4 Tricks to Kick Your Candy Cravings to the Curb


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  79 comments   :  21,952 Views

You've probably already faced your share of tempting bite-size candies and seasonal desserts over the past few weeks, but tomorrow is the day that candy will find its way into your home, office or Halloween party venue (if it hasn't already).

So how are you going to avoid the temptation? How can you stop yourself from eating too many of those cute little treats before it's too late? Good questions. I have a big sweet tooth myself. I love candy, desserts and sweets—I am only human. But I do try to make healthful choices about what I eat and enjoy treats within moderation, which usually means turning them down more often than I eat them. It isn't always easy, but it IS possible. So here are some of my very own tricks to prevent overeating on Halloween candy—and kick those cravings for good!

Freshen Up
This is an age-old tip to prevent mindless eating and overeating, but it really does work. Brushing your teeth frequently (or chewing a strong, minty gum) makes all sorts of foods—including candy—unpalatable. Just think about drinking orange juice after brushing your teeth in the morning…not tasty. When candy is around, arm yourself with minty fresh breath. It's a lot easier to say not to treats when you don't want to disrupt that fresh, clean flavor in your mouth. This trick can also work if you find yourself losing control of your cravings. For example, if you ate one or two pieces of candy and find yourself uncontrollably reaching for another, stop that cycle by brushing your teeth before you think about taking another bite.

Don't Have Just One
I know this is going to make me sound like a food control freak, but hang with me here. When faced with a dishful of tiny treats (or any other food temptation), what's easier: Not eating the food at all OR eating one bite and then stopping? Really think about your habits and eating history. For me—and I think most people—eating some and then stopping is much, much harder than just turning it down completely. After all, who can stop after just one bite, lick or taste when more food is still right there in front of you? I find that it's way harder to stop once you get going, especially if you have any emotional or mindless eating tendencies. Remember this next time you're faced with Halloween treats and think, "I'll have just one." If you can't really trust yourself to stop, then don't even start.

Distract Yourself
When it comes to treats, we usually don't even know we "want" them until we see them. It's not that we're craving candy corn or Twizzlers all day every day. But when you see them in the office candy jar or on the end cap at Target, well, you remember how good they are and then you think you want them. Out of sight, out of mind. Don't even go to the Halloween section of the store—even if you know it's 75% off today. Bypass the candy aisle and keep your gaze on the tabloid magazines when in the checkout line. If the office candy jar is calling your name, choose another route and walk around it or divert your gaze to look away from it. If someone brings in pumpkin doughnuts to the office today, avoid stopping in the kitchen or by their desk until it's likely that every other person has done it before you (and eaten them all up). If you're faced with a craving that you feel like you're obsessing over, try a 10-minute distraction technique. Go for a walk, answer some of those emails that have been in your inbox for days, or play a simple mind game on your iPhone. Anything you can do to take your mind off the food will certainly help you remain in control.

Choose Wisely, Eat Mindfully
It's not realistic to turn down every treat or temptation—and no one should have to! Holidays are fun and so are the foods that come with them. The above techniques will work well if you're trying to stick with your healthy eating plan or control your calories. But sometimes, it's best to just give in and enjoy a little fun. When you consciously choose to enjoy a treat, first, choose wisely. Pick your absolute favorite. Save your calories for the treat that will be most worthwhile to you (and use the tricks above for avoid foods that aren't really worth the calories). Don't waste your calories on candies you don't really love just because they're around. When you're ready to eat, do so without distraction. Focus on that treat. Notice how it feels in your mouth, its texture and its flavor. Eat slowly and mindfully. The more you can really focus on the treat of your choice, without distraction, the more satisfied you with feel, and the more in-control you will remain. When you take the time to really taste and enjoy something, you won't feel the need to keep eating more, and you'll kick those cravings to the curb before you've gone overboard.

Do any of these four techniques help you stay in control around Halloween treats (or other temptations)? How do YOU enjoy treats without going overboard?

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  • 79
    I must be crazy I was eating some candy blocks I got from Christmas while reading this - shameful. - 4/20/2015   8:09:23 PM
  • 78
    I love the idea of brushing your teeth or chewing mint gum. I know that my father bushes his teeth after every meal and he has done very well in keeping his weight under control. I have to admit that when I brush my teeth after dinner I don't want to brush them again so I am far less tempted to snack so I guess I should get into this habit for all meals. - 10/29/2010   9:41:53 AM
  • POODA22
    Since my sister passed and like 3 weeks before I notice my eating habits have increase alot what can I do to get back on track.I have gain @ least 20 pounds in the last month - 10/29/2010   8:59:34 AM
  • 76
    I appreciate the tips...heading to brush my teeth now.

