24 October 2012

how to survive halloween

And, of course, by saying "survive" Halloween I don't mean outrunning ax murderers in painted William Shatner masks or hiding from chainsaws and zombies. No, I'm talking about that part of Halloween that we all loved as children, gorging ourselves on our annual stash of chocolate. Pulling from the plastic pumpkin our loot, rationing out the favorites from the ones we are willing to trade.

Sure, as kids we could get away with such obnoxious and gluttonous behavior, but as adults it's no longer cute. Nor is it exactly smart or waist line friendly. With Halloween exactly one week away and parties this weekend (I'm dressing up as the TARDIS), I figured now was the perfect time to offer some suggestions on how to make this holiday go from scary to sweet.

(I know, so cliched, right?)


Be A Smartie At The Store
When it comes to actually purchasing Halloween candy to pass out, you have two options. The first is to buy some crappy candy that you hate, thereby removing the temptation element. But that's kind of boring and it's not like you have to completely give up all candy for a month.

Which brings us to option two: if you're going to buy, buy smart. While Halloween overloads us with bags and bags of candy every time we go to the store, at least the candy comes in individual sized portions. "Snack size." "Bite size." A "Fun Size" bag of Milk Chocolate M&Ms is only 70 calories & 2 Weight Watchers points! Okay, sure, might not be as cool and exciting as the king sized candy bars you handed out last year, but does a six-year-old really need a king sized candy bar anyway?

Take Control Now (and Later)
Nobody says you have to start stocking up on Halloween candy as soon as the calendar switches to October. Light bulb moment here, but you can't eat what you don't buy. So if you're really worried about breaking into the stash before the first child-sized ghost appears on your front door, then hold off until the last possible minute to buy the candy. May actually end up being cheaper that way, too.

My mom always knew we'd have leftovers so she'd buy stuff she knew my sister and I would happily take and add to our candy collections. That's one option. Another is to take the leftovers to work and give them to your co-workers or friends. Or you can always throw it away. Again, if it's not in your house then you can't indulge. Of course, the ultimate goal is to end up with an empty bowl, so as the night goes on start handing out bigger portion sizes. Might make up for the missing king sized candy bar.


Break Me Off A Piece Of That Kit Kat Bar
As soon as you tell yourself you're not allowed to eat X, then all you want to eat is X. And the longer you go without eating X, the more you're going to crave it. And when you finally do give in to eating X, you'll be so guilt-ridden about eating this thing you're not supposed to eat that you go a little crazy and it's, well, not pretty. 

So give yourself permission to once a day eat a mini candy bar or some other treat that tricks your fancy. Sure, rationing out candy isn't exactly sexy, but how is it any different than using a food scale for your pasta or protein? You might also find that giving yourself permission takes away the temptation. Time and time again I have found that as soon as I tell myself I'm allowed to eat something that normally would have been off-limits, suddenly the food loses all power over me.

That being said, nix the big bowl of candy corn. If you're just mindlessly munching on handfuls of candy, you have no way of knowing how much you actually consumed. Part of not making food a big deal is by treating all food the same. That means keep track of the points or calories just as you would the banana you had with breakfast.

Dealing With the Sour Patch Kids
If you have children, Halloween is the perfect opportunity to teach them healthy eating habits. Like, just because you are randomly given several pounds worth of free candy doesn't mean you have to actually keep it all, let alone eat it. At work I'm constantly faced with bags of bagels and boxes of doughnuts that coworkers bring in but it's not like I see it as a free pass to gorge. Let them keep some, but give (or throw) away the rest.

Use this holiday as a chance to talk about how dessert can easily follow dinner every night if handled properly. This means moderation, not deprivation. Hiding the candy with the "out of sight, out of mind" mentality might seem like a good idea, but all that really does is reinforce the idea that candy is taboo and needs to be avoided. Teaching kids about portion control and a balanced diet with occasional treats is the best way to make sure they grow up with a healthy relationship with food, so that means teaching them how to walk past the bowl of candy without always reaching in to grab some. Speaking of dinner, before they get all costumed up, make sure they have a good hearty dinner that leaves them satisfied. They'll be less likely to start eating their stash before they even make it home.

Don't Be Afraid To Be A Nerd
Guess what? You don't actually have to pass out candy on Halloween. Those mini bags of mini pretzels are a perfectly legitimate choice to pass out. Of course you then run the risk of having your house egged, but, hey at least you won't have to worry about overindulging on leftover candy. But seriously, there's always stickers or gum or popcorn balls. Or, if you really wanna be a rebel, don't pass out anything at all. Turn off your house lights and join your spouse in taking your kid around and consider all that walking bonus exercise.


(Tootsie) Roll With The Punches
Sometimes we overindulge. Especially during the holiday season. And y'know what? That's okay. It happens. You can't expect to be perfect all the time, it's unrealistic. For a lifestyle change to really work long-term, you have to be realistic and that means accepting that sometimes ya fuck up and eat too much candy. Just remember that one bad choice doesn't undo all of the other good choices you've made. Every meal, every day, is another chance to get it right. Remember, we don't need a perfect record, just a winning record

You Are Your Own Lifesaver 
Only you can gauge your candy comfort level and decide if it's better for you to buy the crappy candy and swear off all sugar until November 1st. We are all on our own journeys and that means we all have our own paths to take. This is your journey. That also means you can't just skate through the holiday season(s) and expect everything to turn out okay.

For example: Friday night, my friends and I are gathering for our annual horror movie marathon. Food, naturally, will be present to munch on during the films. I can either leave myself vulnerable to whatever everyone else brings or I can bring a snack to share and guarantee at least one thing I can eat guilt free. It's with that same reasoning that I offered to make dessert for Thanksgiving this year.

One of the (almond) joys of being an adult (sorry, had to throw just one more in there) is getting to set our own terms. Take advantage of that glorious opportunity whenever you can.

Of course, all of this being said, if you do find yourself in a situation where you are being chased by a madman with a chainsaw, I suggest just eating all the damn chocolate that you can 'cause chances are you aren't going to survive until morning so you might as well enjoy your last few remaining hours.

Anyone else have any other advice to share on surviving Halloween?

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

6 comments:

  1. This year I am handing out glow in the dark bouncy balls for Halloween. No candy to tempt me, no allergy risks for kids showing up, and hopefully no egging risk. It is a win win for me!

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    1. The idea of glow in the dark bouncy balls is GENIUS! I would have loved getting one of those as a kid.

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  2. Wow, I think you more than covered the advice. I'm a big fan of the bring it into work policy- we do this with any leftovers people bring to our house for dinner parties, too. I especially loved the advice on using Halloween to teach kids healthy habits, having a 3-year-old and all!

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  3. This year I'm not feeling particularly tempted by Halloween candy... But I will be waiting for your Thanksgiving Survival post :)

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    1. And I am already planning on writing one of those :)

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  4. The candy dish at work + treats my students give me always gets me. My favorite tip was to just have one. It's so hard!

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