It’s Halloween week!  The stores have been filled with costumes, decorations and candy for months! 

It is difficult enough to avoid these temptations when they are in the stores.  The big day, October 31, unlocks the floodgates of opened candy bags everywhere.  It will be in our homes in greater abundance if we have children or offer treats on Halloween night.  Our co-workers will fill the candy jars on their desks with even more carefree abandon.  After Halloween the stores will slash the prices, making it nearly impossible not to buy a bag or two. 

Candy will lie forgotten and neglected in our children’s bedrooms and around the house.  (How well I remember days of the past, when I’d spend far too many hours cleaning children’s bedrooms and putting away laundry – nibbling all the way on candy from their bags.) 

The best candy choices to have around the house consist of hard candy (such as a Tootsie Pop) that lasts a long, long time for about 40 calories.  The worst of course, are the chocolates that quickly melt in your mouth. As a general rule of thumb, anything that takes longer to eat will be lower in calories.  (Think of the time it takes to eat carrots, celery, apples and whole-wheat cereal, compared to the time to consume candy, cake and white flour/white sugar foods.)

One cute family I know helps their children choose 10 favorite treats after the first day of fun playing with their candy. They put those selected treats in a zip-lock bag to enjoy whenever.  The rest they put out on the front porch for the “November Witch” to pick up on the night of November 1.  The November Witch leaves a non-candy prize to discover the next morning in exchange for the candy. 

Really, it’s the sport of it all that’s the most fun and for children the novelty of the candy can easily be over within 24-48 hours.  It’s the adults who have a harder time letting go!

 

Halloween iStock SeanLockeFor children, the joy of Halloween candy is in the acquisition, not the eating. iStockphoto.com/Sean Locke 

Almost worse than the candy itself is the future of the next several days/weeks/months that comes when we get sidetracked with Halloween treats.  It’s easy to abandon our healthy vegetables and balanced eating as the spikes in sugar make us hungry for even more of the tasty stuff.  The quickest and best answer to guard against these spikes is to make sure there’s a bit of lean protein several times a day.  Whether it’s a bit of meat, a hard-boiled egg or some nuts, food cravings are not for more candy; they’re your body saying “I’m hungry for real food.”  It helps to member that.

Nevertheless, guilt is the most fattening thing around, so decide which treats you really want/like the most.  Determine the calorie count, and include them in your plan!  Here’s a link to help you out.  You’re going to love this little candy counter! 

More important than any candy counter to keep us on track, however, are the Lord’s love and the big picture:

Today’s Scripture:  “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious unto you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.”  (Numbers 6:24-26)

“… and give you peace .”  How I love this!  How we need it!  It is marvelous how he gives us this peace us by graciously keeping us, even as he keeps  the sun upon the flowers.  It is interesting that he doesn’t take our difficulties from us, he keeps them, knowing we’ll grow and be just fine with his tender loving care.

This scripture provides a vision of the Savior shining upon us (to literally shed some light and provide direction) and smiling upon us (to literally lift and cheer us) and can immediately lighten the burdens that cause us to overeat or mindlessly indulge. 

What shall we ask him to keep as we take each step forward on our journey to health – especially through the treacherous stretch before us through Halloween and into the holidays? How about help in keeping perspective?  Help in keeping bright and shiny the truth that the required days, weeks, months and even years to achieve our goal are short compared to the remainder of the days that extend (and will even be literally lengthened and extended) as we make healthy choices and exercise?

How about having help to keep us focused and committed?  Or help in keeping us from expecting others to change? Or to keep us from guilt and regrets of the past, and the sadness those detours (strongly endorsed  by Satan himself) bring?  Guilt and regrets so often lead to comfort food, which provides no comfort at all!  And here’s why:

Food cannot comfort you because:

  1. The pain will still be there after the food is gone.
  2. Eating only makes you feel full, not happy.
  3. After you’ve eaten, you have two problems – the one you ate to hide from and your physical discomfort.
  4. No matter how much you eat, even if you go on a month-long binge, the feelings will someday come back to haunt you.
  5. Eating can’t make illness, rejection, sadness, loneliness, or fears of any kind go away.

God has offered countless times to take our burdens from us, and to literally keep us safe as he comforts.  Asking for help in keeping our healthy living choices going through October, November and December will be most acceptable to Him, the Master Keeper.

And what can we keep on our own?  The unfailing knowledge that He loves us (no matter what we weight) and that appropriately caring for our bodies is an expression of gratitude and respect to Him.

Precious keepers – from Him and for Him!  How can we not keep to our path when He’s the keeper of it?
Surely no Almond Joy or other Halloween treat offers that ultimate joy and comfort!

Empowerment:  “The Lord is keeping me close to Him today so that I can keep the promises I have made to care for my body and health.  I now ask Him to help me keep my health goals front and center as the last quarter of the year and the holidays begin to arrive.”

Today’s Journal Prompts/Discussion Starters:

  1. How have I managed Halloween candy in the past?  What do I want to do differently?
  2. Which are my favorite treats?  Carefully think and decide.  We can have anything we want – in moderation. 
  3. Practice saying “No, thanks!” to others.
  4. Practice saying “Nothing tastes as good as thin feels” to yourself.

Today’s Recipe:  Progresso Lentil Soup
My husband has always enjoyed Progresso’s Lentil Soup.  I’ve found a recipe that matches the wonderful flavor.  It’s also easy and delicious.  It’s a large batch, but refrigerates well so I promise it won’t go begging!

1  tsp. olive oil
2 onions chopped
2 celery stalks, diced
1 tsp. chopped garlic (from the little jars or 4 chopped cloves)
1 cup uncooked lentils
1 8-oz can tomato sauce
1 cups low sodium beef broth (or 1 bouillon cube + 1 cup water)
4 tsp. dried oregano (I use dried Italian seasoning)
One 10-oz. pkg. frozen, chopped spinach, thawed

In a Dutch oven, heat oil. Add onions, celery and garlic. Cook until tender, about 5 minutes.

Add lentils, tomato sauce, broth, oregano and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, covered, stirring as needed until the lentils are tender, about 45 minutes.

Stir in spinach and cook for another 5-10 minutes, until spinach is heated through.

(9 g Dietary Fiber; 260 Calories; 6 g Fat; 40 g Carb)