Tricks for Treats

October 29, 2009

Dr. Michelle May recommends “Tricks to managing the treats”……

Halloween candy showed up in August (as though we needed to get a jump on our holiday shopping!) and will still be on sale in November. What is the trick to eating what you love when it is everywhere?

Scaring Away the Cravings

Halloween can be a scary time of year for those trapped in an eat-repent-repeat cycle. You seem to be haunted by all that candy in the house, leading to a full-blown candy binge, chocolate hangover, and vows to do better tomorrow. 

The tricky part is that labeling the foods you love as evil actually increases their power over you. When what you really crave is “bad,” you feel guilty for even wanting it and deprived because you can’t have it.

The result: You find yourself foraging treats from the pumpkin basket and burying the candy wrappers at the bottom of the garbage can so your kids won’t find out. And what does this say to your kids when they inevitably find out that you’ve been sneaking and stealing their candy? Talk about guilt! 

How to stop raiding your kid’s trick-or-treat loot

  • Minimize your exposure. Wait until the last minute to buy Halloween candy then buy only what you really think you’ll need for the big night. Get the stuff kids love rather than bags and bags of your favorites.
  • Remember, it’s not your food. All too often we eat whatever shows up–Halloween candy, donuts in the break room, or samples in the grocery store. But you didn’t choose to put it there so stop mindlessly putting it in your mouth!
  •  Get your own. You’ll be less tempted to get into the kid’s holiday candy if stop depriving yourself the rest of the year. Scary, I know. (Learn how in Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat Chapter 5: Fearless Eating.)
  • Share! If you really want some candy, ask your child to share a few pieces with you. Through observation, they learn that it is possible to balance eating for nourishment with eating for enjoyment.
  • Eat what you love. Skip the sugary kid candy (unless that’s what you love) and instead choose a few that you really love. Set them aside to eat when you really want them (I like to keep mine in a plastic bag in the freezer).
  • Save room for dessert. If you’re going to eat Halloween candy (you know you are!), then adjust for it. After all, does it really make sense to eat all your dinner to earn dessert?
  • If you love it that much, act like it! Enjoy those M&Ms one at a time, mindfully without distractions.
  • Just right! The fun-sized treats are the perfect size for a few mindful bites of heaven. And those first few bites are always the best, so think before you dive in for more.
  • Eat fearlessly without guilt. We all know that guilt leads to more eating, not less, so let it go.
  • Don’t torture yourself with exercise. Being physically active feels good and provides numerous benefits for your health; don’t turn it into punishment for eating.

Pass it on. Halloween is a great time to teach your kids how to enjoy a little candy as part of a healthy and active lifestyle.

Michelle May, M.D. is a recovered yo-yo dieter and author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat.

Last weekend I had the great pleasure to attended the American Dietetic Association,  Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo in Denver, Colorado.  This is the largest annual event for dietitians from all corners of the U.S., to meet and share information with each other. In addition to educational seminars focusing on the latest nutrition science information and foodservice trends,  this event enables us to exchange many best practices with fellow dietitians while learning about new products on the market.

One of the hottest topics this year was probiotics and prebiotics.   I noticed a significant increase from last year in the number of products that claimed to have probiotics and or prebiotics.  This is reflective of the growing number of these products in today’s markets. While most of the products were made from dairy (yogurt or milk), there were also some juices, cereals, and nutrition/energy bars that claimed probiotic and prebiotic.

As I walked around the Expo, I had the (gut) feeling that I was facing the same predicament most of my clients do when navigating the grocery aisles for probiotic or prebiotic products- how do I choose among all these options?

The first place you, as a consumer, can start the decision process is by educating yourself .  Because there are currently no government guidelines for probiotics labeling, it is important to know that many products can claim to have probiotic even if the product does not contain the level needed to have a beneficial health effect. So how do you know which products are actually probiotic-worthy?  Here are a few key things to consider when choosing a probiotic:

  1. What strain of probiotic is being used? Identify the type of probiotic in the product genus, species, strain name. For example: Lactobacillius (genus) Casei (species), Shirota (strain).
  2. How much of the probiotic is in each serving? Identify the level of the probiotic contained in the product (in CFU’s)
  3. Is there clinical data to support the claims? Contact or visit the manufacturer’s website to determine if any human studies have been done to demonstrate a health benefit using the level of the strain in the product. 

When in doubt, you should consult with your Registered Dietitian or other health professionals who have experience in evaluating and recommending pre and probiotics.

Each year an estimated 25–50 million cases of the flu are reported in the U.S. This year, in addition to the familiar seasonal flu, the H1N1 flu is also a threat. Maintaining a strong and healthy immune system is key to preventing the flu.

One way to keep your immune system running optimally is to consume a healthy diet and get plenty of rest. Many people don’t realize that 70-80% of your immune system is found in your digestive tract. This means that a healthy digestive tract equals a healthy immune system!

The ideal immune-enhancing diet consists of:

  • at least 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables (choose a variety of colors for optimal benefit)
  • whole grains such as whole grain breads and cereals, brown rice, and whole wheat pasta;
  • lean proteins such as fish, poultry (without the skin), beans, eggs, and soy products;
  • healthy fats such as olive oil, nuts, avocado, and omega-3 rich fishes such as salmon and halibut;
  • low fat dairy products such as milk and yogurt.

In addition to consuming a wide range of nutritious foods, you can keep your body healthy by consuming probiotics each day. Probiotics are beneficial cultures that increase the number of good bacteria in the intestinal tract. These bacteria can help support immunity as well as improve digestive health and nutrient absorption. Probiotics can be consumed through dairy products, some dry foods (such as cereals and bars), as well as supplements.

Here is an example of an immune enhancing diet:

Breakfast: 1 cup cooked oatmeal 1 Tbsp ground flaxseed 1 cup mixed berries 1 or 2 egg whites 2.7 ounces Yakult dairy beverage

Lunch: 3 cups spinach salad with added tomatoes, shredded carrots, ½ cup beans + 1 Tbsp olive oil + vinegar dressing 3 ounces skinless chicken breast 1 whole wheat dinner roll 1 cup yogurt (enhanced with probiotic bacteria)

Dinner: 3 ounces baked salmon 1 cup steamed broccoli 2/3 cup cooked brown rice 1 cup cantaloupe