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Friday, October 30, 2009

How to avoid Halloween candy nightmares

Halloween Candy
It's one of the scariest times of year...no, not because of the ghosts and the goblins...because of the Twix and the Reese's peanut butter cups, of course! Yes, it's nearly Halloween, and where there's Halloween, there's candy. And where there's candy, there's (usually) a tendency to overindulge. Last year, I was sucked into the vortex that is created by having my favorite candy in the house. I was tempted again at Easter (see "Escaping from a cycle of bad eating"). This year I'm determined to avoid it, and I'm going to share five strategies I am going to use, in hopes that they will help you do the same.
  1. Limit it. Look, I get it. Your favorite candy is in the house, and you feel like you've worked hard enough to "earn it." And everything is fine, in moderation. So set reasonable limits. For example, allow yourself to have one piece of your favorite candy during each of the next three weeks. After that, we're close to Thanksgiving (and desserts), so it's best to pick just three pieces and move on to #2.

  2. Purge it. If it was a particularly light year for trick-or-treaters, you might have candy leftover from your handouts. This can be a dangerous thing, especially if you, like many people, buy your favorite candy to distribute. So get rid of it. Throw it out, take it to work, do whatever you want. Just don't keep it in the house.

  3. Trade it. If you have kids, throwing out the candy gets more complicated. Once they're old enough to understand what's happening, in fact, you might as well forget it! One strategy that worked for us was to trade candy for something else they like. I've used money ($0.25 per piece of candy), and my kids like to have something to put in their piggy banks, so this works great for us. Some of my friends let their kids pick a small number of candies (1-2 per year of age) and then trade the rest for a toy, an ice cream outing, or a fun activity like going to the movies or bowling. Plus, if your kids know exactly how many pieces of candy they have left, you will not be tempted to eat a piece and incur their wrath!

  4. Limit it (again). This time, the limits are for the OTHER people in your house. It's easy to get into the candy when everyone else it eating it all of the time. In our house we have a two-treat limit per day. My kids usually have a treat at lunch, and then one more treat at home, either after school or after dinner. Halloween candy counts, so if they're only eating one piece a day in my presence, I can handle that.

  5. Hide it. Those three pieces of your favorite candy you held on to (in #1)? Don't leave them in a bowl on the counter. Just seeing them will make you more likely to eat, even if it's not the candy. Instead, hide them in a brown paper bag on the top shelf of a pantry or cabinet. When it's your scheduled treat day, you'll be able to find them, but the rest of the week, you won't have to look at them and salivate.

Since Halloween is just a day away, I'll leave you with just one parting thought. When you're sorting through the candy, if you find yourself tempted to set aside the "healthy" treats for yourself, STOP. Don't kid yourself. Peppermint patties are lowfat. Reese's peanut butter cups are trans-fat free. Dark chocolate has antioxidants. Guess what? That doesn't mean you get a free pass to eat them all day long. I've already said you can eat them IN MODERATION. But don't eat a piece of candy because you think it's better for you than something else. Eat the one you like best on your scheduled day and move on. Don't be fooled by good marketing.

Hope you have a happy (and healthy) Halloween!

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