We also know that this time of year has a trio of holidays that lead us to overconsumption. Most people load up on Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years... and then they inevitably try to turn it all around on January 1st. We know what time of year it is… leaves are changing color, the air is cooler, there’s new life in the air with fall.
Ya, good luck with that!
Remember, habits are... well... habitual. Change takes a long time and it requires a lot of good choices. Going from extreme indulgence to extreme restriction isn’t the best way to approach anything in life.
Let’s focus on Halloween for the moment. Halloween is unique in its very nature by centering around candy. Yes, yes, yes, ”But Jeremiah, my kids trick or treat—not me.” Don’t act like I’ve never seen the viral videos of parents “pretending” they ate all their kids candy on Jimmy Kimmel.
I know, I know… it’s “pretend.”
But I vividly remember what it was like to have my parents—my dad, let’s be honest—visit my bag of candy at the end of all my hard work on Halloween night. They would come over... and over and over and over again: “Ohhh, Jeremiah, just one more piece!”
My parents hardly ate sweets, and they never ate candy… but, Halloween was different.
Here’s what I want to say in this blog: The moment we want to make a choice that centers around our circumstances, we are allowing our circumstances to dictate our choice.
This is not a good idea in life—or with your diet.
Let’s say you’ve been making a conscious effort to make lifestyle changes. You’re actively practicing healthy habits of exercise, solid nutrition, quality rest, etc.—but you only choose to make the effort when the choice is easy.
Well, you never get anywhere like that. You’re stuck in a “two steps forward and one step back” kind of routine. That’s exhausting.
You have to have a plan! Decide before the choice actually arrives. Know what you’re going to do before you get to the party and someone is shoving loads of unhealthy sweets in your face.
With holidays, we have this massive moment we believe gives us permission to let loose.
We at MinusCal agree that you should enjoy the holidays and have a treat, but we also believe that you should know “how far you’re going to go” before you start going down that road.
Again, as I said in the travel and your diet blog here, having a plan is a must.
So let me help you with a plan of attack for the Halloween ahead:
Check out this factoid: “The average trick-or-treating kid can consume around three cups of sugar (or about 7,000 calories of candy) on Halloween. For context: That’s 675 grams of sugar, or the same as chomping down almost 169 standard sugar cubes.”
Candy is mostly fat and sugar. Most of the fats and sugars are the refined/processed kind. This is commonly known. However, let’s pretend for arguments sake that you’re buying the “purest” form of candy that you can find.
Let’s say you find, for example, a super clean/organic chocolate/peanut butter cup. Is it better than the other options?
Well, yes, but only to a degree. Since sweets are mostly fat and sugar, they are calorically dense. A small piece can contain a lot of calories.
Think about this extreme. A head of broccoli may contain around 35 calories. That head of broccoli can fill most stomachs! And yet two Reece’s Cups contain around 250 calories...and you don’t feel remotely full after eating that!
Hopefully, you’re making your own connections. My point here is for you to understand that candy doesn’t offer much nutritional value.
It delivers very little satiation, and beyond that it can be addictive. We haven’t even started looking at how a lot of candy is often made with dangerous ingredients. I only want to tell you plainly that candy should be less attractive to you as a go to “indulgence.”
I’m only partially kidding. Let me open this up a bit, and then tie it to Halloween.
The “LGN” (Look Good Naked) workout/diet has become common talk for people preparing for wedding day or swimsuit season (or both).
The mindset basically goes like this: Do anything you need to do—namely extreme exercise and extremely strict dieting (neither sustainable)—in order to look good with the least amount of clothes on.
Avoid the extremes.
Extremes are for seasonal behavior changes. We don’t want you to be seasonal with your health, we want you to be consistent!
Dropping weight for one event like a wedding isn’t healthy. It’s like “hibernating,” and gaining weight during the cold months and dropping weight rapidly for the warm ones is not healthy.
Just as well, others believe they are staying healthy if they simply maintain the weight they have now. I urge not to focus on one number, like your weight. Remember that the main focus of your overall health should be your vital components, namely your heart.
So for Halloween, I encourage you to think less about how the things you eat will affect your image, and more about how they affect your heart.
I promise, the more you focus on heart health, the better you will feel. You will also be pleased with your body image as you will start to be in a consistent place, a place you can maintain, a place from which you can live a full life.
So as you walk into your Halloween parties, act with patience and rational. Don’t let the moment take you over where you eat and drink way too much, then try to remedy it all the very next day with a crazy workout and no food...or whatever other crazy idea you might think of.
According to American Addiction Centers of the next three holidays (Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas), adults drink the most on Halloween, with an average of 3.5 drinks per person.
(New Years takes it up a notch, with the average consumption being 4.4 drinks—second only to Mardi Gras’s 4.5.)
Alcohol has a caloric value of roughly 7.2 calories/g (most people don’t know that)—it’s second only to fat’s 9 calories/g.
One common phrase around calories is whether people want to “drink” their calories for the night, or “eat” their calories for the night. I’ve heard it most with regard to sweets. Dessert is a favorite course for many people during the holidays, and I know that with bowls of candy present, dessert can feel like it’s constantly happening.
What they are talking about is the fact that alcohol does have calories, and can be an indulgence just like sweets.
To make my point, people don’t talk about protein this way. No one says, “I can’t decide whether to eat my protein today or drink it.” They just get their protein.
Besides the fact that alcohol can be expensive, alcohol costs you some calories and some awareness. If you continue to drink without thinking about it, you will take in far more calories—and be far more affected than you thought.
The benefits of drinking only one drink—glass of wine, cocktail, etc.—will be wonderful if you can master it. You will spend less, consume less, and eventually learn how to still enjoy the drink.
So try this: Have a glass of wine (or drink of your choice) before the meal. Just one.
Enjoy it, and let your body process that alone at first. You will feel it a bit. Plus, it’s a good natural step to have a drink, then move to the meal and be done.
It’s known that the body actually stops digesting food when you put alcohol in your system because it sees that alcohol as a dangerous thing it needs to process first.
So think about that: If you drink multiple drinks while you eat, you will not only avoid feeling the drinks but you will stop your body from digesting the food it has until it digests the alcohol! This is another reason that those who drink more gain more weight.
Finally, don’t do any of it alone. As always, it helps to be accountable to others. Be in step with people that will help you make good choices around the holidays, and enjoy being with them. Focus on the enjoyment of being with others more than the food or drink. Those are only great add ons :)