Trick or Treat? We’ll gladly take the treat, which can absolutely be a part of a healthy lifestyle. So why then does everyone seem to lose their minds over candy (that happens to be available 365 days a year) on Halloween?
As adults, we can still enjoy the fun nature of Halloween without falling victim to the never-ending cauldron of candy. Yes, you can have candy, but what is the best choice? And how many pieces is a reasonable amount?
Before we answer these questions, it’s important to understand one’s relationship with food and state of mind when dealing with “trigger” foods. A trigger food is one, like candy, that is difficult to limit and leaves one with feelings of guilt and remorse after eating. Many times, people try to put limits on how much they will eat (say, one piece), which can lead to feelings of restriction or deprivation. This, in turn, can subconsciously encourage one to eat more, leading to feelings of failure. Once a negative emotional state is reached, people might soothe themselves with more candy. Does this sound familiar? We call this the Failure Cycle, which can feel like you’re stuck in a whirling vortex unless you know how to break free of it or prevent it from happening in the first place.
So how should you approach this whole candy situation? First, give yourself permission to eat it! Once you take the stigma or label away from the candy, it no longer has an aura of naughtiness around it and will have less of a hold on you than before. When you do eat the candy, be mindful and really taste and enjoy it. Notice the texture and flavors. And when you’re done with it, thank yourself for the treat and move on to something else. By doing these steps, you have the power over the candy, not the other way around.
Additionally, set yourself up for success on Halloween by treating it like any other day of the week. Make sure to stay hydrated, get some exercise and eat well-balanced meals throughout the day. That way, you’re not starving or experiencing low blood sugar by the time the kids get home from trick-or-treating, which will make you want o dive head first into a candy-filled plastic pumpkin.
Finally, it may sound obvious, but don’t purchase candy that you love. If the temptation is not staring you in the face all Halloween night or calling your name from the pantry in the days leading up to the big night, then there’s no chance of you giving in and eating it.
WHAT’S THE BEST CANDY?
The best candy to choose is the one you like best. It might not be the healthiest one, but if it’s your favorite, then you will get the most pleasure from it. If the question is, “What’s the healthiest candy?” the answer is much clearer. Candy made with dark chocolate and/or nuts are usually the healthiest items as they contain less sugar and more protein and healthy fat, which will elicit a better insulin response than a candy that’s pure sugar. When choosing between dark chocolate items, look at the percentage of cocoa on the label. The higher the cocoa percentage, the lower the sugar it contains. We find that dark chocolate that’s between 60-74% cocoa is the perfect blend of chocolate with a hint of sweetness.
Once you’ve decided which candy is your favorite, the next step is to figure out how much you will eat. Take the emotion out of it as you ask yourself the following: Will I be satisfied with just one piece? Do I want more than one kind of candy? Can I set a limit of one or two pieces but give myself permission to have more at a later time if I truly desire it? The whole point is to take the control away from the candy and give it back to you. Additionally, change the words you use when talking about candy. Instead of “I can’t have…” say, “I choose to have….” The former gives the power to the candy while the latter puts you in the control seat.
If you want to bypass the packaged candy and instead make your own homemade version of a crowd pleaser, we have just the recipe for you. These mini dark chocolate-almond butter cups are sweet, creamy and rich enough to satisfied you after eating just one. Or two.
MINI DARK CHOCOLATE ALMOND BUTTER CUPS (MAKES 8)
- ½ cup chopped dark chocolate
- 8 tsp. raw smooth almond butter (or nut butter of your choice)
- Line a mini muffin tin with paper cupcake liners.
- Melt the chopped chocolate in a microwave or over a double boiler. Stir until smooth. Spoon ½ tablespoon of chocolate into the bottom of each and then place the muffin tin into the freezer for 10 minutes to harden.
- Remove from freezer and fill each space with 1 teaspoon almond butter. Cover the almond butter with ½ tablespoon melted chocolate. Put tin back into freezer for 10 minutes to harden. Remove and store in zip-top bag in the refrigerator.