Does the day after Halloween make you feel like a kid again, excited to have all those little treats around the house? Or are you filled with dread right about now, fearful that all the time you've put in at the gym lately is about to get derailed?
Fear not -- it's just a little candy. (And hey, isn't it supposed to be for the kids, anyway? Go return all those Reese's cups to your high-schooler's stash, if you're that worried about it!) ... Unless you're trying to spare your child or teenager from all the sugar. That's respectable, at least.
Well, first of all, let's assess what you're trying to minimize: the damage to your teeth, or the damage to your waistline.
Let's talk teeth
Believe it or not, the experts say if you're worried about cavities, you might as well just eat it all. Yes, you read that correctly, even though you might be chuckling to yourself right about now.
The idea is, according to Time magazine, if you go to town on your kid's candy stash all in one sitting -- even though that's not the healthiest thing to do, considering the rest of your body -- it's still better on your teeth, instead of having that sugar in your mouth day in and day out for the next few weeks or even months.
Sure, if you're a religious teeth-brusher and flosser, and you're sure you're going to get it all off, then maybe this isn't a concern for you. But for a lot of us, it's not realistic to think we're going to brush "dutifully after every piece," as the article says.
But one sugar session, no matter how sinful, won't do much damage to your teeth. There's not much difference between eating one Snickers or three, the experts said.
If you're looking for a way to show some kind of restraint, one dentist advised people to pick out their absolute favorite pieces of candy, saving the calories and the damage for only the best varieties, and then bring the rest to some type of candy buyback program.
A final note on the dental front: Caramels, hard candies, candy corn and gummies are a lot harder to get off your teeth than say, chocolate, which dissolves fairly easily, all things considered, another dentist said. So maybe that Crunch bar isn't such an irresponsible choice after all.
OK, but what about the calories?
In another article from Time magazine, this one more focused on the nutrition side of the conundrum, a dietitian said not to eat the candy on its own -- instead, pair it with protein, healthy fat or fiber. Think: Real food, or a real meal.
This will help slow the absorption of sugar into your bloodstream, which will protect your insulin levels from spiking and then crashing. High insulin levels may be linked with obesity, Type 2 diabetes and even some types of cancer, according to research mentioned in the article.
An even better solution
For another "healthier" idea, you could have a piece of candy or two with your post-workout protein shake.
"After a workout, your cells are basically looking to replenish themselves," one dietitian said. "(Physical activity burns through glycogen — a stored form of glucose) and you can quickly replace that by having more of a fast-absorbing sugar. You want to have that together with some protein that's going to help rebuild and repair any muscle tearing that happened during the exercise."
And there you have it. If you're worried about your teeth, down your candy today. And if you're worried about your nutrition, pop that Almond Joy with your Muscle Milk. File both of those recommendations under "doctor's orders." (Well, we'll let you decide if that's advice you'd be willing to take).