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Dr. Kim: The Real Horror of Halloween – Sugar!

Written by: Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Kim Feinstein, Red Mountain Weight Loss® Behavioral Weight Loss Specialist

“Every year, starting with Halloween, I witness many of you step on the scale in frustration as it inches up 2-3 lbs, all because you fell prey to a plastic orange pumpkin filled with candy. Halloween marks the beginning of the holiday weight gain cycle, which continues through Thanksgiving and Christmas and can result in an average holiday weight gain of 7–12 pounds! Although candy is in no shortage the other 364 days of the year, binging on “fun-sized” sweets the night of October 31st has proven to be a yearly ritual for people everywhere, dieters or not.” – Dr. Suzanne Bentz D.O., Owner & Medical Director of Red Mountain Weight Loss®

While excusing yourself from the sugar celebration at Halloween may not be fun, neither is coping with a sugar hangover and the accompanied weight gain. In fact, the aftermath of your sugar binge is most likely scarier than the Halloween costumes!

Thankfully, there are ways to keep your hands out of the orange pumpkin so you can avoid packing on extra pounds. Below are some helpful tips that can help you to avoid the temptation of Halloween candy and keep your Halloween healthy!

1. First things first, always purchase candy you do not like. Do NOT buy your favorite candy. This way you will not be tempted to dig in.

2. Do NOT buy any candy until the very last minute. There will be little time to indulge and then you can hand them out quickly! Get rid of all of the remaining candy! Do NOT keep it in your house.

3. If you are a skilled mindful eater (which most of us are not) savor ONE piece of your favorite candy per day. Decide ahead of time what time of day you most crave the sweet treat and save your treat for that time. Then, slowly savor and experience it.

Remember, it is ok to indulge your sweet tooth once in a while, as deprivation is not the solution. Learning mindful eating behaviors is the secret and it takes some practice. However, if you know yourself, and you know you are unable to just stop at one, do not try this exercise yet as it may trigger you to fall off of the wagon. In time, and with practice, you will learn to just have one.

4. Try chewing sugarless gum. Sugarless gum gives you a burst of sweetness for very little calories.

5. Replace candy with healthier choices. Choose to indulge in bowl of fruit or veggies in lieu of the candy. You will thank yourself later.

6. Get creative. Distribute healthier options that children will enjoy, such as Halloween stickers, crayons, pencils, fake tattoos, or even scary Halloween jewelry (i.e, plastic spider rings).

7. Be honest. If you notice you are bargaining with yourself (i.e., I’ll eat the candy and forgo dinner), or if you start telling yourself that you will eat candy today and start eating healthy again tomorrow, you are playing with fire. “Tomorrow” rarely happens and you begin your downward holiday season spiral.

8. Save your empty candy wrappers and count them. Yes… I said count them! It is so easy to go into denial and binge on “fun-size” candy bars. If you save the wrappers, it will keep you out of denial and highly aware of how many you consumed.

9. Manage your hunger by continuing to follow your meal plan. Your pre-planned meals will keep you feeling satisfied and make you less likely to raid the candy bowl.

10. Sip on water or a low calorie beverage. Keep your hands and mouth busy by drinking water or tea.

Here are some scary facts about popular October treats: