Taming the Halloween Treat Monster
As you know all too well, the three months from October 31st to January 1st are the scariest time of the year when it comes to trying to maintain a healthy weight. In the interest of getting off to a winning start that will let you enjoy the holidays but avoid packing on the pounds, here are some tips for keeping your hand out of the Trick or Treat bowl:
* Assuming you already followed the classic strategy of waiting until the last minute to buy the candy corn and "fun size" sweets, you are now still faced with summoning enough willpower to refrain from gobbling before the Goblins and Ghouls and Princesses and Pirates arrive. Unless you're a true sugar addict who can't stop at just one, why not allow yourself a taste or two of the goodies that bring back childhood memories and then brush your teeth and stop right there? Trying to refrain altogether may backfire!
* Don't believe the often-repeated "good news" that chocolate is a health food. As we pointed out in an earlier ThirdAge article based on an interview with Harvard's Eric Ding PhD, you would have to tuck into 8 dark chocolate bars or 33 milk chocolate bars a day to get any benefit from the cocoa. Those indulgences would add up to over 3000 calories for the dark chocolate and over 7000 calories for the milk chocolate. The truth is that although chocolate itself isn't bad for you, the calories and the sugar in chocolate products definitely are dangerous. So once again, savor one or two little Halloween chocolate bars and call it quits.
* Plan a special but sensible Halloween dinner that you can look forward to sharing with friends and family after the doorbell stops ringing. That way you won't want to spoil your appetite by eating sweets between the arrivals of the neighborhood children.
* While you're on candy duty, wear your skinny jeans or any of your wardrobe favorites that fit perfectly right now – or maybe even something that's just a bit snug. The idea is to inspire yourself to aim to pare off instead of packing on pounds this season!
*If candy is leftover as the evening draws to a close, throw it away. Yes, you paid for it and you may hate to see it "go to waste." But as the old adage reminds us, it looks better in the waste bin than on your waist. If your local store has agreed to buy the candy back and you're willing to make the trip the next morning, you could opt for that solution. However, you would then have to maintain your high alert level of willpower even longer!
Of course once you've made it through Halloween, you still have to deal with the rest of the upcoming festivities. The notion that you could promise yourself to lose weight rather than gain it during the holidays may seem counterintuitive, but this ploy that can actually work. In the same way that you can eat a small amount of the Halloween treats rather than avoiding them altogether, you can make a vow to eat mindfully at the Thanksgiving table and later to have only a few hors d'oeuvres at the Christmas parties and sensible amounts of the Christmas or Chanukah dinner fare. Also, if you're the one doing the cooking, chew gum while you're in the kitchen so you won't nibble!
Following some or all of the tactics listed here can keep you from feeling deprived and let you congratulate yourself for being able to eat, drink, and be merry without overdoing it. Then when you step on the scale in January and see that you are no heavier and perhaps even a little lighter than you were back in October, you'll really have a reason to wish yourself a Happy New Year!
Sondra Forsyth is Co-Editor-in-Chief of ThirdAge.com.