Is Sugar Feeding Your Stress? 3 Reasons to Ditch Candy for a Healthy Halloween

It's that time of year when candy creeps into your home one way or another. Maybe your kids visited every house in a two-mile radius, or perhaps you had a ton of candy to pass out and not enough trick-or-treaters to give it to.


Either way, you're surrounded by candy and it's nearly impossible not to reach for your favorite chocolate bar. One or two pieces won’t hurt, but sometimes it can be hard to stop yourself from binge eating candy. 


Your children might jump at the sight of a spooky house or a creepy monster, but you know that the real fright is the scale in your bathroom after a Halloween candy binge.


So, what’s the secret to a healthy Halloween? Can those tasty, sugary candies be affecting more than just your waistline? Let’s take a closer look.


Reasons to Ditch Halloween Candy

Halloween might be on the 31st of October, but the holiday permeates the entire fall season. Stores start stocking Halloween candy long before the holiday is on your mind, and the candy sticks around in your homes for weeks afterward. 


Everyone knows candy isn’t healthy, but that doesn’t really tell the whole story. You might limit your Halloween candy intake to save your waistline or restrict your children’s access to keep them cavity-free. But Halloween candy binges can impact more than your weight or your smile. 


Here are three good reasons to ditch your Halloween candy:

1. Sugar impacts your brain and mood

Did you know that the average American consumes more than twice the daily sugar intake recommended by the American Heart Association? Years of too much sugar puts your heart at risk for heart disease, heart attacks, and other issues.


Part of the reason humans love sugar so much is because it gives the brain a feel-good chemical called dopamine. The more sugar you consume, the more your brain wants and needs it. Smaller doses of sugar do give your body a boost of energy, but the end result is usually a "sugar crash" later on. 

Sugar crashes are no fun, but too much sugar can go as far as impacting your mood. Studies show that high-sugar diets are associated with a greater risk of depression. Instead of falling into a habit of bing eating candy, try to focus on having a healthy Halloween.

2. Sugar and stress go hand-in-hand

Sugar does momentarily reduce the feeling of stress, which is why Halloween candy binges are so common. However, a high sugar intake also puts stress on your brain and your body as a whole. Specifically, it impacts the hippocampus, which controls memory. 


Even if your body momentarily feels less stressed from the sugar, your stress problems will only get worse if you rely on sugar to cope. If you're already stressed out or anxious, your Halloween candy binge can make you more irritable and tense. Frequently consuming too much sugar can also hurt your body's ability to react to stress. The end result is higher levels of stress and anxiety.


Too much Halloween candy means too much sugar and stress won’t be far behind.

3. Candy is designed to make you crave more

Candy companies have perfected formulas that are designed to make your body crave more sugar, salt, and fat. Have you ever noticed that you feel satisfied after a serving of fruit, but you can always go back for more candy?


Even worse, foods that are high in sugar desensitize your taste buds so you're less likely to enjoy healthy, plant-based foods. Giving in to a Halloween candy binge could make them a more common occurrence, so it’s important to stay strong!

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How to Avoid Halloween Candy Binges

So, now that you want to ditch your Halloween candy, what can you do to follow through and resist the temptation to give in? There’s no way to guarantee a healthy Halloween, but here are some tips that can keep your sugar and stress issues in check:

1. Keep Halloween candy out of your house

This is easier said than done, but there a few ways to make sure you limit the amount of candy in your pantry. 


If you like to give out candy to trick-or-treaters on Halloween, you’ll have to buy a good amount of it. The problem here is that you’ll almost always have leftovers, which can be very tempting to eat. Obviously, you don’t want any of the little monsters visiting your house to leave empty-handed, but you also don’t want to have candy sitting in your house.


The trick is to keep track of how much candy you typically give out so you know how much to buy. Don’t buy a few extra bags “just to be sure.” Buy the proper amount and stop there.


Additionally, a good rule of thumb is to never shop on an empty stomach. This is especially true after Halloween when all the holiday candy is on sale. The hungrier you are, the more likely you are to give in and purchase candy you simply don’t need. 

2. Donate leftover candy

What if candy still managed to sneak into your house Trojan Horse-style? The good news is there are a few charities you can donate the candy to so you don’t get tempted to eat it all.


Operation Gratitude takes Halloween candy and includes it in care packages for those serving our country. There’s also Halloween Candy Buyback, which partners with dentists to exchange candy for healthier items.


It also wouldn’t hurt to keep an eye out for local charities that may be accepting Halloween candy donations. No matter how you choose to donate, you can rest easy knowing you’re healthier and someone in need is happier.  

3. Dessert before dinner

There's nothing wrong with a little dessert sometimes. But if you and your children are looking to indulge, make sure to do so before dinner. Excess candy after dinner can cause blood sugar swings that make it difficult to go to bed. Instead, eat a few pieces and then follow that up with a high-protein dinner.


Dinners that are high in protein will make it easier to wind down as the evening progresses. Your blood sugar will be more stable, preventing cravings for more sugar.

4. Increase your fiber intake

A fiber-rich diet is a great way to maintain a healthy weight, and it also lowers the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and other conditions. What you might not know is that it can also help you manage your daily sugar intake. Since fiber is great for improving your digestion, it also does wonders for any excess sugar in your body.

 

Fiber absorbs the excess sugar in your body and helps get rid of it efficiently. The more fiber you have in your diet, the less likely sugar is to be an issue. 

 

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