Cris LaBossiere

Cris LaBossiere
Strength training and mountain biking. My two favorites

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Healthy Halloween: An Oxymoron?

Don't eat too much junk on Halloween.

"You're a buzzkill Cris!"

"It's only once per year, lighten up!"

"Everything in moderation"

The average Halloween haul can easily be well over 1000 calories.  One serving of Hershey's Kisses (9 pieces) is 200 calories.  Is that bad?

Not really.  Trick-or-treaters are likely to burn off several hundred calories walking door to door to gather loot, add a few more calories burned if the haul gets heavy.

So if we did a straight calories in - calories out comparison using a moderate consumption of candies versus the calories blown off collecting those candies, you may see no excess intake of calories, but probably too many of the days calories coming from processed surgery candies.

Does that really happen?  Or are kids, and adults for that matter eating more calories in candies than they burned off getting the candies?

Yes.  It doesn't end on Halloween day though.. we usually sneak a few candies prior to Halloween, you know.. to warm up a little.  The days following the big haul we gradually chip away at the pile of sugar, fat, and sodium (and artificial colours/ flavours) that make up the tasty treats.

For the naysayers out there who like to make extreme interpretations of what I say, I am not suggesting that we all lock ourselves in a room with treadmill on Halloween and completely abstain from eating any candies at all.  I'm saying let's be a little more cerebral and less blinded by tradition.  Enjoy Halloween, but maybe put less into thinking that all the reward is in the over-consumption of crap.

Think about this.. is there any day of the year that places as much commercial and personal emphasis on promoting, anticipating, and feeling rewarded from eating healthy or simply living healthy?

Nope.  Not one day.. ever.

All we have are holidays and festive times that celebrate overeating, and always overeating things are not that healthy to begin with, even in moderate amounts.

So where's the "everything in moderation" there?  The "buzzkill" is obesity, type two diabetes, coronary artery disease and cancer.

No, you don't drop dead of cancer from eating some candy on Halloween.  I didn't say that.

Over the years we're alive though, the repeated celebration of overeating and emphasis on feeling rewarded via pigging out adds up.  That's why more of our population is overweight every year, and those who are overweight are more overweight.

What can be done?

Collect less loot on Halloween.  Celebrate getting together with friends and family, doing the costume thing, and trick or treating.

If your loot pile is really big, throw out half or more.  That's right.. throw it in the garbage. It isn't wasteful to throw out the junk food, it's WAIST-FULL to eat it.

Associate non-rewarding ill-health effects with over-doing it, but don't totally freakout about it, it won't harm us to eat some candy treats.

Selection:  Lot's of words in the ingredients label? Give stronger consideration to tossing it.

See if you can have some fun guessing the calorie content of the candies.  Go online to the candy makers website and see what the number really is.  Use the actual calorie count to help establish how quickly the calories add up and where to draw the line.

Avoid dipping into the bag while out trick or treating.  Save all the junk to the end, dump it all on a table to take a look at what you have, and pick out a few of your favorites and enjoy those.  Save a few for the next few days, but don't try to lengthen out the rations.. why prolong over consuming junk food?  Give yourself 3 days or so of picking at leftovers, then trash the rest.

Thinking of what to hand out at the door?  Why not hand out toys? A study that looked at kids sense of reward from receiving a toy or candy on Halloween showed that when given a choice kids were just as likely to choose toys as candies.  Cut down the junk, add some toys.

Choose healthier snacks like low fat granola bars and pure chocolates.

Overeating doesn't have to be the main focus of reward on Halloween.  Enjoy the festivities, eat a little less..

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