Two days ago I was wandering through Loblaws picking up a few groceries. Normally I avoid the Hallowe’en display knowing that candy is a trigger food for me. That means if I have candy in my home and I eat some of it, I can’t stop at just one serving. That is also why I don’t keep binge-worthy foods in my place. I don’t buy cereal, fluffy bread, or ice cream unless it’s an individualized serving. The other day however I remembered I’d promised the girls in my apartment building that I would provide some candy for the trick or treaters. I thought, I’ll buy a box and not open it until the 31st. Then there was a brief moment when I thought; maybe this isn’t a great idea.
You can guess what happened next. I swear to God at 9 p.m. that box of treats started calling my name. Before I knew it, “I’ll just have two,” turned into six treats. Being a dietitian I immediately looked up the damage.
Here’s the breakdown: 1- (15 gram size) of plain M&Ms contain 9 grams of carbohydrates x 6 = 54 grams of carbohydrates / 4 grams (to give tsp of sugar) = 13.5 tsp of sugar. Wait, what?! That’s more than a 12mL can of Coke, which weighs in at 9.75 tsp of sugar.
Hallowe’en unofficially marks the beginning of the holiday feasting season and for anyone trying to watch her weight the scariest part of Hallowe’en is the ever-abundant Hallowe’en candy. Sugar is the main ingredient in candy (yea, I know this isn’t news to you) and the truth is most women over 40 have a hell of a time processing sugar. Not only does this type of sugar cause midsection weight gain it also affects mood, sleep, and stress response.
Those cute little fun-sized candy bars seem harmless – and they are, if you can limit your consumption, but if you’re anything like me that type of control is just not feasible.
Let’s do the math. If you eat 6 mini Hallowe’en treats every day in the month of October you will add an additional 438 kcal per day for the entire month. Looking at calories alone this will lead to a potential weight gain of 1-2 pounds per week for 4 weeks. That’s 4-8 pounds in one month, most likely right around your midsection! Knowing what I know about weight loss it takes a lot more effort to lose those pounds than it does to implement a strategy which prevents it in the first place.
Here are 5 Nutrigal tips to help you avoid the temptation of Hallowe’en goodies.
1. Buy candy you don’t like (not even possible for me) or don’t buy candy until the last minute for your trick or treaters. If you have leftovers (ha!) take them immediately to the trash. If you’re worried about wasting the candy reframe your thoughts about it. If you don’t put them in the garbage, where are they going to end up? Don’t fool yourself. You are not a garbage can, and your health will cost you in the long run. If you must, give the leftovers away to someone who doesn’t have an issue with sugar (something I did two nights ago). Only one out of my three neighbours said she didn’t have an issue with sugar. She is now the keeper of the candy.
2. Out of sight, out of mind. A well-known researcher Brian Wansink and his colleagues studied the psychology behind what people eat and how often they eat it. One study found that women eat more than twice as many Hershey Kisses when they are in a clear container on their desk than when they are in an opaque container on their desk — and even fewer when the chocolates were six feet away. If you must have candy in your house, take it down to the basement and hide it. Again if you’re anything like me this strategy may not work so it’s better to get the treats out of the house entirely.
3. On October 31st go out and purchase a regular-sized chocolate bar or your favorite treat. Wait until all the kiddies have come and gone and then savour your favourite candy. Sit back and slowly appreciate the taste sensation. Eat it mindfully and guilt-free.
4. On Hallowe’en be sure to eat a full dinner. If it’s a busy night for you make a crock pot meal the day before so you get plenty of protein and veggies to balance your blood sugar. You won’t be as tempted to dip into the candy bowl. Try to focus on the kids and their costumes and the fun of the shelling out.
5. If you do find yourself mindlessly eating candy, count up the empty wrappers. It’s too easy to pop fun-sized candy bars into your mouth and to lose track of how quickly the sugar calories are adding up. This is exactly what I did the other night. I was even tempted to hide the evidence – from whom exactly, I wonder – I live alone!
So there you have it. My 5 Nutrigal tips for avoiding unnecessary weight gain during the Hallowe’en season. Not so scary after all, enjoy!