Dear Food Speak: I'm dreading having to face leftover Halloween candy that winds up at my house and my work. Is out of sight, out of mind the best solution?
When it comes to candy, out of sight is partially out of mind.
Research shows that people do eat less candy when it's out of sight. A study out of Cornell University monitored the habits of 40 candy-eating adult secretaries and discovered that they indulged more when the candy was placed in clear bowls (most visible) and in close proximity. Study participants also tended to underestimate how much candy they ate when it was closer to them.
This study points to how environmental factors can influence our eating habits, but there's more to calming a sweet tooth than that. I'm talking about changing your mind about candy.
Your saying that you dread candy tells me you're focused on avoiding it, and that's exactly what will set you up to crave it more. If you could find it within yourself to permit treats in moderation, then they wouldn't seem to overpower you. You've even got the blessing of the American Heart Association.
The AHA recommends limiting the amount of added sugars you consume to no more than half of your daily discretionary calorie allowance. Discretionary calories are "extras," like added sugars, fats and alcohol, to be spent at your discretion. For most American women, that's roughly 100 calories per day, the equivalent of about six teaspoons of sugar. The more physically active you are, the more discretionary calories you get.
Just be sure to give yourself some leeway with this guideline on Halloween. See it as one day and not the nutritional nightmare it's made out to be.
Eat candy more mindfully, and you may be pleasantly surprised to find more satisfaction eating less of it. Try to approach every piece of candy from now on as if it were your last. Before eating your next treat, examine its every detail as if using a microscope. Appreciate intricate ridges, breathe in its rich scent and savor the silky smooth texture.
My sweetest advice is to be patient. It will take more than this Halloween season to change your mind about candy. In the meantime, keep at least some candy out of sight and out of mind. When stocking up for trick-or-treaters, keep your favorite candies in mind by purchasing more brands that you don't like or crave.
To take the pressure off you even more, mix some fun, non-food treats into the candy bowl like spider rings, glow sticks and stickers. At work, tell your co-workers about the candy bowl study and then volunteer to dish it out!
Courtney Sansonetti is a medical nutrition therapist and certified diabetes educator for Rehabilitation Associates Inc. Her Food Speak column appears monthly. Email your questions to: email@example.com.