Editorial: Halloween, The Nutrition Trap

Halloween Candy in Bowl
Halloween Candy in Bowl

Ways to avoid overindulgence and what to do with leftover candy.

Myth: Halloween is a great time to take a break and eat all you want because a single day does not matter.  Don’t you wish this was true?  I wish the sweet stuff were calorie free and I could eat all the Reese Cups I could stomach — I could make myself sick eating these things.  The fact is that candy is packed with what is mostly empty calories.  These treats are low in fiber and high in sugar and potentially high in fat.  A healthier lifestyle would be to limit your intake of sweets but let’s face the facts that the fun size treats are not very satisfying.   

The best thing for you to do is entirely avoid Halloween, but if you have children, you are not going to do this.  As you head out to Trick or Treat with kids, it is good to have a plan ahead of time to avoid overindulgence.  Even if you are at your goal weight, it is best to have a plan to avoid the sugar, and you don’t need that sugar, fat, or high fructose corn syrup.

Tips to avoid overindulgence:

  1. Have a meal before you head out.  If you eat before taking your kids out, it will be easy to avoid overeating candy.  Heck, you might even be able to resist it completely.  Face it; a candy meal will leave you starving in an hour or two.  
  2. Bring a high-fiber, high-protein snack.  This combination will keep your belly feeling fuller longer.  There is no magic to it, but the fact is the research indicates that fiber and protein increase satiety (fullness).  
Pumpkins filled with assorted Halloween chocolate candy
Pumpkins filled with assorted Halloween chocolate candy
  1. Drink plenty of water.  Our minds sometimes translate thirst as hunger.  Hydration has been proven to assist with satiety.  
  1. Limit yourself then dispose of the rest.  Choose a single serving from the candy haul and stash, freeze, or toss the rest. I can remember finding my candy a couple of months later once.  It was nasty, so I had no desire to finish it.  Heck, just give to some passing kid.  
  1. Wait to purchase candy.  If you are handing out candy to the neighborhood kids, wait until the day of Trick or Treating to purchase the candy.  The less time it spends in your possession, the less time you have to be tempted to munch on some yourself.
  1. Buy candy that you don’t find tempting.  If chocolate is your candy of choice, buy jelly beans, candy corn, or any kind of treat that is not chocolate.  If you find all sweets to be tempting, consider giving small bags of pretzels or popcorn.

The bottom line: Haloween does not need to sabotage your diet.  Make smart choices and avoid candy or at least limit your candy intake.

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About the Author

I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

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