The most common thing I hear in the weeks after Halloween is, “I ate too much candy!” It’s something almost all of us have been guilty of a time or two. If you are feeling like you indulged too much this Halloween and are concerned about the potential for further candy binges, this is for you. In this article we will talk about the most important ways to reduce candy cravings and prevent yourself from becoming sick of candy.
Tip 1—Spread It Out
I am a firm believer in moderation and balance. I believe you can enjoy your treats 10 –20 percent of the time if 80–90 percent of the time you follow a healthy plan. This is the old 80/20 rule. Most Halloween candy has an extended shelf life so there is no hurry to gobble it up this week. Take a look at the amount of candy you have and plan out when you would like to enjoy it. The best way to enjoy your treats is to spread them out over time. This way you can look forward to a little bit of a treat over a longer period of time, rather than a whole lot of candy that will leave you with a belly ache.
Tip 2—Out of Site, Out of Mind
In conjunction with spreading your consumption of Halloween treats out over the next few weeks or months it is often helpful to put the treats away where you do not have easy access to them. The more effort it takes to get a snack the less likely you are to actually go and get it. If you carry your treats in your jacket, purse, car, or leave them in a bowl on the table you are putting temptation too close. Keep the stockpile of candy and chocolate out of your view, out of reach, and they will more likely stay out of your mind. And, if they don’t stay out of your mind, at least the thought of getting a step ladder to get them out of a locked pantry shelf may prevent you from actually going to get them.
Tip 3—Eat Preventatively
You may be thinking that the first two tips sound great but they are essentially ways to address willpower. What about something that may actually help my physiology? The most important way to impact your cravings is by “eating preventatively.” What I mean by this is a strategy of eating through the day that successfully decreases your desire for sweet “pick-me-ups.”
Eating preventatively involves eating a meal or snack every 2–4 hours. Each of these meals or snacks contains an appropriate amount and type of protein, carbohydrates, and fat. This strategy is designed to prevent blood sugar fluctuations that lead to cravings. When your blood sugar drops because you ate too much refined carbohydrates or because it’s been too long since your last meal/ snack your body has built in mechanisms to cause cravings for sugar.
Your brain runs off sugar and when your blood sugar goes too low your body shifts into what is called gluconeogenesis. This literally means to create new sugar, and this new sugar comes from your body’s protein structures like bone, muscle, and connective tissue. Think about the timing of when you crave sugary chocolaty treats. Is it when you’ve just eaten a balanced meal or is it when your blood sugar has dropped due to some sort of less than ideal dietary habit.
Halloween and other holidays have a lot in common when it comes to the availability of chocolate and treats. Enjoy the bounty you received this year but do your best to follow these three tips so you look back with fond memories to the treats you enjoyed rather than looking back with horror about the stomach aches you endured.