My mother grew up in Taiwan eating pickled radish or yam for snacks, and if she was really lucky, some fresh lychees. Her grandmother slaughtered dinner in their backyard, and there was also only one phone in her village that was shared by all the people living there, so you can imagine her shock when I came home from my first Halloween party with two grocery bags filled with candy.
She allowed me to choose one piece of candy from the bags, and then down the garbage shoot went the rest. No amount of tears could change my mother’s heart because the thought of feeding her baby such pure garbage was beyond her comprehension.
Today, Halloween and candy are a large part of American culture and throwing out all that candy is beyond most of our comprehension! Why would we do that? It’s Halloween after all. We also need to make sure we have stocked up on our own supply of treats to pass out.
Some health advocates arm us with healthier alternatives to the candy, but most of us can’t imagine getting away with being the person who hands out raisins to trick-or-treaters who will think you’re lame for even bothering. You might as well have pretended not to be home.
So instead you give in to all the clever marketing and buy the mini bags of candy. We know that because according to the consumer trends and rating website, Bundle, American consumers purchase 600 million tons of candy every Halloween.
Assuming you will be one of those consumers buying the candy, I wanted to give a few tips that are less extreme than my mother’s about how to avoid going overboard, and how to handle a sugar hangover should you happen to consume too much.
If you are trying to maintain a peak health environment in your home or have children with food allergies and sensitivities, then Halloween can really become a nightmare.
Some solutions for celebrating “candy season” without having to deal with a bellyache, bloating, a breakout, or a rash, is to search for candy that is gluten, dairy, soy, and refined sugar free. Your local health food store should have options like gummy candies, fruit snack packs, fruit leather, and gluten-free chocolates.
How to Maintain Control During the Candy Season
Sugar, no matter how you cut it, is addictive. Not only that, it triggers the release of the “feel good” neurotransmitter dopamine, making it very difficult to get off the sugar rollercoaster. Knowing this will help you become more aware and observant of your own behaviors around sugar, and your cravings.
Sometimes, if a craving for sugar is hitting you hard, it can help to tell yourself it is just the addiction talking, and then drink some water, go out for a walk, or call a friend until the craving passes.
It also helps to know that after eating sugar regularly, even if it is just a day or two of indulging in candy, you may get addicted to it and start wanting more of it more often. Rather than indulging your cravings, get off the sugar rollercoaster as soon as possible. Fill your diet with more fruits and sweet vegetables to help fulfill your cravings. After a week or two of staying off the stuff, the cravings will be gone.
That said, if you do opt to indulge in some of the Halloween treats, follow these tips throughout the weeks with candy in your home.
Be sure to build your regular meals with some protein, fiber, and fats such as extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, nuts, or avocado. Maintaining your satiety throughout the day will help you manage your cravings more effectively because when we are hungry our will power inevitably dips. And the protein and fat will help conquer your sweet cravings while the fiber will help manage your blood sugar levels and slow down the toxic effects sugar can have on our bodies.
Hydrate Yourself Well
Drink water, and lots of it. For an added boost, squeeze some lemon juice into the water. Water is great for cutting our appetites, and when we add in lemon we are helping our digestion. Good digestion will help boost our body’s ability to handle toxins, which sugar becomes when we ingest too much of it.
When you exercise, you can handle sugar better because you have burned some of it during exercise, and boosted your metabolism to digest it more efficiently. Exercise can also make you more “body conscious.” Sometimes our mind is telling us we want something, yet our body is screaming out “No!” By becoming more mindful of your body, which movement helps with, you may realize that you don’t actually want the sugar.
Give Yourself Permission and Move On
Feeling guilty for eating one … two … or way too many sweets? What’s done is done. The easiest way to get back onto the health track is to let it go and move on. Take joy in the sweets you ate, or choose to eat, and then eat normally the next day.
Dieters will often try to starve themselves after a day of indulgence, yet the next day our blood sugar levels are bound to be all over the place, so rather than trying to fight your body, allow yourself to eat as much as you need to in order to feel satisfied. But eat meals filled with lots of dark leafy greens (such as kale), good quality proteins, and fats.
Tysan Lerner is a certified health coach and personal trainer. She helps women attain their body and beauty goals without starving themselves or spending hours at the gym. www.lavendermamas.com