October, with all of those tiny candy bars around, can be a tough month. We get it; the struggle is real! But before you find yourself drowning in a pile of discarded wrappers, try some of these tips to beat the sugar cravings.
Out of sight out of mind
When I have a nutrition client who is struggling with snacking or who feels out of control around a certain food, I recommend they pre-portion those foods into individual servings and take them out one at a time. But when we’re talking about mini candy bars that are already portioned, we may need to go one step further. Those wrappers just slip off so dang easily!
If you’ve got a load of Halloween candy kicking around the house, stash it somewhere you can’t see it. You know its there, but you need to make an extra effort to go get it. I don’t like frozen chocolate, so if I’m trying to slow myself down I’ll toss it in the freezer. My husband, however, prefers his chocolate out of the freezer, so this tactic won’t work for him. An out of reach cupboard (preferably not in the kitchen), a bedroom drawer, or wherever you’re going to have to go that extra distance to get at those tiny treats.
And you can still portion out Halloween candy--just choose what you think is a reasonable portion (2 or 3 of those little bars should do it!) and divvy them up into individual bags or containers.
Don’t get hungry
There’s no faster way to ensure a candy binge than letting yourself get too hungry. That’s when we tend to lose control, reach for whatever is closest, and make poor nutrition decisions. That handful of candy might seem like a good idea at the time, but it won’t fill you up and in no time you’ll be reaching for more. So at the times of year when we know temptation is all around us, it’s a good idea to plan out your day, pack and prep your meals, and set yourself up for success.
Aim for meals and snacks that combine whole grains (like wheat berries or whole-grain brown rice), healthy fats (like avocado or almonds), a good source of protein (like tofu or cottage cheese), and some produce (use your imagination!).
Have a cup of tea
This is something I suggest to my clients all the time, and the success rate is really high. So often when we’re reaching for something sugary it’s because we’re in the habit of doing so, like following dinner with dessert, or munching on sweets in front of the TV.
Try replacing the ritual with a cup of tea. There are lots of great herbal teas that are naturally a bit sweet, and the warmness is really satisfying as well. You may find that after a while you find yourself naturally reaching for the teapot instead of the candy stash. And staying well hydrated, with herbal tea or water, is always a good thing.
Get enough sleep
Second only to making sure you don’t get too hungry, getting enough sleep is vital to making good nutrition choices. Being tired and being hungry often feel similar to the brain, so when you haven’t had enough sleep you’re more prone to make indulgent choices. With all of the late-night spooky happenings this month you may find you’re burning the candle at both ends, but try to prioritize rest for nutrition’s sake!
Last but not least, planned indulgences are on my first line of defense when it comes to keeping sugar cravings under control. Nothing will leave me face down in a pool of candy wrappers faster than having denied myself a treat for too long. I always find it easier to stay on track with healthy eating and making good snack choices when I know there’s a treat around the corner. Whether you plan a treat day, a treat meal, or you know you’ve got a couple of squares of good-quality dark chocolate to look forward to with your cup of tea, planning indulgences into your healthy eating routine can be a key to success.
Sugar photo via Shutterstock