Despite the bad rap that the Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s celebrations get, I believe Halloween has the potential to do the most damage to your weight.  We will certainly be talking soon about how to navigate the holiday season, but for right now, I want to talk about why I believe Halloween has such potential to derail you and what you can do about it.

Halloween candy typically lasts from October 1 through Thanksgiving and doesn’t give your body the same sense of fullness that you would get from having a large meal like Thanksgiving or Christmas.  It is because of this that many people find it very easy to have a piece or two here and there.  This can add up to enough extra sugar, fat, and calories to pack on more than a pound a week (depending on individual metabolism and amount consumed).  I know that sounds like a lot, but when you realize that each piece of individually packaged candy contains 40-100 calories, that can add up very quickly!

Most people who are trying to lose weight or maintain it effectively would not go out and purchase a candy bar a day and expect to achieve their goals.  Somehow, that mentality shifts over the Halloween “season.”  I’ve had clients gain a few pounds a week during the first few weeks of October and tell me that they’ve only had a few pieces.  When we actually tracked their consumption, it turned out to be MOREthan a candy bar a day.  Once they were able to employ some of the strategies listed below, they were able to more effectively manage their weight while continuing to enjoy some treats.  Remember, DEPRIVATION LEADS TO BINGE, so let’s employ some strategies instead of beating ourselves up to resist with white knuckles!

Here is a great place to find out how many calories are in your favorite treats.
Check out this calorie counting website.  I think it is good to know just how much work it will take to burn off each treat.

  1. Wait to buy your candy until the last minute.  Stores buy way more than they will sell before Halloween, so there will really not be a shortage.
  2. Only buy candy that does not tempt you.  Yes, this is a “no fun” strategy, but it’s also not much fun to start the traditional holiday season 5-8 pounds heavier.  Don’t stop reading now as the next strategy is to be used with this one and should make you feel better.
  3. Because you have already decided to buy candy you do not love, I want you to buy an individual serving size of something you really do like that you can have on Halloween night (not bite size…a real candy bar).  Even if you buy a full-size candy bar, I could almost guarantee that it will be less than you would have eaten if you had a big bowl of little ones.  I have even had clients cut their large candy bar into pieces and put it in a Ziploc bag so they can eat it in “bite size” pieces throughout the evening.
  4. Empty the bowl at the end of the night.  Even if you are not tempted by the candy that you have bought, you never know when you are going to have a weak moment and give in to the leftover candy.  When we have finished giving away candy at our house, we put a bowl out on our porch and leave the light on for the late trick-or-treaters.  If there’s a lot left, we’ve even been known to leave a note telling them that we would love to see an empty bowl in the morning.  Most children are more than happy to help you out.
  5. Navigate your evening with these rules in mind.

These can be effective strategies, but only if you employ them.  The next few weeks will include for ideas on how to deal with this two month holiday in the workplace and the candy that your children bring home.