Research assistance provided by Kara Quillard.
I've decided those all the fun-size bars my son collects at Halloween are going to go bad on Thanksgiving. Of course, the candy is created to survive the Armageddon. But he won't know that, and I am pretty sure I can fool myself into believing it. A month is plenty of time to dole out the loot and anything that remains, even if it is stale-ish licorice or off-brand imitations of the good stuff, will just be a temptation I don't need.
Setting your own expiration date on Halloween candy is a good strategy, says Mary Hartley, RD, so long as it makes you feel in control.
"But remember," Hartley warns, "the candy isn't yours. It belongs to the kids."
All bets may be off when it comes to Halloween candy ownership or "best if eaten by" date. So maybe the cold, hard calorie facts will keep your candy snacking in check.
Butterfinger bars in the mini-size are 85 calories each, Hartley reveals. Skittles ring in with the lowest calorie count at 40.
Perhaps tallying the count of a one-night binge is enough to keep you from ever opening the plastic bag. Or, you could opt to buy lower-cal candy that will pack half the punch of Butterfingers.
No matter whether you choose to buy big bags of small bars or the candy ends up in your house from a kid's treat bucket or well-intended neighbor, here are more tricks to keep you from overindulging this holiday.
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Buy candy at the last minute
"Plan to run out of candy," Hartley says, who advises buying candy at the last possible minute to minimize your exposure to it. "Don't over-buy. If it's getting late and you still have a lot, give the stragglers a hefty treat!"
Give out sugar-free trinkets that really are a treat
Of course, you don't want to be that house, where the lady his handing out baggies of baby carrots or toothbrushes. But you can slow the flow of candy in and out of your home by choosing to give trick-or-treaters glow sticks, googly-eye stickers, gum or other silly trinkets that kids will love.
Set yourself up (on the porch, near the door, at a party) for success
Are you in charge of handing out candy to kids? Prep a few bottles of water dressed up with slices of fruit, cucumber or lemon to drink. Create a delicious tray of veggies and hummus or fruit with yogurt for dipping. Keeping your mouth and hands busy will mean you are less likely to dig into the candy bowl and more likely to fill up on healthy foods. Same applies for Halloween parties -- stand near the veggie side of the buffet and resist alcohol. Drinking will only make it easier to indulge in the candy that is sitting out.
Beware long after Halloween eve
Trigger times for overeating are not just on Halloween night, but also when co-workers bring in leftover candy to work, or stale candy sits out on the counter.
Set a date to pitch the candy. "It could be as soon as the day after Halloween," Hartley says. "or it could be as late as some time in the future when the stale candy is tossed along with a decent cleaning." If you can't quickly donate it or give it away, just put it in the garbage and be done.
Prepare your body and mind to avoid temptation
Think you're craving candy? You may just need a solid meal and a bit of exercise. "If you are physically hungry (vs. 'hungry' in your mind), then you might not have eaten enough food at supper," Hartley says. "Try to eat enough to stay full for 4-5 hours. Likewise, people who don't exercise have a bigger appetite than those who do. For appetite control, be sure to get enough exercise. But if you are actually physically hungry, then do prepare a mini-meal of wholesome foods and sit down to eat it mindfully."
Don't try to fool yourself
"You could 'hide' candy in the freezer," Hartley concedes. But this method isn't fool-proof. "Chomping on frozen candy will break a tooth! But, honestly, why play games? If you're going to eat Halloween candy, then adjust for it, and then eat only the candy you truly love, slowly and mindfully without distractions. If you can't eat candy in a reasonable way, then give it to the food bank or toss it in the trash."
Put candy away
If you choose to keep candy in the house, tuck it in a cupboard or fridge where other food is kept. This way, the treats aren't stashed somewhere but they also aren't sitting out in plain view, making it too easy to grab and gulp. "There should be no mindless eating - ever. All foods should be eaten slowly, while seated, with your full intention. It is very important to make that committment," Hartley says.
What tricks really work for you to avoid Halloween candy overindulging?
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