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Coping with post-Halloween candy madness

Halloween is only one day out of 365…so what’s wrong with a few pieces of candy? Absolutely nothing…and this is coming from an unofficial ‘food cop.’ Halloween is fun – for children and adults. A few sweet treats won’t do much harm. The problem isn’t just about ‘one day.’ It’s about the days after….when all of the leftover candy you have in your home is staring you in the face – from the stash you doled out to neighbors to the bucketful your little ghost brought home. If you are like most American adults, you buy what you love…just in case there are a few pieces of candy leftover. I mean, you wouldn’t want to be stuck with candy you don’t like! These strategies work great for kids but also can be modified for ‘adult children…’

The best strategy when it comes to dealing with your child’s Halloween ‘earnings’ is to have him/her pick out their absolute favorites. Of course, you should have a (limited) quantity in mind ahead of time. These treats can be doled out carefully, prudently and sparingly after meals over the next few weeks. Just limit the quantity. If you have generous neighbors that gave out large candy bars, unwrap them, cut them into small pieces and freeze them. They’ll last and defrost in a lunchbox. In general try to avoid hard nougat, toffee and taffy candies that grind into teeth and are ‘sticky’ as they are prime cavity-causers. Best bet: dark chocolate pieces which offer some antioxidant benefits and less butter-fat than milk chocolate.

Just because your child doesn’t like all of the candy he/she was given doesn’t mean they’ll part with it easily! Offer something better. This might even work with the beloved candies. Use pieces as ‘currency.’ Set a price (pieces of candy) to purchase or trade in for a new game, toy or even an outing (such as a bowling party with friends). If your child wants a treat for a treat…have him trade in a few pieces for a better choice that you buy, such as a Nabisco 100-calorie packs® (portion-controlled). Oreo Thin Wafer Crisps™, Honey Maid Cinnamon Thin Crisps™ and Chips Ahoy! Thin Crisps™ are reasonable options. Make sure to serve a snack pack with something healthy, like a glass of milk or a piece of string cheese.

To keep things in perspective, all of these treats (in quantity listed) provide approximately 100 calories:

  • 15 jelly beans/22 jelly bellies®
  • 1-oz licorice
  • 25 plain M&Ms®
  • 1 Kind 100-calorie bar
  • 2 Tootsie pops®
  • 5 Werther’s Original® candies
  • 13 gummy bears®
  • 10 York Peppermint Patty® bites
  • 16 pieces of candy corn
  • 4 bite-sized 3-Muskateer® candies

When planning your ‘treat’ (or your child’s treat) keep calories in mind, and in control.

Eating with a Purpose in Mind

In the United States, you strive to do more with less, get the most bang for your buck. You may search out products and places that are multi-functional or duel performers. Consider multi-purpose products, such as cellular telephones, that also work as day timers, alarms and cameras or face creams that not only moisturize but also exfoliate the skin while nourishing it with vitamins. These days, it’s preferable for many to save time by doing all the shopping at ONE ‘superstore,’ that sells food, clothes, prescriptions and cosmetics.

If you demand multi-purpose stores and products…why don’t you expect the same from the foods you eat? Doesn’t it make sense to choose foods that nourish your body AND perform other functions at the same time? Yes, it does!

“A purposeful diet is one that includes foods that are true multitaskers. Such foods may aid in weight management, help prevent chronic disease, control inflammation, strengthen your immune system, nourish you with energy AND/OR offer mental health benefits.”

Nearly 2/3 of Americans are obese, relying heavily of filling, tasty foods that offer energy but little else. Heart disease, diabetes and cancer are on the rise. Whole foods trump vitamin supplements. You cannot bottle flavonoids (substances responsible for the color of produce) that enhance immunity while giving foods like grapes and cabbage a purple hue. For better health, eat fresh foods (in season) available from your local farmer’s markets. Explore the wide variety of healthy foods at many major supermarkets that at one time were only available only at health food stores. What do you have to lose…compared to what you can gain?? Make one substitution per day. Get the most ‘bang for your buck’ with these easy swaps:

Instead of:

A handful of jellybeans » handful of dried apricots

Strawberry milkshake » a fruit smoothie made with non-fat soymilk, frozen, unsweetened fruit and a splash of orange juice

A shmear of mayonnaise » ⅛ mashed avocado

White pasta » cooked pearled barley or quick-cooking brown rice

Other multipurpose foods include apples, grapes, oranges and kiwi fruits, walnuts, almonds and peanuts, fresh spinach, broccoli, onions, garlic and sweet potatoes, fresh fish (tuna, mackerel, halibut, salmon), seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, sesame) and legumes (lentils and beans) are just some of the foods that meet the criteria for being multi-purpose. In addition to energy, they provide vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber and other compounds, such as antioxidants. These compounds promote optimal health and help fight disease. Herbs and spices such as cinnamon, tumeric, parsley and basil contain these compounds as well.

Strive to consciously choose foods that provide much more than energy or calories. Every day, aim to eat 2 cups, or the equivalent, of fruits and 2.5 cups of vegetables, and shoot for maximum variety. In addition, include soy or non-fat milk or yogurt products, a variety of whole grains, such as buckwheat, quinoa, barley and oats, lean protein foods, such as fish, legumes and poultry and unsaturated fats. “Healthier” fats come from foods such as olive and canola oil, nuts and seeds and avocados.

Ten Tips for Achieving Better Work Life Balance

We are all looking to achieve optimal work/personal life balance. Consider the following tips for getting closer to reaching your best by establishing a routine that works for you. Whether you work from home (WFH) or commute to an office every day, even adopting one of these tips and putting it into practice will make a difference.

1. Work From Home tip – finish working on time. Work in a separate, designated office, room or workspace with natural light.

2. Keep your office and home surroundings organized and tidy. Go though closets, drawers, cabinets and get rid of ‘stuff’ that’s weighing you down.

3. When/if you get bored or ‘burned out,’ freshen up your routine (activities, hobbies, foods, recreation).

4. Take a lunch break away from your desk, for at least 30 minutes.

5. Avoid overbooking/over scheduling your days/time.

6. Stay on track with 5 essential tasks/day that get you closer to meeting your goals.

7. Read and then re-read emails before sending them. Keep them short, to the point, positive and professional – a reflection of you.

8. Make a note (journal) of the lesson/what you learned from making a mistake/a wrong choice so you don’t repeat it.

9. Group like tasks together in a comfortable, efficient and orderly manner. Avoid jumping around from task to task. Establish a flow to your day that makes sense.

10. Whenever you have a break, squeeze in a walk. Prioritize exercise, at least 15 minutes, either before or after work.