    I love sweets and once I have one I go downhill VERY quickly ... I am tracking today despite all of my sweet treats. - 10/28/2010   3:02:24 PM
  • 75
    Good tips. My brother and I were just talking last weekend about how much easier it is to "just say no" than to eat just one. - 11/4/2009   8:32:15 PM
    I am very emotional and there is always candy in the office. No matter how many times I tell myself or even visualize me ignoring the candy dish I end up in it anyway. - 11/3/2009   5:58:33 PM
  • 73
    The way I enjoy treats without going overboard is to find something I like to replace my FAVORITES?
    There are some things I've had to eliminate completely.
    1. Dark Chocolate Macadamia nuts – I have no control, I will eat until they are gone. I can have a few Dk choc Pistachio nuts and stop
    2. Girl Scout Thin Mints and every other cookie, store bought cake, pie or bread. An occasional tiny bit of something fresh baked is much more satisfying.
    3. Candy bars even the minis – yogurt raisins or dried berries
    4. Fruit juices – instead I juice fresh fruit or drink water
    - 11/3/2009   3:41:56 PM
  • 72
    I had a bad day Sunday with candy, but since them I am doing okay. Sugarless gum works well, & distaction can too. I will have to remember to brush my teeth earlier in evening too , so I won't be tempted. All very good strategies! - 11/3/2009   2:58:13 PM
  • 71
    Some really good advice. Especially "bet you can't eat one"...none is easier. - 11/3/2009   12:53:53 PM
  • TERI99
    Good tips. I do think the teeth brushing one is helpful, or putting one of those Listerine strips in your mouth. That strong minty taste does render the thought of chocolate a bit less tempting.
    I do however like to take just a small piece of something tempting. My trick is to remind myself that I am going to record it. One bite will satisfy my craving and temptation without making the day a bust. It does help to walk away after the one bite, though! - 11/3/2009   8:08:23 AM
  • 69
    Excellent ideas. I love the tooth brushing one. I just hope I can actually remember to do it when the time comes. I'm the type that when something tempts me to the point of eating it, everything else goes out the window. I don't even stop to consider another option. I may have to put this one in big red letters on my fridge! - 11/2/2009   11:31:40 PM
    The tooth brush act wont help me only because where I work, but Ill try the walking away and focusing on other things. I so glad I read this article today because I did exactly the opposite. I went into the office and there it was a bowl of chocolate candy(couldnt resist) so I did the unthinkable I ate a piece, wasnt that great either so i didnt eat any more. Also I was thinking about the75% off of the candy in the stores and coulnt wait to get some but I was too tired to stop, thank god I didnt, now that I read this article I do thank you, surley needed it - 11/2/2009   8:05:58 PM
  • 67
    There is a candy dish right outside my office door. I use to have a battle not going over and grabbing some, but since I have been with sparkpeople I have completely stayed away from it. I find that when I get a craving I go and drink a glass of water, if that doesn't work I grab an apple and that usually always works. - 11/2/2009   1:35:10 PM
    I have another tip: Eat the candy that you don't really like!

