Curbing That Halloween Sweet Tooth
For many of us, Halloween is the beginning of a three and a half month goodie binge to celebrate all the fun holidays: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa, and New Year’s Eve.
Habits for healthy eyes
If you’ve read some of my articles, you know that I’m a huge advocate for healthy living and healthy eating. This doesn’t mean that I don’t like to eat unhealthy things or lazing about. It just means I know the benefits of eating well and exercising, so I try to do the best I can and stay as healthy as possible to preserve my vision.
I believe this is one of the most important things we can do to help keep our eyes healthy. Buuuut...many of my articles are also written about living your best life and just being HAPPY. I’m also a huge advocate of a joyful life. And let’s be honest, holiday food and celebrations can certainly bring joy!
Is there a way to do both? Yes!
You can still have treats
I don’t know about you, but I could easily eat an entire sleeve of cookies in one sitting if I wasn’t paying attention. Being mindful about how much you’re eating goes a long way. Sometimes all I need to curb my sweet tooth is just one or two cookies. Seriously.
At Halloween, they make these amazing things called bite-sized candy bars. Though these are not healthy for us, they are a much more manageable size than a full-size candy bar. Just try not to eat one bite-sized bar of all the kinds in the candy dish!
Quick(ish) tip: Dark chocolate is a healthier choice than milk chocolate. To start, it has fewer calories because it doesn’t contain high amounts of fatty oils and sugar that milk chocolate does. These added ‘bad for us ingredients’ are what make milk chocolate much sweeter than dark. Dark chocolate also has a few health benefits itself interestingly enough. A good quality dark chocolate can contain any combination of the following nutrients: manganese, copper, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, zinc (not enough to harm those of us that need to steer clear of zinc), potassium, selenium, riboflavin, calcium, and niacin. Just as there isn’t enough zinc in dark chocolate, there also isn’t enough of the nutrients to call it a health food. There are a few other claims of health benefits of dark chocolate, but that would require an entire article in itself, not just a quick(ish) tip. Next time you’re looking for chocolate, it may benefit you to check the ingredient labels.
Mix it up
If you’re really craving something sweet, you can try mixing something healthy with something sweet. This way, you’re curbing that sweet tooth and getting nutrients from food at the same time.
One easy way to do this is with fruit. Try chocolate-covered frozen bananas or chocolate-covered berries! I also like to add just a few dark chocolate chips to the top of peanut butter spread on crackers. Caramel apples are always delicious this time of year as well. Or, a mix of your favorite peanut/almond/cashew and just a few (not many) candy corn! This tastes just like a Payday candy bar!
Quick tip: Did you know that if you chop bananas and freeze them overnight, they blend up to the consistency of ice cream in a blender? It’s pretty amazing! And PS...it doesn’t take much candy corn to curb a sweet tooth, they’re VERY sweet! Try sticking to one serving size (21 pieces) or less.
Saying no to cravings
Though it isn’t always the easiest thing to do, we are capable of just saying no to our cravings. It may feel hard to say no at the moment that craving strikes, but I always feel pretty good about my choice later on if I was able to refrain.
A day of indulgence
Plus, as a bonus, when I’m really being consistent with my eating (because let’s be honest we all fall off the wagon sometimes, right?) I like to reward myself with a day of indulgence! If I can be strong and not give in to my cravings, it really gives me something to look forward to and helps keep me on track! I can say things to myself like, “Andrea, do not eat that cupcake today...you’re gonna eat whatever you want on Saturday!”
This works really well when holiday celebrations are coming up! If I know I have an upcoming party to attend, I can try harder to be ‘good’ the rest of the week. It allows me to really enjoy myself and not feel bad about my food choices when the festivities finally arrive!
Quick tip: Some people call this a ‘cheat’ day...I call it a TREAT day! Treat yourself!
Sugar-free gum can really be tasty, Friends. There are so many delicious flavors out there! I even saw apple pie and caramel apple flavored sugarless gum this week! Worth a try, right? My kids gobbled it all up before I had a chance to try it so it must have been delicious!
Eat it slowly and savor it
Have you ever eaten an entire snack/treat/meal and thought to yourself afterword, “How did I already eat all of that?” As I get older and more conscious of my nutrition and eating habits, I try to slow down and really savor my food. This is especially important when I’m craving something sweet. I can sit and enjoy one decadent chocolate truffle even more than scarfing an entire chocolate bar in thirty seconds flat. My parents always told me to slow down while I ate...why is this just now clicking for me?
Eat frequently and don’t skip meals
Sometimes when we try to watch what we eat during the day, we actually eat too little. If I’m trying to eat really well and don’t eat frequently enough I find myself having some uncontrollable cravings. Especially for foods that contain high amounts of sugar.
This is scary territory, Friends, and often results in me feeling starved. And, that’s usually right about when I start to grab anything that’s near without even thinking twice about it. Halloween candy? Why not?
It’s important to remember that not eating is not the same as eating well. I’ve learned the hard way that small (healthy) snacks frequently throughout the day stop me from going demonic on the leftover doughnuts in the teacher’s lounge on my plan time.
Brush your fangs
If all else fails, when I’m really struggling and want to not eat that dessert...I brush my teeth! Your sweet treat won’t taste the same anymore…
Halloween is the beginning of the season of temptation. It’s so important to those of us on a health journey with macular degeneration to be conscious of what we are eating so we can stay as healthy as possible. But...don’t forget to set aside some joyful time to treat yourself too. You can do both!
Happy, Healthy Halloween!
Do you rely on food and nutrition to slow down the progression of MD?