Is there one time of year when more temptation is packed into two hours than Halloween? If you find yourself asking, “How can I keep from eating all the candy?” every year around this time, here are some practical tips.
(Note: some of these ideas can also help you get through the candy deluge that happens around Valentine’s, Easter, and Christmas.)
Here’s a solid plan-ahead tactic: make yourself some healthy treats to have on hand, so you have something sugar-free to enjoy while you’re in close contact with temptation. Here are a few ideas for easy, bite-sized, sugar-free (or very nearly sugar-free) treats:
Consider giving out something other than candy, such as mini packs of trail mix. Or even non-food items like sticker sheets, temporary tattoos, or little bottles of bubbles.
If you do opt for candy, buy only kinds that don’t tempt you.
Don’t buy any until the day of the holiday, so it’s not sitting in the pantry, calling your name.
If just getting the candy from the grocery store to the house unopened is a challenge, ask someone else to pick it up.
You always overbuy, right? Buy less than you think you’ll need. (There are no candy police; no one will come to arrest you if you turn out the light and quit early.)
Speaking of turning out the light: if you don’t have kids in your house, and you don’t love the experience, you can even (gasp!) opt out entirely. Stay in a back room with all the outside lights off. Or go out for the evening. One year, we went out for dinner on Halloween. I noticed that everyone there was like us: too old for trick-or-treating children, and too young for grandkids!
If you’d like to opt out but there are certain kids you want to see, check with their parents to see if you can coordinate a drop-by time so you know you can be there for them.
Decide ahead of time on some healthy but doable boundaries for yourself.
Consider yourself and what boundaries work best for you. If you’re able to eat a little candy and stop, do that, and enjoy your freedom. Consider how many pieces and when you’ll have them, before, during and after the giveaway. You might decide that, through the weekend, you’ll savor one or two pieces of your favorite candy a day. Decide what time of day you’ll limit it to, and eat it mindfully, enjoying it without guilt.
If, on the other hand, you know that even one piece will send you on a binge, abstaining is a good goal. Focus on what you have to gain: imagine how much you’ll enjoy being free from the guilt afterwards.
Say your plans out loud to a supportive friend. One who won’t try to talk you out of it because of their own food-related guilt. However, if your friend gently suggests that your goals may be a bit unrealistic, you may need to listen. 🙂
Starving yourself in the time leading up to the holiday — thinking that you’ll cut back on calories now to compensate for the extra you’ll be consuming — usually backfires. You go in extra hungry and feeling deprived, so you’re more vulnerable to overdoing it. If you’re already filled with good, you’ll be less tempted by the bad. So plan ahead: go into the holiday with a couple of days of eating extra well. Eat nutrient-dense foods with plenty of protein, fiber, and healthy fats; eat till you’re pleasantly full — especially the meal right before the candy parade begins.
Take extra care of your sleep, too, leading into the holiday. Being sleep-deprived also sets us up for poor decision-making.
Enjoy those sugar-free treats you made. Didn’t make any? Alternate chewing sugar-free gum with sipping on your favorite healthy beverage. If you know you just can’t be trusted with the bowl for the evening, ask someone else to take the job.
If, towards the end of the normal trick-or-treating hours, you notice you still have a lot of candy left, start handing out more generous portions.
Did you step over your boundaries? Give yourself grace and move forward with better choices. Don’t get sucked into thoughts like, “Oh well, I messed up — I might as well eat more.” That’s like saying, “Oh well, I dropped my cell phone. I might as well smash it with a hammer!”
Did you stick to your boundaries? Yay, you! Call or text your supportive friend to share your victory.
If you still end up with leftovers, try one of these tactics:
- Throw all leftovers away. Yes, you can do it! Better to have trash in the trash can, than trash in your body.
- Donate it to a local youth group.
- You can also donate it to the armed services. Operation Gratitude will send unopened candy to US troops stationed overseas and to their children at home. Operation Stars and Stripes will send it to service members at home and abroad.
Want to help your kids enjoy the fun without overdoing it? Here’s are some great tips for helping your kids handle treats wisely.
How about you? Got any tricks-for-less-treats of your own?
Pin to share the knowledge — or for your future reference! 🙂