- Take a walking break to enjoy the crisp Fall air. Getting away from your desk or out of your house for a breath of fresh air can invigorate you and help you get past the temptation of sweet treats that seem be everywhere during this season.
- Manage your hunger. Preplanned meals and snacks should keep you feeling satisfied and make you less likely to raid the candy bowl or give into that treat in the break room at work.
As you plan for the season, take a moment to remember the memories you have of Halloween from your own childhood. While the candy haul was certainly a special treat, the real fun was in dressing up and seeing friends. You can have a great holiday and make healthier traditions for your family without buying into the marketing trends and making it all about the sugar.