Well, it’s hard to believe we have reached yet another Halloween. Either way, it’s here and I can’t tell what’s scarier: those clowns that have been lurking about in the streets or the candy that will be lurking about in my kitchen …
An endless supply of fun-sized, sugar-filled snacks has taunted me since the beginning of October. For anyone who has adopted a healthy lifestyle but has a raging passion for peanut butter cups, I feel your pain. That being said, I have adopted a plan of attack (or, technically, non-attack if we are talking about how we are going to be acting around the candy bowl) and I am confident that we shall overcome!
First and foremost, I feel that it is best that we enlighten ourselves with what exactly goes into the candy that we steal from our children, friends, and / or younger siblings when they aren’t looking. What makes Halloween candy so dangerous? The nutrition facts on our fun-sized snacks can be very misleading, as our eyes commonly go straight to either the calorie or fat content listed on the label. Almost all of the candy in the treat bowl contains less 100 calories and 5 grams of fat. Pretty harmless, right? Not really.
Look at the list of ingredients and you will find our main culprit: sugar. It may not say “sugar” —maybe it says something like corn syrup or its high fructose counterpart. Maybe it’s some other scientific word that ends in “-ose”. Either way, it’s all sugar and it all works the same: it spikes your blood sugar-levels and, consequently, causes a surge of insulin to be released from your pancreas in order to lower these levels back to normal.
This can be very harmful to your body for two reasons: (1) in the long-term, your pancreas can be damaged due to the work it is going to have to go through to put out all this insulin, and ( 2) in the short-term, high insulin levels in your blood prevent your body from burning fat. Now that’s scary. (To read more on insulin and weight loss, check out my blog on Insulin Sensitivity).
So how do we keep these tiny treats from wreaking havoc on our bodies this Halloween season? Read on to learn some of the tips I’ve been using to resist the temptation.
Just One bite never works
How can something so small turn us into something so… not small? (I’m being politically correct in honor of our upcoming election). Well, common sense tells us that one piece of candy this Halloween season will not make us fat, which is absolutely the truth! So, if you have the willpower to just eat one fun-sized Snickers and be done with it, then go for it. But, be honest with yourself. That “just one” mentality hardly ever works.
You tell yourself that and then you actually eat the candy, realize how freaking amazing it is, and then before you know it, one piece turned into five (“It was all a blur…” Yeah, I’ve been there too). This is how we get so not small — not by one piece of candy, but by the one piece that turned into five, and then five more then next day, and so on. So what’s the moral of the story? Don’t even take the bite in the first place.
Out of sight, out of mind
Not having a bite of candy ?! But how? I know this can be a really hard thing to do, which is why I have found my second step to be very helpful: if you don’t see it, you are less likely to want it. How many times have you been going about your day, just walking down the road, only to stumble upon a gorgeous window display of pastries? Your eyes gravitate toward chocolate cake and, boom, your mind goes from thinking about what’s next on your agenda to thinking about nothing but chocolate cake (you probably want some right now). The brain is a wonderful, yet sometimes, horrible thing. As crazy as it may sound, I propose that we try to outsmart our brain. We can’t avoid stumbling upon desserts as we walk down the street, but we can avoid stumbling upon candy in our house.
Last week, I was attempting to study for an organic chemistry exam at the kitchen table. Well, behind my laptop was a jar full of chocolate bars and you can believe that candy was all I was thinking about in that moment. So, what did I do? I picked up the jar and I moved it into a completely different room. After a few minutes, I wasn’t even thinking about it anymore. Moral of the story: keep your kids ’candy out of your plane of vision. Doesn’t matter where it is (the trash can would probably be best) but I promise that, although simple, it really works.
Don’t let yourself get hangry
Unfortunately, we can’t remove the temptation in each and every situation. My next tip focuses on how we can be proactive and help reduce our candy cravings when the time comes. Ever been so hungry that you would honestly eat anything as long as it was edible? You can hardly function as a civil human being and even the smallest thing sets you off to the point where you are about to bite someone’s head off? You, my friend, have suffered from HANGER.
I’ve been there many a time, and I know once I have got my hands on something edible, it probably looked like a scene out of Jaws and I apologize for anybody who had to see that. Unfortunately, sometimes the thing we get our hands on is not the best for us, and, this time of year more than any other, there a dozens of little monsters in fun-sized wrappers practically everywhere we go just waiting for hanger to strike.
Before we start shoveling Twix bars down our throats so fast we can hardly taste them, let’s adopt my mom’s strategy. You see, my mom has spent the last 23 years in a home full of people who suffer from hanger-management. In order to stay alive, she has kept her purse armed with healthy snacks to tranquilize us with once the hanger began. Now that I am on my own, I have adopted the same proactive game plan and refuse to go anywhere without my arsenal (ie my backpack) stocked with at least two granola bars that I can whip out the second I start feeling like it’s time to refuel. Moral of the story: don’t want to binge on Halloween candy? Don’t get hangry. Don’t want to get hangry? Don’t be unprepared.
Sub bad for good
We all get cravings — it’s part of being human. Not acknowledging them is not going to make them go away, it usually just makes them worse. When we finally get a hold of whatever it is that we were wanting, we often indulge to a point that can do some damage, much like in the hanger scenario described above. Because of this, we should satisfy our cravings. So that means eat Halloween candy? No, not at all. When we crave candy, we are craving something sweet . So eat something sweet… and healthy. Does that even exist ?! Absolutely.
I always crave sweet things at night so recently I have started creating my own, very simple, yogurt parfaits before bed. I just get some of my favorite Greek yogurt, throw in some cinnamon and nutmeg, a little fruit, and a handful of some type of granola (usually just Cheerios because I’m a poor college kid). Lately, I’ve been throwing in a spoonful of PB2 or creamy peanut butter as well. It’s absolutely delicious! The crazy thing is, I don’t even crave sweet treats at night anymore, I crave my yogurt. Now, a parfait may not be your answer, but I encourage you find a sweet substitute that you can have during those dangerous times of your day when you know that you will be craving those Halloween treats… even if it’s just throwing a little sweetener in your coffee!
I hope that you find this battle plan to be as helpful as I have. If you need a little extra help getting through the holiday season healthy and happy, I encourage you to schedule a Free No-Obligation Consultation with us at Elite Nutrition and Performance today. We have the tools to help you succeed.