Real talk: Sugar addiction is real. I’m a sugar addict.
My fondest memory of Halloween is dressing up as a princess and competing with my brother and cousins to collect the most candy. When our ragged pillowcases and plastic jack-o-lantern buckets were filled, we’d empty our haul at home before embarking upon trick-or-treating, round two. We milked the neighborhood of its sweets before returning home to do a candy count, declare the winner and trade for favorites. (I always went for the chocolate.)
After my parents made sure our stash was free of needles, poison and other dangers, I was given free rein with my Halloween treats. And you bet I did. One creamy, chocolaty bite led to another and another. The first night I’d polish off half of my haul, the second day I ate the other 50% and, by day three, I was pleading my brother for some of his chocolate.
Years have gone by since that Halloween. I’m still excited to dress up, and I’m still a die-hard fan of chocolate. (Seriously, don’t get between me and chocolate.) When it comes to self-control on the sweet stuff, don’t tell me to just take deep breaths until my cravings go away. Believe me, I’ve tried all the prevent-a-sugar-binge tips you’ve probably heard of (get enough sleep, brush your teeth, take a walk, meditate, call a friend), to no avail. #FAIL
The Sugar Cravings…and Halloween
If I’m in the I-need-sugar mindset, there’s only one thing on my mind: sweet, sweet sugary delights. If you’re a sugar addict, you know that ravenous sugar craving I’m talking about, the one that whispers sweet nothings into every crevice of your mind and makes you gulp saliva in futile attempts to swallow your cravings.
Can you relate to this internal struggle of attempting self-control on the sweet stuff? Like me, you may swear Halloween — especially the day after Halloween when there are overflowing trick-or-treat bags lying around and candy on sale everywhere — was created to taunt sugarholics like us.
How I Combat My Sweet Nemesis
After years of studying nutrition, I have come to terms with my sugar addiction and gained an understanding of how refined sugars work in our bodies. In short, I became scared of the detrimental effects sugar had on my body, and I made the conscious decision to limit my intake. Through time and practice, I have developed techniques to repel those sweet tempting voices in my head:
- Feeling slightly hungry? It’s time to eat. This prevents me from overeating as well as being hangry. When I’m hangry, I don’t think straight, making it practically impossible to fight my sugar cravings.
- I load up on whole grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes and nuts instead of the refined stuff. The combination of fiber, protein, unsaturated fats, vitamins and minerals helps me feel satisfied without intensely spiking my blood sugar. I can control my cravings easier because I have less room for sweets.
- Strenuous exercise that makes me sweat helps suppress my hunger and, therefore, my cravings. During my workout, I’m able to clear my head and pinpoint my thoughts. How hungry am I? Do I really need that candy bar? What is my body really craving? Usually, I’m able to tone down my sugar cravings enough to make and eat a post-workout meal. If I still have a sweet tooth after my meal, I’ll prepare a personal-size dessert like banana with peanut butter and honey. (Warning: This may not work for everyone, so listen to your own body.)
- Water alone does not help me beat back the cravings, but it is a vital inclusion. Water fills my stomach, making me feel fuller.
3 Tips to Deal with Leftover Halloween Candy
So you’ve had your fair share of Halloween candy, but there’s still a bucket full of it. As a fellow sugar addict turned health fanatic, here’s how I deal with leftover Halloween candy:
- DIY Trail Mix. Grab your favorite trail mix recipe (like this one), and add your favorite fun-size candy! It prolongs the sweetness, and you’ll be getting fiber, protein, unsaturated fats, iron and an array of vitamins and minerals along with your sweets. (Note: Trail mix can be high in calories and fat, so eat in moderation.)
- Make this oatmeal chocolate bar recipe by subbing out the chocolate chips for your favorite chopped chocolate bar or M&M’s.
- If the sugar cravings hit too hard, the safest route is to avoid a scenario with you left alone with a bucket full of candy. Bring the leftovers to the office, your dentist, a local charity (think: nursing home, food pantry, homeless shelter) or send it overseas. Sharing is caring!
What works for me may not work for you and vice versa. Most importantly, be patient with yourself as you explore your relationship with sugar. For more ideas, here are 15 simple hacks for eating less sugar. (Number 14 is realize that you don’t have to go cold turkey!)