By Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN
Halloween, the sweetest night of the year, is almost upon us. It’s a night filled with favorite candies and treats, some so sweet and tasty they’re hard to avoid, even despite planning and our best efforts. Many of us may try to avoid candy altogether on Halloween, and it’s possible, but sometimes can be quite a difficult task. Candy and sugar on a night like Halloween can be tough to avoid because it doesn’t only feed our sweet tooth, but it also hits the pleasure center our brains, so it’s seriously powerful stuff.
So despite our best efforts, what happens if you don’t end up skipping the candy, and instead you dive in head first? Is one night of candy really that bad for you?
The short answer is no. It’s not absolutely terrible for you but unfortunately it can be a little more complicated than that. Despite the fact that traditional Halloween candy is loaded with artificial chemicals and ingredients, some that are really quite bad for you, especially these 3 ingredients, the ingredients aren’t the worst part. The worst part of the one night binge is actually the resultant guilt and pleasure that’s caused by consumption of all those sweet treats.
Two major things can happen when we throw ourselves into the plastic pumpkin filled with candy:
Now, with all that said, if you have a good plan set up to pick and choose your favorites, stay on track as much as possible and to let go of candy-eating after Halloween, it really may not be so bad. The most important thing is to have a plan to keep you on track.
Here are a few tips to help you stay on track, even despite some Halloween candy eating:
OK, so it happened. You had some candy, so the best and most important thing you can do is to let it go. Don’t let the act of having the candy travel with you throughout the following days. Try to get back on track with your healthy eating, juice-making choices. It’s the best way to conquer the candy-eating and to move forward.
Aim to avoid skipping meals, and keep good choices on hand to have throughout the day including juices, smoothies (like this Pumpkin Pie Smoothie), protein-packed nuts and fresh vegetables. Making the rest of the choices on Halloween good ones can actually help to keep you on track as well and may also help to keep your hand out of the candy dish.
Halloween treats don’t only have to come from store-bought packages, and instead when made from fresher ingredients can pack a little nutritional punch while being sweet and delicious too. Try a few of my favorites here:
Fluids are key for helping us to maintain satiety. When we don’t get enough fluids, most importantly water, it can leave us sensing hunger, when we’re actually thirsty. If you feel hungry, especially if you feel as though you’ve had enough to eat or just finished a meal, try having a glass of water first.
Movement causes release of the brain chemicals that also make us feel good, called endorphins. Get moving, because it can also be a nice and healthy distraction for all that Halloween candy that may be sitting around, and it’s also a great stress reliever too.
Sleep is key for regulating hunger hormones and helping to keep us on track. When we don’t get enough sleep, especially chronically it can leave us in a scary state because hunger hormones can be affected, leaving us feeling less satisfied by the food we eat. Therefore, leaving us to search for more. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep nightly, or if you cant get consistent hours of sleep, aim to take naps when able.
The take-home: Do the best you can to stay on track, pick and choose your candy wisely, and if you go completely off plan, try to get back on as soon as possible. And finally, enjoy!