Collecting Candy and Eating it Too!
Halloween tends to be the beginning of a series of holidays that are determined to make eating well, consistently, almost impossible.
The haul of candy (or left-over candy that didn’t get handed out), sits around. Tempting you every day. Allowing you to graze on peanut butter cups and sweethearts for weeks or months.
Those weeks turn into Thanksgiving celebrations (in the US anyway).
After Thanksgiving, we have holiday parties and family get-togethers before hitting Christmas and New Year.
Knowing this, having some strategies for handling the first stage (Halloween candy surplus) can help set you up for success as you head into the later parts of the year!
Step 1: Don’t Feel Guilty
If you aren’t training for some really important thing and you need to lean out (like you are a horse jockey and you need to cut weight), you don’t need to beat yourself up for indulging in some candy for a short period of time.
Halloween day, and the next few days, eat the best you can (‘cleaner’ than your normal routine), then let yourself enjoy some of your favorite treats. In the grand scheme of things, this will be a tiny ‘blip’ on the radar. It will not derail your nutrition/body composition goals.
Step 2: Be a Connoisseur
We all have our favorites.
As opposed to leaving all the candy in a big bowl that you dig through looking for what you like, separate out your favorites and keep that. Get rid of the rest or store it somewhere you will not see it (if someone else in the house likes those candies).
The problem with leaving it all together is that you won’t notice how much you are eating (like when you eat chips out of the bag). It also means you’ll be sifting through candies that you don’t necessarily want, but will eat because you can’t find the ‘good stuff’.
Step 3: Get Rid of the Extra
After you have sorted what you are going to keep, determine how much of the good stuff you want around. The goal is only to have enough to last you a few days, up to about a week.
Intuitively, most of us understand that the 4th piece of candy isn’t as good as the first. Where we can get into trouble is when we eat 1-2 pieces 5-10 times per day. Determine your daily limit and save no more than 7 days' worth.
Combine the extra with the stuff you don’t want and donate it to something like the Operation Gratitude program. They take the candy and donate it to Deployed Troops, Veterans, and First Responders. Here is an article with more options.
You may also find something more local to have a better impact in your immediate community.
Step 4: Ration It Out for No More Than a Week
It isn’t the best, but if you want to eat it all in the next day or two, that is fine. Do not freak out about it.
Or you can eat a bunch on day 1, then meter it out over the next few days.
The goal is to ‘run out’ in the next 4-7 days. That way, you’ll have an easier time sticking to your routine until the other holidays kick in.
Bonus Step: (If you have kids and you feel bad about getting rid of all their candy)
If you have the bandwidth (which may not be easy right now), you can use this as a teaching moment.
Have them select their favorites. This will be ‘their stash’. Set the rules around when and how much they can have.
The older (and more responsible) the child, the more lenient you can be. For example, you may want to leave it out on the counter and let them follow the rules while learning how to avoid temptation.
If you are working with younger children, and/or YOU don’t want to be tempted, hide it away so it isn’t ‘front of mind’ every time you walk past it.
The ‘rules’ can be things like:
- After a healthy meal.
- After finishing a chore.
- Only 1-2 per day.
- As a dessert after dinner.
- 1 piece right when they come home from school.
(ACTUALLY… these rules work well for grown-ups too!)
Kids should be fine spreading out their stash for weeks.
In fact, learning how to select ‘quality over quantity’ and how to ‘save for the future’ are powerful life lessons! Encourage them to ‘save up’ and make it last as long as possible (as long as they aren’t starting with buckets of candy)!
If they do end up with buckets of candy in their stash, pick a hard date to donate it so they know when they are going to be cut off (then follow through with it).
Halloween Candy in the House Is a Double-Edged Sword
First, it gets you because it is tons of extra calories in the form of sugar.
Second, it gets you because it can tax your willpower and force you to fight off temptations that normally wouldn’t be there.
Follow the strategies above so you, and your children, can enjoy the bountiful harvest of our little ghosts and goblins without feeling guilty or putting on some unwanted LBs.