Halloween candy

One way to keep from eating too much Halloween candy is to offer toys instead. A study by the National Institutes of Health found that children are just as likely to choose a toy instead of candy on Halloween.

By SHELBY KING

H&N Staff Reporter

We’re all concerned about our kids eating too much of that Halloween candy they bring home, but how much is really consumed by the kids and how much are the adults in the house sneaking when no one is looking?

“All it takes is an additional 100 calories a day or the equivalent of one snack-sized chocolate bar and most adults will experience weight creep before they even know it,” said Lona Sandon, registered dietician and a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.

Chocolate and candy can be a comfort food for many and is often hard to resist, especially late at night when the kids are in bed. Do you find yourself tempted?

Instead of worrying how you’re going to keep your hands out of the candy jar, prepare with some strategies on how to cope.

Buy candy you don’t like

How often do you find yourself eating the candy you’re supposed to be passing out to trick-or-treaters? That big bowl of candy sitting next to the door can be too tempting to resist for many of us.

One way to avoid eating all that candy is to buy types you’re not too fond of. Love peanut butter cups? Can’t stay away from skittles and other sugary candies? Have a weakness for dark chocolate? Don’t stock them in your Halloween candy. If it’s not there, you can’t be tempted.

“Don’t get sucked into the ‘see food diet’ mentality that makes you want to eat the candy simply because you see it and not because you are hungry,” said Brian Wansink, PhD, a Cornell researcher and author of “Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think.” “We eat more of visible foods because it causes us to think about it more, and every time you see the candy bowl you have to decide whether ... you want a piece of candy or not.”

Make sure you buy anything but your favorites and you’ll be less likely to overindulge while waiting for the doorbell to ring on Halloween night.

Avoid deprivation

When you tell yourself you can’t have something, there is a strong tendency to want more of it. And the more you try to control these urges, the more you’ll probably obsess on it.

“Treat-deprived girls in research studies load up on forbidden foods when they weren’t even hungry and tend to be fatter, not thinner,” said Ellyn Satter, a registered dietician and author of “Your Child’s Weight: Helping Without Harming.” “Girls who were allowed treats regularly ate moderately, if at all, and were thinner.”

When you’re battling between what you want to do and what you’re telling yourself you ought to do, the urge can become too big to resist and it’s possible you’ll give into the urge with abandon and gorge on candy.

Overeating will bring on those feelings of guilt and shame, triggering emotional eating and putting you at risk of an all-out binge.

Moderation

Set a limit on the time and number of pieces you can have, and stick to it.

If you tell yourself you can’t have any and then wait until the cravings are acute, there is a higher chance you’ll overeat.

“It is so easy to pop a piece of candy into your mouth mindlessly and not get the full enjoyment you would get if you saved it and ate it when you know you will enjoy it the most,” Sandon said.

Instead, allow yourself to have two or three pieces that are your favorites and allow yourself the time to savor them. Enjoy the flavor and the experience.

After a few days of eating, the candy that’s left will be the types you’re not as fond of and the temptation won’t be as strong. Throw the rest out or donate it to a crisis center or shelter.