Healthy Eating in October Takes Willpower

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by Athena Merritt |

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Healthy eating is a year-round struggle for me, but the month of October is when temptation is at its worst. Candy is everywhere. At work. At the doctor’s office. At the bank. And everyone becomes a pusher of sugary treats in the days leading up to Halloween.

“Aww, go ahead, one won’t hurt you,” is the lure that sinks my willpower. And I eat a festive, fun-sized treat, reasoning that it isn’t nearly as bad as its regular-sized counterpart. The problem is that it’s like a potato chip. One leads to another and another, stampeding right over my intentions to eat healthfully.

A healthy diet not only helps to combat chronic pain, but also can reduce the risk of early death linked to consumption of ultra-processed food and red meat. Which is why after a smorgasbord of sugary snacks over the past two weeks, I’m making an effort to get back on track by doing the following: 

Make sleep a priority

I make poor food choices when I don’t get a good night’s rest. It’s not just my imagination. A new study by researchers at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine found that people who are sleep-deprived are more likely to reach for high-fat, calorie-dense food like doughnuts, cookies, and potato chips.

And researchers at the University of Arizona found that poor sleep can lead to a vicious cycle of nighttime snacking that increases junk-food cravings. That’s where I found myself trapped earlier this month. 

Keep the tank full 

Most of us know that grocery shopping on an empty stomach can lead to high-calorie food purchases. But I find an empty stomach makes it harder for me to pass up unhealthy foods anywhere.

I eat a meal before going to work and pack healthy snacks in case I get hungry while I’m out. Nuts are a great go-to snack. A handful a day can help you feel full longer, offset junk-food cravings, and keep you from packing on pounds as you age.

All or nothing

There are numerous ways to fight food cravings. My go-to method is to eliminate the offending food from my diet instead of trying to cut back. That’s how I kicked my ice cream addiction last year. Researchers agree that it’s not effective to simply reduce portion size.

The Halloween season will be over soon. Until then, stay strong!


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