What to do with leftover Halloween candy

Is the thought of being haunted by leftover Halloween candy leaving you stressed out? For anyone who has struggled with healthy eating habits and a sweet tooth, this can be a very challenging time of year. But it doesn’t have to be that way. As with most things, the answer to the question of what to do with leftover Halloween candy is BALANCE.

One of the major reasons why we tend to binge on foods like Halloween candy is because we allow ourselves to consume it so rarely. Because of that rarity, our natural inclination is to enjoy as much of it as we can because we won’t be able to again for a long time. We think “well it’s just this time of year so why not?” or “diet starts next week!” or “well I’ve already fallen off the wagon, might as well go all in!”. Do these sound familiar? These are the thoughts that come with deprivation.

So how do you solve that mindset? Give yourself permission to enjoy those sweet treats. Knowing that you can have it whenever you want it, will help quell that urge to get as much as you can while you can. And, as you are able to enjoy your Skittles and Milky Ways in moderation, you will learn to trust yourself with those foods more. The fact is that there is room in any and every healthy diet for candy.

Obviously, this isn’t a change that happens overnight. It’s a process. So here are some tips about what to do with that leftover candy to help you along the way.

1. Give yourself permission

Sometimes when we feel like we’re doing a bad thing, we eat even more than we would have normally. It’s a natural defiant reaction to a perceived threat to our boundaries and autonomy – having our food choices dictated by an arbitrary rule someone else created. Give yourself permission to have the candy you want and remind yourself that you are free to have candy whenever you want to. Having that reminder will help keep you from eating candy until you don’t feel well because you will know it’s an option later on if you want it. Think of it like reversing a scarcity mindset.

2. Enjoy your candy mindfully

If you are going to treat yourself to some much-loved candy, you should actually get to enjoy it, right?! Well, eating it mindfully is the way to do that. What does that mean? In the simplest terms, it means being present while you eat. Not watching TV, not scrolling through Instagram, not driving in your car. It means allowing yourself to focus on the act of eating so that you can notice and appreciate things like: how the candy smells (a critical component of how it tastes!), how it tastes, what the texture is like, etc. This will also help slow down your eating so that you can close that brain-belly gap we experience when we eat too quickly and don’t realize we’re full until it’s too late.

3. Go easy on yourself

Avoid creating rigid rules to follow and beating yourself up for eating candy. It bears repeating: there is room in every healthy diet for candy. And what if you eat the whole bag? So what? It doesn’t mean you’re a bad person or a weak person. And it doesn’t mean all is lost. The best thing that you can do is move on from it and avoid that downward spiral of self-defeating thoughts.

The bottom line is: it’s OK to eat candy and you don’t have to banish it from your house. Empowered eating comes from granting yourself permission to enjoy the foods you love, trusting yourself to do so without going overboard, and remembering that your favorite foods are always an option because you’re not subjecting yourself to arbitrary diet rules.

What to do with the Halloween candy scaries

If the thought of storing several jumbo bags of “fun-sized” candy in your house for the next couple weeks has your despairing, if you’re wondering how you’re going to resist eating your child’s candy loot, if you’re thinking of just skipping Halloween for the sake of your diet altogether, then read on. If not, power to you, but read on anyway in case you know someone this would be helpful to 🙂

Halloween is just the first of several upcoming holidays known to fill our homes with less-than-healthy temptations. From the giant bags of candy you buy to pass out to the trick-or-treaters to the orange bucket of candy your own child brings home, this can be a tough time for those of us looking to watch our waistlines, reduce our sugar intake, or just eat healthier in general. So here are my tips for having fun this spooky season without going off the rails completely.

1.Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Once you’ve bought your stock of candy to give out on Halloween night, don’t keep it out in the open or in an easily accessible location. Each of us probably knows all too well how easy it is to pop open one of those bags for “just a few” pieces of candy and have that turn into needing to go buy more candy. It’s not you and it’s not all just a lack of willpower. Our bodies are programmed to crave those caloric, sugary, fatty foods, especially this time of the year and junk food companies known exactly how to capitalize on that from the ingredients they use all the way down to the packaging.

Take those bags of candy and store them somewhere out of the way and out of your sight until Halloween night (make sure you remember where you put them, of course). It has been proven that when junk food is within our vision or easily accessible to us, we will choose that over healthy options most of the time (even if we don’t really want to). Putting those bags of candy away will help keep you on track and eliminate that extra temptation.

2. Participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project

If candy is your arch nemesis and you would prefer to just not have it in the house at all, then grab a teal pumpkin and hand out non-candy items (like glow sticks, bookmarks, funky erasers, etc.) on Halloween to help include children with food allergies in the spooky fun. This will keep your stress about overindulging at bay and will also benefit kids with food allergies who just want to trick or treat like their friends. Learn more about the Teal Pumpkin Project and register your address online here.  

3. Have some fun and then be done

Life is all about balance and you should absolutely get a chance to enjoy some sweets this Halloween season. The key is setting a stopping point and sticking to it. One of the best parts about Halloween as a kid was always bringing a piece or two of candy with you to school in your lunch box. So I suggest keeping the candy around for just one week after Halloween. Allow yourself and/or your kids, just one or two pieces a day (assuming they’re the “fun size”) and stick to that. Once that week is up, get rid of the candy. You can throw it out (I know, I know) or you can donate it, which is what I recommend because it’s also a great way to teach your kids about helping others and sharing. There are loads of veterans organizations that collect leftover candy to send to troops overseas in their care packages. A simple Google search should point you to one near you.

4. Hand out healthier snacks instead

I know that neighbor tends to get a bad rep, but you could hand out healthier options such as mini boxes of raisins, snack bags of pretzels, or clementines to toss out just a few ideas. Doing this will keep more sugar out of your house and you might actually be doing another parent or child a favor as well.

5. Don’t beat yourself up

Most importantly, if you do overindulge, don’t beat yourself up about it. Getting down on yourself is a recipe for a downward spiral and kicking your own butt at the gym isn’t going to undo it. The best thing you can do for yourself in situations like that is to own that you didn’t do what you had hoped you would and resolve to do better going forward. This is important not just for yourself but for your kids who, whether you know it or not, watch your every move and hear your every word. This is a chance to teach them how to love themselves and have a healthy relationship with food.

 

Bonus advice:

While we’re on the topic of setting an example for our kids, watching the language that you use around food is also really important. Dubbing some foods “bad” or saying they’ll make you fat can very adversely affect your child’s relationship with food going forward and can create feelings of shame around it. So when you’re talking to children about why you’re giving away the leftover candy or limiting how much you eat, I suggest using language along the lines of: this isn’t everyday food so we are only going to have a little and then share with some other people. Foods like fruits and vegetables help keep us from getting sick and help us do better in school, but candy doesn’t do any of those things for us so we don’t need to eat a lot of it. Instead we have a little and we focus on eating more of the foods that help us grow bigger and smarter.