    In my office, there's always somebody who brings in a some mixed Halloween candy, and in it is always some sort of chocolate-sugary candy that I don't really like, but will still satisfy my sweet tooth. It's really easy to just have one of something you don't really care for! - 11/2/2009   11:14:17 AM
    the article had some helpful hints, but you forgot one little trick. Pick the fruit of the season. It is healthier and probably with fewer calories, besides it tastes better and fresher. - 11/2/2009   8:00:29 AM
    Thank you for an article filled with very useful, practical advice. I have personally made habit #4 "Choose Wisely, Eat Mindfully" a part of my dietary lifestyle. - 11/2/2009   5:48:36 AM
    Thanks for sharing, these are all really great ideas that I have really never thought of, I have 3 children that went out trick or treating, they each got a huge bag of candy, when they came home ill I could think of is, how was I going to have the will power to stay away from their candy, I am a sucker for the mini candy bars and tootsie rolls. none of which are any good for you, (I told my children to hide there candy from me, but still that didnt work I accidently found there candy while looking in the pantry. needless to say I ate a few peices, when I actually only wanted one.)
    I am going to try brushing my teeth more often and carry big packs of gum on me at all times. hope this will help, thanks for the wonderful ideas. - 11/2/2009   4:19:23 AM
  • 62
    They all sound wonderful Coach. Last night though I seriously needed a muzzle. All said and done I can hear the Black eyed Peas song....."It's a NEW day!" - 11/1/2009   5:44:17 PM
  • 61
    Someone asked me why I run. I freely admitted to her that I run for chocolate! I prefer dark, and save most of my calories for that. And yes, I usually hold out for 'the good stuff'! SINCE my weight is where I want it, and SINCE I am able to eat in moderation and SINCE I am active enough to work off the calories, I don't worry about it. If those weren't true, I would follow these great suggestions. - 11/1/2009   2:31:51 PM
  • 60
    I am not one who believes I must always "just say no". When I do that, I wind up eating everything in the kitchen trying to make up for what I'm denying myself, then that item as well. Your hints are great! I know several of them work well for me already - especially holding out for really GOOD quality chocolate or ice cream and never eating the cheap versions. I'm going to try the mint/tooth brushing idea too. I've learned, in this cold season, that those over-the-counter zinc based cold prevention medicines do a GREAT job of killing my appetite. (What an awful after taste!) And for Halloween, I bought candy I would never eat myself. I have nearly half a bag leftover from last night & can't wait to get it out of my house - not because I'm afraid I'll eat it, but because I KNOW I won't! - 11/1/2009   10:15:46 AM
  • 59
    I'm like you I go brush my teeth and its hard to say yes to candy when I know I have to go back in and brush my teeth again. I have offered this tip to other people too. Also when I was a waitress I brushed my teeth when on break for lunch or supper and I told other people there that they could get more cavities if they didn''t brush their teeth. it also helped from snacking on the food when waiting on tables. There's also mistakes you eat. So I kept away from them. Not that it helped me keep my teeth but it did keep my breath fresh. - 11/1/2009   9:25:17 AM
  • 58
    I also agree with the "Don't Have Just One" rule too. But do you know how often I hear. "Oh just one won't hurt you!" I really hate that attitude! Would you offer just one cigarette to someone who quit smoking or one beer to an alcoholic? Of course not but people say that to me all the time! They just don't understand that I can't just have one. It sets me up to eat til it is all gone. And even worse it makes me want to eat ANYTHING even though I am not hungry.
    - 11/1/2009   8:26:09 AM
    I'm getting great dental check-ups because I brush my teeth to keep my sweet tooth at bay (it's a chore to floss, water pik, brush... so I don't want to undo the clean feeling anyway). I also bought myself 'trick or treat' popcorn balls (100-calories) and never touched the other candy because "I had my own." - 11/1/2009   1:24:24 AM
  • 56
    I realize that I do better if/when I don't have a piece of that candy. This blog doesn't just apply to halloween, it applies to anytime. In my office, someone is always bringing something in throughout the week. These tips will come in handy. Another option is to NOT eat at my desk. - 10/31/2009   11:48:12 PM
    I'm glad I'm not too much into candy. My thing is cakes and pies. I hope I make it thru Thanksgiving and Christmas. - 10/31/2009   10:00:18 PM
  • MBOB4921
    Thanks for some great ideas. - 10/31/2009   5:58:54 PM
    Awesome suggestions. I do like some candy, but if I don't have the first one it is easier to just not have any - 10/31/2009   5:45:31 PM
  • 52
    Thanks for the great blog. we all can use tricks like these to control "treats." - 10/31/2009   5:16:43 PM
  • 51
    I definitely go with the just don't eat it - though it's tough. Spark challenges has really helped me and once I avoid it, it gets easier... - 10/31/2009   4:49:18 PM
  • 50
    I just received an email from a friend who let me know that this year her kids' school is collecting food for the food bank instead of candy. You have to be proud of them. - 10/31/2009   3:48:38 PM
  • 49
    I just read a great suggestion. Have your kids trade their treats for a small prize or a day out with mom/dad. Also what the article suggested was giving your candy to a charity b/c they can always use them for treats for other things. Maybe I read the article on here, but I never thought about giving the candy to a charity organization. I guess you would have to call around to those in your area and see if they could use it. I like the trading candy for time with mom/dad. They did say to let your child have a little bit and then do the treats with the rest of it. - 10/31/2009   1:32:49 PM
  • 48
    I simply don't have candy in my apartment and with no kids or trick-or-treaters, I don't have to worry about it. I brush and floss my teeth after supper so I don't feel like snacking on anything. That has always worked for me. - 10/31/2009   11:40:06 AM
  • 47
    Can't deal with candy of any kind...so I don't! There hasn't been any in our home for at least a couple of years. We give apples to trick-or-treaters, not that we get that many...now they're non-existent...lol!

