Halloween may be behind us, but we’re left with an abundance of candy in bowls sitting atop counters, work desks and conference tables, making it an especially tempting time for adults. It's also considered the start of the holiday eating season which, for many Americans, includes overindulging in sweets through the end of the year. In fact, according to a recent survey, over 60 percent of Americans agree that they deserve to indulge in holiday treats.
Sugary treats can mean excess calories and can also wreak havoc with your energy levels. A dose of sugar can send your blood sugar skyrocketing, only to have it dip just as quickly — and this roller-coaster effect often leads to more sugar cravings. So, it’s important to establish healthy habits to help tame that sweet tooth before it spirals out of control for the rest of the year. Here are some doable strategies to better navigate holiday eating.
Satisfy Sweet Cravings
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends choosing fresh fruits or vegetables instead of dipping into that candy bowl. At the office, try some fresh fruit with high-protein Greek yogurt, or a handful of trail mix made with nuts and dried fruit. Berries are also a great sugar substitute, as they are sweet, delicious, and easy to eat. Filling up on these nourishing foods before holiday parties can also help you avoid overindulging in sweets and treats - many of which contain a lot of sugar, fat and calories that can lead to holiday weight gain.
For many of us, Halloween can be the start of a stressful holiday season when we’re eating on the go or nibbling over an hors d’oeuvres or dessert table. Remember to eat slowly. It takes at least 20 minutes for your brain to let you know that you’re full. And take the time to think about what you’re putting in your mouth. Ask yourself, “Am I hungry for that third piece of candy or would some fruit or a glass of water be a better option?” Intuitive eating or listening to what your body wants or needs can help you eat what’s best for you.
See No Sugar
For those of us who have a ferocious sweet tooth, it may be best to put candy in the cupboard — out of sight, out of mind. Participate in your community’s Halloween Candy Buy Back where it will be collected — usually at a local dentist’s office — and shipped to our troops overseas. You can also send home leftover holiday sweets and treats with your guests or freeze them for another time.
Walk it Off
Mid-morning and mid-afternoon are traditional “slump times” in our day when it’s easy to crave a tempting, unhealthy snack for a sugar boost. Instead of reaching for that candy bar or leftover piece of pumpkin pie, try diverting your attention by going outside for invigorating fresh air and some cardio. Exercise sends oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and helps your cardiovascular system work more efficiently – and, you’ll likely forget all about those sugar cravings.
Stay the Course
Think about your usual daily patterns, and when you normally eat meals and snacks. If a mid-morning snack isn’t part of your usually routine, you shouldn’t be reaching for sweets at 10 AM. Make sure your meals and snacks contain plenty of hunger-busting protein, and don’t let yourself get dehydrated.
Attending more social gatherings and staying out later often means cutting back on sleep. Sleep loss can make it harder to manage your blood sugar, and when you’re sleep deprived, you may tend to eat more and prefer high-fat, high-sugar food. Aim for at least 7 hours per night to safeguard against mindless eating.
Don’t Make it a Habit
A few pieces of left over Halloween candy or decadent holiday sweet at a party or two isn’t the end of the world, but don’t let it become a habit. Eating an extra 100 calories a day above what you require could mean a ten-pound weight gain over a course of a year. Stay in control and you’ll have a happier, healthier holiday season!
While the overabundance of sugary sweets and treats can be challenging for most during Halloween and the remaining holiday season, arming yourself with some surefire strategies will help you maintain control and prevent weight gain. Furthermore, implementing these strategies throughout the year can lead to a better relationship with sugar and good overall health.
For more nutrition tips, visit www.Herbalife.com.
WRITTEN BYSusan Bowerman