With Halloween coming up, many of us are beginning to start our holiday season with all of the sugary, high-calorie treats displayed at home, work, and social events. As an adult, it is hard to maintain healthy eating habits and proper weight management through New Year’s Day. It is possible, but the first hurdle you must jump through is Halloween.
Halloween as a child represented numerous bag fulls of candy and exciting costumes! My mom would always lay out giant bowls for us to dump our candy in when we got home and one year I think we filled up three of them. I can’t believe I ever made it through most of them without going into a sugar-induced coma. As an adult, I try to focus more on the costumes and spending time with my friends than the candy, but I agree it is very difficult to choose healthy snacks when there is candy on display everywhere! There are candy bowls at work, trick-or-treat candy in the house, and treats given to you by your friends.
It is amazing how just having candy visible and within our reach effects our consumption. A study conducted by Jim Painter PhD, RD, whom is currently the Chair of the School of Family and Consumer Sciences Eastern Illinois University, demonstrated the effect that visibility and convenience have on candy consumption. In his study, he placed a candy bowl in three different locations: on a desk, in a desk, and 2 meters from a desk. When the candy bowl was placed in a desk and not on the desk a 33.3% reduction in consumption was observed and when the bowl was placed 2 meters from the desk, there was a 66.7% reduction in consumption. This study demonstrates the importance of controlling your environment. You are more likely to nibble on candy that is within your reach and eye sight, therefore, take the initiative to place the candy bowl in the office far away from you…. out of sight out of mind!
Here are a few tips to help you avoid eating too many treats this Halloween:
- Don’t buy your treat-or-treat candy until the last minute. It’s amazing how candy and other sweet treats have an uncanny way of calling out your name. It’s almost ghostly.
- Buy only enough candy to hand out. If you buy extra…you know whose belly they will end up in.
- Only buy sweets you don’t like. If you stock up on your favorites thinking you might not be able to resist the temptation. Choosing treats you would not normally eat may help prevent you from indulging throughout the month.
- Hand out non-sweet treats. I just saw some marshmallow and vampire’s blood scented hand sanitizer at Bath and Body Works the other day that would be fun to hand out, however, you may risk getting your windows egged and your home toilet papered.
- Set limits on how much your kids can eat.
- Throw a Halloween party at your house and set out healthier treats like apple slices and let the kids make monsters out of different colored vegetables.
- Let your children pick out five of their favorite candies that they may put in a plastic baggy with their name on in to enjoy one a piece a day for the next week. This will help teach them moderation.
- Get rid of the extra candy! Throw it away, leave it in a college lobby, or take it to work, however, your weight conscious co-workers may not like that option.
- Eat before you attend a party. Having a healthy snacks or nutritious meal prior will help you to keep your appetite in check and prevent unwanted binging.
- Take your own appetizer. Your host will love the thoughtful gesture and your waistline will be thanking you too.
- Limit your intake of alcohol. Try drinking a reduced-sugar hot chocolate or apple cider.
In the workplace
- Hide the candy bowl. Ask co-workers to place candy bowls out of sight in desk drawers, a break room, or in a cabinet. Remember, if the bowl is 2 meters away from you, you are likely to eat 66.6% less a day.
- Don’t punish your co-workers. Bring in healthy Halloween treats like sliced apples, mini pumpkin muffins, or a vegetable tray.
Enjoy your treats, but it in moderation or you’re going to look like the pumpkin above!
Reference: Painter, J., Wansink, B., Hieggelki, J. (2002). How Visibility and Convenience InfluenceCandy Consumption. Appetite 38, 237-238.
Photo couresy of Carrie.