    Don, Co-Leader of All Health Professionals, Binghamton Area Losers and Laid Off But Staying Strong SparkTeams - 10/31/2009   10:20:26 AM
  • 46
    I do best if I NEVER start eating candy. - 10/31/2009   9:47:13 AM
    Candy is easy for me to resist. I don't really care for chocolate, except for the unsweetened cocoa powder I add to my chili recipe, and anything with sugar gives me diarrhea. That seemed to happen when I swore off sugar for about a year, when prices were $1.00 a pound and I had a sugar-eating family. I couldn't really control their intake as much as I could my own, so I consumed NO sugar at all for a year, until the prices came back down to normal. Then I tried to go back to sugar, but my body rejected it by giving me diarrhea with even a teaspoon of sugar. It's been that way ever since. Lucky me! - 10/31/2009   7:39:36 AM
  • 44
    Good suggestions; I'll try these. In our office there is always a bag of junk open and I'm always finding ways to say no politely when it kills me to walk by them. - 10/31/2009   5:42:25 AM
  • 43
    I will do all of these things and try my best at cutting down on candy this year. I usually take alot from my kids candy. But, all my boys are too big for Trick or Treating now. That's gonna save me alot of calories right there. HAVE A HAPPY HALLOWEEN NO MATTER WHAT AND JUST MODERATION IS THE KEY! - 10/31/2009   3:15:20 AM
  • 42
    Hoping these suggestions will help...it causes a bit of pain to think about how much candy, cakes and goodies I ate a year ago on Halloween - 10/31/2009   12:27:04 AM
  • 41
    I will definitely try these suggestions. I am one of those people that need to not indulge or I have a hard time stopping. Had birthday treats this week and having a hard time getting totally back on track. Will try the toothbrushing. A person can never brush their teeth too much. - 10/30/2009   11:09:40 PM
  • 40
    I could be the candy queen, but since I started spark in 2008 I have not had any candy. It tends to be one of my trigger foods that I stay away from. I chew gum and the more minty the better and it does help those urges. - 10/30/2009   10:54:40 PM
  • 39
    My son did his trick or treating today, so the candy's in the house. Most of it I don't care for...but I forgot how much I love Smarties...and they're in the house (except for the two I ate at work!)...and my son is gone all weekend at his dad's...and Smarties are in the house...and I think I'll have to be out of the house a lot walking!!! Thanks for the ideas...I'll be using them! - 10/30/2009   10:24:02 PM
  • 38
    Oh Boy.....Tomorrow night will be a HUGE challenge not to mention the days afterwards. My DH also bought a ton of candy.....the kind I love.....and I know we will not give it all out. I hope to keep coming to this site for the encouragement I need to lay off the stuff. I LOVE Snickers. I will plan to have one each day for a couple of days and then NO MORE!!! Good luck everyone....:o) - 10/30/2009   7:47:19 PM
  • 37
    I agree with avoiding rather than saying just one. I can not take a small bit of something I truly truly love and then stop, so I just don't start on it at all. It works for me. - 10/30/2009   4:22:08 PM
  • 36
    These are terrific suggestions! My husband bought two huge bags of candy last week and miracle or miracles, neither has been opened yet. I hope to give most of it away. I might save up some calories so I can have a piece or two tomorrow night, but I am an emotional eater, so I think avoiding the first bite is a good strategy for me.
    Thanks for this! - 10/30/2009   3:12:49 PM
  • 35
    BODY! - 10/30/2009   2:16:47 PM
  • 34
    The "don't go to the candy aisle" is a great tip except they put the candy everywhere. I work at Wal-Mart. I not only deal with looking at the candy everyday, but the chips, pop, cookies and everything else multiple times per day. I think this has helped build my willpower however. I don't give in to these items, even if they are on sale. Sometimes it is hard, but somehow, I have more willpower than I thought. - 10/30/2009   1:55:24 PM
  • 33
    Most of the time these work great for me but lately I've been home sick and these distraction techniques aren't working. Right now, for me, it's like placing a monkey in a single space cage and a banana and is not allowed to eat it. lol - 10/30/2009   1:54:51 PM
  • 32
    I'm lucky in that I can stop at one piece. ;) I've had a bag of Peanut Butter Mary Janes (those cheap molasses taffies with PB inside. The usually have orange and black wrappers around Halloween and you either love them or hate them! I love them and am super happy they are vegan!) stashed in my pantry. There are about oh, 30 pieces in the bag? I bought it at least 5 months ago. I've just been doling them out one at a time since then.

    I also have a bag of a dozen cookies I bought 6-8 months ago stashed in my freezer. If I really need a cookie, I'll defrost one. I've still got 3 of the dozen left. ;) I also can make a candy bar (omg, I found vegan snickers!!!) last months. I cut them into fourths and put them in the fridge. I usually don't crave them but when I do (TOM is evil) I can stop with the fourth of a bar.

    Salty things are much worse for me as far as overdoing it.
    Crunchy salty chips? NomNOMNOM. I have to count out a serving and put the bag away, pronto. Out of sight is (usually) out of mind. - 10/30/2009   1:28:17 PM
  • 31
    I'm more of a chocoholic so when Halloween comes I buy candy that is "not" chocolate like skittles and such. This keeps me for eating it. If I want candy I try to chew gum first. Wrigleys Extra Fruit Sensations, berry flavor has worked well for me. If that doesn't work I try and split a package of candy with someone instead of eating it all myself. It's working. My biggest down fall is chocolate, but I am learning to curb that desire. - 10/30/2009   1:08:21 PM
  • 30

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