Taking the Scary out of Halloween

Halloween officially kicks off the scariest time of year for our weight. Some of the spooks lurking around the corner seem mild compared to the beckoning candy dish at home or in the office.

With as little as an extra 100 calories each day, most adults can experience the scale creeping upward before they even know it. One hundred calories is approximately how many calories there are in a “fun size” candy bar or two “mini” bars.

In 2006, the International Journal of Obesity found that when food is easy to see, people are more likely to eat it. Every time you see it, you have to make a conscious decision: to eat or not to eat? The more you think about it the more likely you are to eat. Even other cues such as the shiny wrapper on a Hershey’s Kiss or the smell of chocolate can make us salivate.

So what are some tricks to help you beat the treats this Halloween?

Change your “see-food” diet.

  • If you don’t see it you will be less likely to eat it. Try moving the office candy dish in a location that you won’t be walking by it multiple times throughout the day.
  • Fill the candy dish with healthier options such as apples, oranges, nuts or dried fruit. Or try roasted pumpkin seeds or these scary snacks made from fruits and veggies.
  • Try putting the candy in a dish that is opaque and adding a lid. It has been found that people eat more candy when it is in a clear dish.
  • Put off buying your Halloween treats as long as possible or look for non-food treat items to pass out like play dough, glow sticks, and other small toys. You can even choose healthier items to share such as pretzels or goldfish crackers.

Manage your hunger.

  • If you have planned ahead, you will have healthy foods available to you. If you don’t plan ahead, it’s possible that you will fall into the trap of the candy dish.
  • Eat breakfast to keep your metabolism going.
  • Don’t skip lunch or dinner which can lead to mid-day or mid-night snacking.
  • Include protein at your meals to help keep your hunger at bay. As featured in the photo above, try this Vampire Chicken Salad!
  • Stay hydrated, preferably with water, so you don’t mistake thirst for hunger.

Indulge your sweet tooth… within reason.

  • You heard me…go ahead and eat that candy. Here is the trick… you must savor it. Let the candy melt in your mouth and enjoy each moment of the bite. Move it around, let it touch every taste bud. Then, you might find that one piece will do the trick.
  • When one doesn’t seem to be enough, it is a good idea to visually keep track of what you have eaten. Keep the pile of wrappers on your desk so you can account for each piece you have eaten and not go overboard.
  • When you have overindulged, it is time to take the next step… kicking up your exercise. You can burn extra calories by increasing the intensity of your workout routine.

Have a happy, healthy Halloween!

Alicia Allen, RD

Weight Treatment Center at St. Mark’s


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