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, but the ingredients aren’t necessarily 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:
- We can end up feeling seriously guilty: Guilt is perhaps one of the biggest issues we face as the guilt we carry can actually drive us to continue to make decisions that we’re not thrilled about, like continuing to eat leftover candy the next day or few days. The guilt can also distract us from our other efforts to be healthy like going to the gym and making other healthful choices.
- The sugar in the candy and resultant guilt can actually cause us to eat more candy: Yes, that’s right, all that sugar hits the pleasure center in our brains – similar to other addictive substances. Sugar consumption can cause release of hormones like dopamine that make us feel good, and want more, especially when one night of candy turns into days worth of it, causing the pleasure center to be stimulated over and over again (see more about what happens to the brain with sugar consumption here. So the bad news is that it can become a gateway for eating more of the sugary stuff along with making other less-than-healthful choices, and ones that we may have been trying to avoid. In short, it can act as a gateway.
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 prevent the halloween candy binge and stay on track (even despite some candy eating):
- Let It Go:
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.
- Make Good Choices the Rest of the Day:
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.
- Let It Go:
- Choose to Make Smarter Sweets:
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:
- Drink Plenty of Fluids:
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.
- Move More:
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.
- Get Enough Sleep:
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!
Post originally written for Reboot with Joe- click here.