How to enjoy Halloween candy without going overboard

Oh it’s Halloween time again. As a kid I used to look forward to dressing up in a costume… not once but three times so I could go around our block three times to get candy from our unsuspecting neighbors. First I’d go as an Indian, then put on a full mask costume like a devil or ghost, and then later in the night sport out a zombie or full cat face.

During the first pass, I’d review who had the best candy and in the second and third pass just hit the neighbors who had my favorite candy only. At the end of the night I’d have the pile of candy out of my pillowcase and sort them on the floor with my brother, negotiate and trade basically anything for a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. I remember my dad pulling out all the dark chocolate because as a kid I thought it tasted horrible. Do you remember when the only dark chocolate was Hershey’s Special Dark?

Lots of adults find themselves reaching into their children’s candy bags despite the fact they didn’t take the time to find a costume or walk around the neighborhood to get a single piece. As an adult though I avoid most sugary candy to both save my teeth and keep my cortisol levels regulated. Halloween can be a risky time for parents whose eyes glaze over and the uncontrollable candy-eating binge begins. Although they didn’t go off in a costume to get it, either the candy they bought for trick-or-treaters weeks before are somehow consumed before the 31st even comes or they stash their kids candy and help them eat it over the next month.

If you find yourself struggling to maintain your weight or you can’t help yourself with the unwrapping process of all that candy, here are my top five tips to quell the sugar coma, highs and lows this season and select the best choices of candy to eat:

  • Wait to buy your candy until the 30th if you buy it for the kids headed to your door the next day. Be indulgent and give everyone two so there’s not much left for you to ingest later.
  • Buy candy you DON’T love. That way you are more inclined to not have your eyes glaze over as you take piece after piece from the bowl intended for trick-or-treaters.
  • Cinnamon gum is a great chew to stop your sugar cravings. It’s the only type of gum flavor that doesn’t tend to have aspartame in it and can signal your brain that you are full just like real cinnamon.
  • Eat apples instead of candy. But if you do have to pick from your kids selection, savor only one piece a day.
  • Sit down, enjoy it, allow yourself to experience the flavor and make it a special treat. Don’t just grab some and go.

One final thought on candy is selecting those that have under 100 calories, 10 grams of sugar, and ideally around 5 grams of fat. That way you can treat yourself without wrecking your good food habits.

  • Dark Chocolate: Hershey’s Special Dark miniatures have some benefits because all dark chocolate has antioxidant benefits. Of course if you can find some better brands I’d go and look for them. But two of these minis have less than 90 calories and around 5 grams of fat.
  • Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Miniatures Dark: Once again, a little fat, and the dark style also has antioxidant benefits. Two of these is about the same calories and fat as the Hershey’s Special Dark, but they have a little more sugar, just shy of 10 grams—still a better choice than Skittles.
  • Peanut M&M snack size bag: Because they are natural peanuts, (and they do have these in dark chocolate if you can find them) it’s the same calories and fat as the others above.
  • York Peppermint Patties: These are my favorites and also have limited calories, fat, and they too are made in a dark chocolate version.
  • Mounds or Almond Joy (dark chocolate style): I’m sure you are getting my theme here. Stick to these small bites that have dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate. Less sugar overall and these too have the same relative calories.

Finally, my favorite is Tootsie Pops because I can savor them longer. Remember the commercial “How many licks does it take to get to the center of the Tootsie Pop?” Suck on them. Don’t bite them. It can help curb your hunger because you can enjoy them longer than a piece of candy. As always, I hope you enjoy the fun of this eating frenzy season that is in full swing.

Next up next month, Thanksgiving. I’ll be giving you some good tips for limiting the stuffing to the turkey instead of your belly.

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