How to Indulge but Not Overdo.
Fuddy-duddy alert! Not for kids, because I’m not about to take on them and their Halloween candy. You’re on your on with that. But for us adults. I can handle your backlash and honestly, I feel like I need to share some of the difficult lessons I’ve learned stemming from Halloween candy overindulgence over the past year. As I’ve learned, the scariest thing about Halloween candy for adults is the amount of added sugar and sweeteners. While this certainly isn’t good for kids either, again, I’m focusing on the downward spiral that Halloween candy can trigger in us as grownups and how we can indulge but not overdo.
My Scary Story
I have been able to eat Halloween candy in very moderate amounts for years. Maybe a couple of pieces on Halloween night, and that was it. The bowl full of leftovers, and my son’s bucket didn’t phase me. I hardly have any added sugar these days, so it usually doesn’t take much for me to get to my sweetness limit. But for some reason, my resolve wasn’t what it usually was last year, and I had quite a few pieces on Halloween night. I remember eating a couple and thinking, “That was really good.” And then eating more.
The next day, I had about the same amount. Not just a couple of pieces. And then the next day, the same thing. Each day, I would say that I was going to get rid of the rest of it after I ate a couple of pieces – that I just needed it that day to help get me through the afternoon. But I never did. Unfortunately, it had been a slow year for trick-or-treaters, and we had a lot leftover.
The problem was, the extremely sweet tooth that I had been successful at tempering for the previous years had been stimulated big time with that first night of candy, and before I knew it, I was hooked on sugar again. The even bigger problem – Halloween leads into the holiday season, and if you’ve got an overactive sweet tooth, you’re pretty much doomed for the next two months. Then, as it’s happened with me, it could take the next nine months to get your eating habits back to where you want them to be.
Why Is Added Sugar Bad for You?
Foods such as fruits and vegetables naturally contain sugar. These aren’t the ones that you usually need to worry about. It’s the sugar or sweeteners that are added during processing that we need to look out for. According to Mayo Clinic, eating too many foods with added sugars can set the stage for weight gain and heart disease as well as diabetes.
In addition, if you’re eating too much added sugar, then you may not have room for the foods that actually nourish you. Or, if you do eat those as well, you’re probably going to exceed the recommended number of calories that you should be having each day. It’s important to remember that added sugar really has no nutritional value other than supplying lots of calories. Yes, your body can use it for energy but if you’re not getting other needed nutrients with it, Mayo Clinic says that it can lead to poor nutrition.
In fact, Integrative Nutrition Health Coach Karima Shariff says that one of the reasons that we might crave sugar is that we’re not getting enough calories, so our body wants that quick energy that sugar gives us. Which probably leads to how I ended up relying on the Halloween candy to give me my afternoon energy boost. Instead of indulging, I should have been looking at what else I was and wasn’t eating at the time, and figured out, as I’ve done now, what other nutritious foods can give me that boost or sustain me for longer.
The Amount of Added Sugar in Popular Halloween Candy
To find out exactly how much added sugar is in some of the most popular types of Halloween candy, I went straight to the source. Note: this was all based on reading nutrition labels through in-store research. I did not need to bring home bags of Halloween candy in September.
** I did find that a different mix showed the Kit Kat Wafer Bars with 12g added sugars.
How to Indulge but Not Overdo
For most of us, it’s fine to indulge in a few pieces of Halloween candy, but the secret is not overdoing it. Here’s how I’m planning to navigate these tricky waters this year.
- Don’t buy loose bags of candy. We don’t need them, and despite what both of my dear grandmothers thought, we don’t need a candy bowl. This is a trap, or at least in my house it is. As far as I’m concerned, candy corn doesn’t come in 1-2 pieces. It’s a handful (or two) or nothing. Just in case you were wondering, there are 15 pieces of Brach’s classic Candy Corn in a serving which includes 22g of added sugars.
- Let yourself eat 3-4 pieces or whatever a serving size is indicated as in the above table on Halloween night. Pick your absolute favorites and then stop for the night.
- Choose no more than seven pieces of candy to have for the next week. Eat one piece a day if you want or even better, don’t eat it if you don’t want it. The point is that at most, give yourself one week of Halloween candy, one piece at a time. After that week, Halloween is done, over, time to move on.
- If you’re rationing candy for your children, put it out of your sight as well. When you get it for them, do it with them watching you. Yes, they will know where it is, but let’s be honest, they’re going to anyway. Doing it this way, will make it easier for you not to sneak any either.
- If you’re going to a Halloween party or if you’re taking your kids trick-or-treating, eat a regular healthy meal before you go. That way, you’re not hungry and are less likely to scavenge all night on candy.
Of course, if you know that sugar cravings are a problem for you, you may just want to steer clear of the Halloween candy entirely. There’s plenty of research that shows we can become dependent on, if not addicted to sugar, and just like any other addictive substance or activity, the best option is avoidance. Just don’t even put the temptation in front of you. If you do end up with candy duty, do it with a friend or have your spouse, partner or older kids help you so that you can interact with them and not the candy bucket.
Lean on Your Community
Is Halloween candy tough for you? If so, we’d love to hear from you and how you handle it in the comments below. If it’s not hard for you, please share your secrets on how you do that as well.