By J.J. Virgin
Last October I took my son to the dentist. As I reached for my credit card to pay, I noticed a big bowl filled with small candy bars sitting next to the receptionist's desk. "Really!?" I asked. "This is a dentist." The receptionist seemed unphased.
Fall definitely has a dark side, and no, I don't just mean shorter days. Halloween initiates the high-sugar impact season that begins in early October and ends New Year's Day, when you reluctantly agree to go cold-turkey off sugar.
I'm especially aware how challenging Halloween can be with kids. You don't want to deprive them, but neither will you allow them to slip into a sugar coma. This year, let's shift perspective and make Halloween fun rather than just a candy-drenched fiesta.
If you need a jolt, visit your local haunted house but steer clear of the candy corn and other high-sugar impact debacles with these five strategies:
- Don't let it in your house. Having candy and other high-sugar impact foods in the kitchen (or wherever you keep your secret stash) becomes a blatant invitation to "sample" a few bites (and you know how that ends). Don't allow the enemy into your house and you won't succumb to 11 p.m. weaknesses. No food traps mean no morning-after regrets.
- Make it hard. If your kids attempt a coup d'etat when you resist their overindulging, skip the soft chewy stuff and choose hard candies like lollipops that take longer to eat.
- Observe the 3-bite rule. If a Halloween concoction becomes sample-worthy (most aren't), you needn't abstain, but neither should you mindlessly partake. Sample three polite bites - we're talking about how you would eat on national TV, not during an 11 p.m. fridge raid - and step away from the stash. Be aware about food intolerances, and note that a few bites of Halloween candy often becomes a slippery slope. Proceed accordingly!
- Eat every 4 - 6 hours. Before they head out to collect their stash, make a rule your kids must eat dinner that includes lean protein, non-starchy veggies, a good starch like legumes or quinoa, and health fat. They'll be far less likely to devour half the plastic candy-loaded jack o' lantern before they return home.
- Host your own. Want to really control what your kids consume? Have a party and serve hot cider with cinnamon-dusted warm almonds, and apple or celery slices with almond butter. Create fun games, put on a scary movie (or maybe just It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown), and maybe go old-school with apple bobbing.
I realize how challenging curbing sugar consumption can become during the holidays, especially if you've got kids. The candy-everywhere thing has become out of control, right? Share your strategies below or on my Facebook page about how to control cravings so a few bites of something doesn't become a sugar overload.