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Don’t be the raisin house on Halloween!

Week 5 of “Health for the Holidays!” and we’ve been laying some important groundwork for the coming holiday season. Here we are at the end of October and it’s Halloween!

There’s something about this holiday that brings us back to childhood and fills us with memories of trick-or-treating, collecting a huge bag full of candy, dumping it out when we got home, sorting it into categories and eating our favorites first. It seems Halloween was made for excess, but if you’re battling your weight there’s no better time to make some important decisions about how to handle this food challenge. It’s possible to enjoy the festivities without enduring the misery of overindulging and the accompanying guilt and weight gain.

There are several ways in which Halloween candy is a challenge. First, you must break one of my unbending rules of weight loss: unhealthy food is gonna cross your threshold! That is, you’re gonna buy the damn candy and have it in your house! If you’re like me, this is a problem. How many times in years past did I rationalize buying the Halloween candy weeks in advance (it was on sale, I had a coupon) only to eat most of it myself? Had to make another trip to the store to buy more too. Don’t try to tell me you haven’t pulled that stunt, cause I know you have.

The only way I know to avoid that debacle is just this: I only buy candy that I don’t like. What I mean is, I buy candy that I won’t overindulge in. For me, lollipops, Jolly Ranchers, Twizzlers, Sweet Tarts – stuff like that – are good choices because the kiddos still like them, but they don’t call to me in the middle of the night. The ones that call to me are the sugary/salty/fatty calorie bombs like Reese’s, Snickers, Milky Way, etc. I must avoid having these in my house at all costs because I simply cannot resist them. Remember, willpower is crap. It will fail you every time. The only thing that works is knowing your weaknesses and planning ahead.

That’s how we deal with the candy we pass out, but what to do when your own little darlings get home and open Pandora’s Box – that is, they dump the contents of their goody bag out on the kitchen counter? Their excitement is contagious, but it’s also an important moment of decision. Decide ahead of time what your mom or dad “tax” is gonna be and then stick to that. My absolute favorites are Almond Joy and Mounds, precious few of which are given out anymore (does nobody else like coconut?!?). Lucky for me, my kids don’t like these so I confiscate them.

And I eat them.

Right then.

Maybe “inhale them” is more descriptive.

There are usually no more than 3 or 4 of the “fun size” bars in the heap. Typically I’ve had a very light dinner that night, in anticipation of the chocolate windfall. This way my total calorie intake is still within my normal daily range. Is eating a bunch of little chocolate bars for dinner my best possible nutritional choice? No, of course not! But telling myself I’m not going to have any Halloween candy is unrealistic and sets me up for either a sense of deprivation or failure.

Halloween candy presents challenges on many levels for those of us who want to live healthfully. We need to manage what comes into our house and what we decide to pass out. We also need to manage how long we let this stuff linger on our kitchen counter, but more on that next week!

In the meantime, keep tracking your calories on Fooducate and doing your 37.5 minutes of cardio 6 days a week. (Yes, I bumped you up by another 2.5 minutes this week. Oh, quit grumbling!) Also, check in every night when your head hits the pillow and decide whether you’ve done the best you could possibly do for yourself that day.

I know the diet gurus and health food purists will tell you that sugar is the devil’s work and you should pass out healthy treats to the kiddos who show up at your house. But in the history of trick-or-treating no kid has ever walked up to a door and thought to himself, “Gee, I hope they’re giving away raisins at this house!” They want candy! Heck, we all want candy!

Don’t be the raisin house.

Successful weight loss happens when you find ways to enjoy special holiday traditions and treats without derailing your healthy living goals. Give yourself permission to indulge (a little bit) every once in a (great) while and you’ll find that these little treats can be just that, “little treats.”

Losing weight is hard, but it gets easier. And you’re so worth it!

Let’s go get it!

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