Perhaps it's because it's almost Halloween and Christmas isn't far beyond it, leading to tubs of sweets, boxes of chocolates and biscuit tins pretty much lining the shelves when you walk into a shop, but I've been having some major sugar cravings. I might be low on chromium, who knows, but it could just as easily be due to exposure to such beautiful sights.
So it shouldn't come as a surprise when I say that I've already been stocking up, both for Christmas and Halloween - no, not for me specifically, it's always nice to be given some chocolate or biscuits along with your gifts and, whether I'm obsessed with fitness or not, I won't have anyone tell me I can't
eat give these kinds of things at this time of the year. But I admit that some of them are for me. I rather love some of the limited edition things like Cadbury's snow bites, little balls of chocolate covered in icing sugar. Yum.
But when it comes to Halloween, tastes differ.
Christmas is all about expensive boxes and tins of chocolate and biscuits, collections and selections to "share". But Halloween is about the smaller bits, the individual bars and sweets to give to kids at the door. We always used to buy one of the Haribo tubs in supermarkets in case we got any trick or treaters, but the kids in the area have all grown up and we've not seen trick or treaters in years. We buy through habit and just in case - we've been egged before - but we always end up eating them ourselves. So, instead, we buy things we actually want to eat now. And that's not tubs of the same old rubbish.
We still get the simple things, the little things, little bags of gummy sweets and small kid-sized chocolate bars, like Freddos, not Double Deckers, in case kids do come to the door, but half of it has mysteriously disappeared before any kids were likely to knock.
This is a fitness blog, I've not forgotten that, but there's no way anyone can live their life happily by cutting chocolate or sweets out entirely. It's true that not everyone likes sugary things, some people do prefer more wholesome foods, and that's great, but I'm not one of them. I need sugar, or I'll go crazy. I've tried cutting it out on many, many occasions and it's always led to me breaking within about 3 days at best and then eating more sugar in the following hour than I would have spread over the previous few days even if I wasn't being particularly mindful. There's a terrible condition of feeling like the world 'owes' you food if you deny yourself constantly, so it's best not to. Tell yourself you 'shouldn't' rather than 'can't'. At least you give yourself a choice that way and keep the door of possibility open a crack, and you'll feel proud of yourself each time you say 'no' because you made the active choice.
But, at times like Halloween and Christmas, you simply must allow yourself to indulge and not feel guilty for it. It is not at all impossible to eat healthily over Christmas and Halloween while allowing yourself to indulge a little.
So, like I said, we buy the things we do want to eat, so we have something if kids do come and knock at the door, and it's worthwhile to eat ourselves if we're stuck with it at the end of the night.
I prefer chocolate over sweets. Sweets are made mostly of sugar, but at least chocolate has other ingredients, so chocolate usually tops our lists. But because they're meant for kids, we don't buy much and what we do buy are individually wrapped and small. By being individually wrapped they're much easier to hand out, as well as pace yourself on without feeling the need to eat all you see because it's open or because it might go bad if left alone too long. It's quite simple psychology.
But I choose to go to online sweet shops like A Quarter Of because they have a much broader range of individually wrapped kid's sweets than most shops, which usually stock little under mars bars which are quite decadent at the end of the day. Plus, if we do decide we want to do something for Halloween ourselves we can buy 250g bags of things like cinder toffee, flying saucers, peanut clusters and other retro sweets you just can't find in most shops.
But, when it comes to my choices, I usually go for curly wurly (my favourite), Freddo, Cadbury's fudge and so on, small little bars that still taste good but don't pack as hefty a punch as a noughat-filled caramel bar, but don't leave you feeling like you've missed out, which is the most important part when it comes to trying to stay healthy while indulging at Halloween. Plus curly wurlys look big because they're flat and full of holes, so that's an extra boost, tricking you into thinking you've had more than you have.
So, suffice it to say that I won't be going without this Halloween. Yes, I'll still be exercising and maybe doing a little extra cardio just in case, but I won't be missing out. I advise you all to do the same. Shop smart; buy things you like but don't go crazy. You don't want to feel like you've missed out, but you don't have to eat loads to feel that way. Keep it simple so you don't cross the line and enter the guilt-zone.
Tips To Keep Healthy This Halloween
without denying yourself a treat
• Don't buy things you don't actually like, and say 'no' to offers from others if you don't like it, either. If it's not worth the calories, don't touch it. That's just a one-way trip to guilt and regret.
• Go for chocolate, which has less sugar than sweets and candy because it has other ingredients instead. Be wary of anything that lists 'sugar' as the first ingredient; the first listed ingredient is always the one that makes up the bulk of the product, and hard-boiled sweets are almost pure sugar.
• Caramel is also mostly sugar, so if you choose caramels and toffees, don't eat too many.
• Go for things that look big but aren't. Curly wurlys are caramels that have been drizzled in a 'curly wurly' pattern and then covered in chocolate. They're flat, they're thin, and there's lots of gaps. All screwed up and compacted, it doesn't come to much. So, if you're like me and love caramel regardless of it being mostly sugar, curly wurlys are the way to go. Aero is also another great option because these bars are full of air bubbles that make up most of the bulk, making them look bigger than they truly are. The same can also be said for maltesers, which are honeycomb which is also half-air.
• Lots of people will tell you to make a list of your top 10 sweets and allow yourself something from the bottom of that list. I say 'don't waste your time'. That's just eating for the sake of eating and, I don't know about you, but I'd struggle to make a list of 10 sweets so whatever was at the bottom would probably be there just to get it to number '10', and I probably wouldn't like it all that much.
• Look into healthy alternatives. I know I'm telling you not to deny yourself, but if you can find some tasty and healthy alternatives, or something healthy that will complement the sweets and chocolate, filling you up so you don't eat too many bad things, then do it. Be it fruit and nuts arranged in a Halloween theme, or some kind of trail mix with a bit of cinder toffee thrown in, then be sure to do it - you'll think yourself later.
• Drink water. This will help your body to metabolise the sugar (water is needed for every chemical reaction in the body), it will also fill you up and it has 0 calories so it does no damage at all. Make sure to drink about 8 glasses of water a day in general, but drinking a little extra water if you feel you've over-indulged will certainly help.
You can also try my Witch's Brew green hot chocolates - they're 50 calories and contain no artificial colours! Or you could even sneak in a few healthy treats with a Halloween twist, like my superfood marzipan monsters, or a spooky spirulina smoothie!
Now then, regardless of calories, sugar and 'behaving yourself', what's your favourite Halloween treat?