Jennifer Lovejoy, Arivale Chief Science Officer, PhD
Americans spend about $2.6 billion on candy each Halloween. That’s a lot of sugar.
With all of the sweet treats around this time of year, it’s very easy to eat just one, and then maybe one more for the road, and then a small one with lunch, and so on.
When you eat a high amount of sugar, a few things happen:
- Your brain releases dopamine, which feels good for a time, but after it wears off you’ll crave more. This is why it’s difficult to only eat one piece of candy.
- Also, your pancreas releases insulin, which proceeds to absorb the extra glucose. However, once it’s done, your blood sugar levels drop because of the excess insulin. This is why you get that sugar crash.
- Any glucose your body does not convert into energy gets stored as fat cells.
For most, one sweet every now and again won’t wreak complete havoc on your wellness, but how do you keep a one-time indulgence from becoming a habit?
Our recommendation: Enter the Halloween season with some defined, easy-to-follow rules, so you can enjoy the holiday while staying faithful to your wellness goals.
1. Set Yourself Up for Success
If you have a bowl of Halloween candy within reach, it’s going to be hard to resist eating the candy. Replace the candy bowl in your house or on your desk with a bowl of roasted pumpkin seeds. It’s still festive, but packed with fiber, magnesium, and other important nutrients.
Here are some recipes the Arivale Coaches recommend, all of which you can make from your carved pumpkins’ leftover seeds!
2. Eat a Balanced Breakfast
Your body’s insulin resistance is typically at its lowest point in the morning. Eating a nutritious breakfast not only primes your body to utilize the food you take in as energy, rather than storing it as fat, the glucose also plays a crucial role in your brain’s ability to make decisions and regulate self-control. In other words, eating a hearty breakfast could help you resist temptation later in the day.
3. Substitute Your Cravings
If you’re craving a sweet treat, you may want to think about reaching for a filling, nutritious alternative. In place of a Butterfinger, consider grabbing some Greek yogurt, peanut butter, and cocoa powder. The protein from the yogurt and peanut butter will fill you up, without all the unnecessary processed sugar.
4. Hand Out Non-Edible Treats
If you’re expecting trick or treaters this year, consider swapping the bags of candy (which you’re sure to have leftovers of) for non-edible treats, such as glow sticks, stamps, crayons or bubbles. This will allow you to avoid the temptation altogether, while still giving the neighborhood kids something to get excited about.
5. Have a Plan For Your Kids’ Candy Bounty
Whether or not you have candy in the house, if you have trick or treaters in the family, you’re likely to end up with more than your fair share come October 31.
To rid the house of temptations (and ensure your kids still get a reward for their hard work), Arivale Coaches suggest looking to see if there are candy buy-backs in your area. Your kids can sell their candy and earn a few extra bucks to buy a special present. Some dentists are also known to participate in candy buy backs, so contact yours to see if they are participating.
6. Focus on Your Favorites
Having a scarcity mindset, like trying to avoid all sweets, can actually make you more likely to binge on candy. Focus on what sweets you (and your family members) really are looking forward to this season. Have everyone pick their top favorite—maybe it’s Almond Joys or Reese’s—and make a goal to stick to that one. By limiting your options, you can make it easier to prevent yourself from going for every temptation in sight—since there will be many.
Don’t be afraid to enjoy your favorite treats this season … within reason. Set yourself up for success, stay true to your wellness goals, and celebrate the holiday on your own terms. Happy Halloween!