Don’t be Tricked by Treats this Halloween and Keep the Weight off Your Joints
Fall is here, bringing with it the relief of cool weather to some areas, fall produce, and fun family traditions. But for anyone trying to eat well, manage their weight, and avoid excess sugar, this time of year can be frightful! Many Hinge Health participants have begun expressing concerns about the treats showing up in the stores. Pumpkin spice lattes, pancakes, and aisles packed with candy can be hard to resist. Plus, many are struggling this year, and sugar is tempting when one is under stress.
Unfortunately, though, sugar is your musculoskeletal (MSK) enemy as it has a negative impact on your joints. According to the That Sugar Movement, when inflammation occurs in our body long-term it can start to damage parts of our body, including our joints. What’s one cause of inflammation? Eating too many sugary foods and drinks!
So how can we enjoy a treat this Halloween and holiday season without going overboard?
Here are some of the top ideas my Hinge Health participants and I have come up with to help them keep to their nutrition goals and avoid impacting their joints:
- Don’t buy it
- Set a treat limit
- Move it out of the way
- Track it
Don't buy it!
Sugar is addictive—that’s why it’s in many junk foods and treats! Dr. Mark Hyman explained, “The more sugar we consume, the more we want.” That’s why putting down the Halloween candy can be so hard—the more bites we take, the more we’re fueling the beast. In fact, studies show the bacteria in our stomach feed off sugar and actually tell our brain to eat more. Avoiding temptation by not bringing sugary foods like candy into your home is one of the most popular strategies for resisting these treats my clients have shared over the years.
If you can avoid even buying the treat, then it cannot enter your home or your body. If you’ll be handing out candy to trick-or-treaters, don’t buy a type of candy you like. Save your empty-calories for a treat you truly want to enjoy.
If you find yourself craving sugar often, this may be a sign from your body that you need more nutrients or water. Do you really want the treat? Or is your body craving the nutrients it deserves to keep your joints and body thriving? As Dr. Hyman says, the best way to stop leaning into sugar is to consume more real foods like protein, healthy fats, and vegetables such as green beans and mushrooms!
Set a treat limit.
Depriving yourself of the things you enjoy is not a healthy habit. Having a piece of candy now and then won’t be the end of the world. But eating a whole bag of candy can harm your body. Think about the emotional toll eating these foods can take. How do you feel after enjoying one or two treats versus an entire bag? If you want to enjoy your favorite treats this season, that’s okay. Just make a plan to do so in moderation.
Let me share Chris’s plan. Chris loves mini Milky Way Bars and can eat a whole bag, no problem. He knows that doing so will not set him up for success in his Hinge Health goals of keeping his knees strong and losing five pounds by Thanksgiving.
Chris decided to limit himself to buying one bag of mini Milky Way Bars at the grocery store this season as a goal. From that bag he would allow himself one mini candy bar a day. To hold himself accountable to that plan, he shared it with his wife and agreed that if he caved to his cravings he would owe her $200 for a shopping spree. This not only motivated him, it also prevented him from buying more than one bag of the candy bars.
Move the temptation out of your view.
If the candy bowl sits on your kitchen counter, you’ll be more inclined to grab a piece every time you go in your kitchen. What do you do when, leaving a restaurant, you notice the mints on the counter? Seeing the bowl of candy triggers your brain to want some. If your candy is hidden out of sight, it will take more effort to get to it and enjoy it.
Out of sight, out of mind really does play a vital role in not getting tricked by the treats! One of the best hiding ideas I’ve heard is to put the treats in a dark-colored bin in the pantry on a tall shelf that’s hard to reach. Better yet, have your spouse or partner hide the container.
Lastly, if you do plan to enjoy some treats, stay aware of how much you’re consuming. Keeping a food journal or using some sort of digital food tracker can help you be aware of how a treat will affect your day. Then you’re in control and can decide if it’s worth it or not. There are 250 calories in that pumpkin spice cookie!? No thank you! But, 100 calories for a mini candy? Maybe!
The daily nutrition choices you make truly do play a role in how your mind, body, and joints feel. By creating a plan to handle your treats you’re taking control of your health! And by using movement as medicine like our participants do, you’ll keep your body stronger and more flexible. Remember, your coaches can help you embrace healthy habits that will last a lifetime. So enjoy Halloween and the holiday season, but don’t be tricked by those treats!
If you’re an employer or health plan and would like to learn more about Hinge Health’s clinical care model and more holistic approach to resolving chronic pain, you can request a demo below. If you’re an employee, ask your employer or health plan about Hinge Health.
Brandi Mazzuca is a certified Health Coach from the Institute of Transformational Nutrition. She has 8 years of coaching experience with weight loss and chronic pain management. She loves helping others create their healthiest life on their own terms. When Brandi’s not coaching, you can find her near the ocean, or at some sort of concert or music festival with family and friends.