Healthy Living

Don't let Halloween candy ruin your week

It’s that time of year again.

The leaves are changing colors and temperatures are dropping.

But it’s also the time for plastic pumpkins filled with candy, counters full of treats at work and the smell of pumpkin spice latte with whipped cream wafting from the neighborhood coffee shop.

For anyone trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy diet, fall can be somewhat intimidating with holidays and carb-heavy offerings at every turn. But, diet experts say there are ways to beat those temptations.

Maintaining a healthy blood sugar level with a balanced diet is one easy way to not get hungry during the day, said Ashley Pearson, a registered dietitian nutritionist at Performance Health and Fitness in North Liberty.

She suggested that by eating balanced meals and snacks throughout the day, you can avoid a drop in blood sugar, which can cause sugar cravings that will make you more likely to give into temptation.

“Having meals and snacks that contain fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains gives you energy and helps to keep you feeling full, so you can avoid a drop in blood sugar,” Pearson said.

Keeping things like Halloween candy out of the house until the last minute can help eliminate temptation, as well, said Alison Demory, a registered dietitian with the Iowa City Community School District.

“Consider not buying candy or other treats until the day before or the day of Halloween. Eliminate temptation,” Demory said.

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“Ask yourself, ‘Am I hungry enough to eat an apple?’ That can be a quick way to gauge your hunger versus eating for other reasons.”

Demory suggested fruits or non-food treats for Halloween can reduce candy temptation for parents and kids alike.

“Apples are delicious this time of year,” she said. “Non-food items such as pencils, temporary tattoos or stickers, can also be a ‘treat.’”

Pearson agreed.

“Non-food items are a great alternative to offer, especially for kids with food allergies,’ she said. “Things like stickers, bubbles, Halloween-themed accessories or activity pads are all good options. For some other food options besides candy: pretzels, dried fruit or fruit leathers, water bottles, or drink packets for apple cider or hot chocolate are fun treats, too.”

Even with healthier options, both Pearson and Demory said indulging in a sweet treat every now and then won’t be a diet breaker.

“‘Everything in moderation’ is a phrase I use often,” Demory said. “Halloween can be a fun memory for children, and it’s OK to let children eat some candy after trick-or-treating. By the second day, consider confiscating remaining candy and serving age-appropriate portions as dessert after meals.”

“People are going to bring treats into work, they always do. It is fine to allow yourself to have a treat you enjoy in moderation,” Pearson said. “Grab a piece of candy, or a slice of a brownie, or whatever it is and enjoy it. Allowing yourself to give into your cravings helps to reduce overindulging. When you restrict and make a food ‘off limits,’ your body will crave it more, and you will most likely overdo it when you have it. So listen to your body, enjoy the foods you like, stop when you are satisfied, and move on with your day. Don’t feel guilty about having a piece of candy, and think your day is ruined, so you eat a whole bag. One piece of candy, even five pieces of candy, isn’t the end of the world. Just get back to eating balanced meals and snacks.”

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