Halloween has become a strange holiday. I like to say it is a “Society-Sanctioned Candy-Eating Holiday!” On this day our society tells us we should buy lots of candy and eat lots of candy! Unfortunately that’s not so good for many of us!
Here are some ideas I share with my clients–to help cut down on the likelihood that they will overindulge on candy this Halloween.
- Buy candy you hate–but children love. This makes it very easy to not overindulge yourself. Personally I do not like “Nerds” or “Smarties” candy. Maybe if I had no other food I would eat them, but normally they do not tempt me one bit! If you buy candy you don’t like, it can sit there forever and not be a problem for you!
- Just buy enough candy for the children in the neighborhood that you actually know. This is a very sane approach. Count the number of children you think will come trick-or-treating and buy enough candy for them. If you see a parent of some children you know, ask them if they will be coming by your house so you can be ready. Or tell children you know to come by early–so you can give them candy and then turn off the porch light.
- Don’t pass out candy this year. That may sound harsh and Scrooge-like, but there is nothing that says you must give out candy. Most of the children that come into my neighborhood are not people I know–so sometimes I don’t want to give candy to “everyone in the world.” Also, in my neighborhood, very few people are actually home and giving out candy–so I don’t always want to be the only one who is! Go outside and walk around and see if many of your neighbors have their lights on. If not, you might not feel you have to either.
- Buy a small amount of candy children really like. Hand out just a few pieces of popular candy to each child so that you don’t have to buy a lot of it. As the night goes on, if you don’t get many trick-or-treaters, start giving out more candy to each child–to get rid of it so you don’t “have to” eat it! When you run out, turn off the porch light and blow out the jack-o-lantern.
- Keep track of how many trick-or-treaters come to your house. Then, next year, you can use this as a rough guide for how much candy to buy. I have done this for several years and it is always about 30 children and they come between 5:00 PM and 7:30 PM. So, I buy enough to give each child 2 or 3 pieces, and 30 X 3 = 90 pieces–so that’s all I buy. After 7:30 PM, the big teenagers without costumes start coming around–and I’d rather not answer the door for them! Their candy-induced hypoglycemia can be a bit scary!
- Give the children something other than candy. That way, you don’t need to have any candy around the house at all. Some people give out boxes of raisins, coins, fruit leather, gift certificates, pencils, stickers, and glo-lights. But it’s probably not a good idea to offer them a glass of punch or a piece of fresh fruit–or you may find that thrown through your garage window! We discourage children from eating homemade treats from people–so no matter how delicious your homemade food is–children are told not to eat it. If you give them something too weird, you may find your house “egged” or covered in toilet paper–so be careful!
- Don’t buy your candy too early. This year I think I saw Halloween candy for sale right after kids went back to school in the fall. No matter what price it is selling for–don’t buy it more than a day or two before Halloween!
- Don’t get tricked into buying more because it’s on sale or a good price. Candy companies play all kinds of games with how much candy they put in their bags for sale. And, they make several different bag sizes for different kinds of stores. The first time I set foot in a Wal-Mart, Halloween candy was only $2 a bag–but the bag was a little smaller than what was sold in other stores. It was awfully tempting–but try to avoid this “trick!”
- Don’t buy too much variety. Just buy one or two different candies. Studies have shown that we humans are curious beings and will eat more food if there is a large variety of colors or foods. We want to taste some of everything! So–if you have 10 different candies and you want to taste them all, you may end up eating a lot of candy. Keep it simple! You will eat less candy if there are fewer varieties to choose from.
- Decide ahead of time how much candy you are going to eat. Be very realistic, but controlled. You can also decide how much candy you will eat over a certain amount of time. Like “Every hour I will eat 1 piece of candy” or “I will eat a total of 3 pieces of candy all night.” Deciding ahead of time and sticking to it is possible. When you eat it, eat it slowly. Sometimes people want to eat more because they ate it so fast they don’t remember what it tasted like! Savor every bite and pay close attention to it. See if it tastes as good as you remember it did–and if not, don’t eat any more of it! Enjoy what you do eat, though, so you do not feel deprived…feeling deprived is another common reason for overeating!
Have a Happy Halloween!
Some additional Halloween fun: Pumpkin Carving Artwork: