Those miniature wrapped candies are so deceiving! Wrapped in bite-sized packages, Halloween candies are seemingly designed for optimal portion control. But just one is never enough. You’ve been there one too many nights come November — surrounded by empty wrappers in front of the television or standing by the pantry, wondering just how on Earth you let this happen again.
You’ve seen all the warning signs about sugar, read all the portion-control advice online. You know the candies are overly processed, loaded with added sugar, and jammed with colorings and chemicals. And yet, it feels like an addiction you can’t shake. It’s spooky how candy after candy seems to make it into your mouth — until you manage to stop and are immediately filled with regret.
Two hours later, and you’re back for more.
Is it an addiction? No — sugar can’t really cause a biological addiction. But what can happen is an increase in temptation every time you tell yourself you shouldn’t have another. And another. And another…
If you’re looking to control your cravings for candy, we suggest doing something that might seem counterintuitive. Try telling yourself you can have candy whenever you want. Then let yourself have it whenever you want — without shame or judgment. When the food is no longer off-limits, no longer making you feel guilty, it feels just like any other food. It’s undeniably delicious, but you only really want to eat it sometimes.
We’ve unfortunately been trained to think of candy as something harmful or shameful, regardless. The resulting temptation can instigate a binge on your sacred stash of sweets and treats. So what is the binge really doing to your body? We’ll break down for you, step by step, what happens when you ingest all that candy all at once.
They say dentists won’t go near Halloween candy. Here’s why: The high sugar content in candy reacts with the bacteria naturally living in your mouth. The result creates an acid that can cause tooth decay and damage enamel. Brush your teeth after eating, though, and you’ll be fine! All that acid gets washed away.
When the body tastes an overly sweet food, it releases dopamine into your system. Dopamine is the body’s “happy hormone” and the effect on your mood is very real. Chocolate really can make you happier — temporarily.
Your body goes to work on ingesting all that sugar and syrup it as soon as it can. Your stomach breaks down the candies and absorbs it all immediately — flushed with tons of energy, your blood glucose spikes.
Similar to salt, too much sugar can cause significant water retention. With the swell of water absorbed into your blood, your body starts to think that it’s dehydrated. You’ll feel really thirsty as a result. This phenomenon is also why it’s not that smart to wash your cookies down with milk — you’re only making the sugary imbalance worse.
It’s an often overlooked organ, so you might not know what your pancreas even does — but it’s your best friend after eating one too many Tootsie Rolls. The pancreas is responsible for releasing insulin, which regulates the rush of sugar racing through your blood. While a one-time binge isn’t going to do much damage, repeatedly overloading your blood with glucose will wear down the body’s release of insulin. This degradation of the natural response to sugar is a risk factor for diabetes.
Ah, the famous sugar high. It is a real thing — this energy spike is a common side effect to the release of insulin in the blood.
The spike in blood sugar wreaks havoc on all kinds of hormones, including cortisol and epinephrine. Both of these hormones can send your heart racing in response.
Your stomach had to work really hard to digest all of those simple sugars and chemicals at once. A natural byproduct of digestion is gas — and excess gas causes bloating. General discomfort, indigestion, and flatulence are also probable side effects.
What goes up must come down. This phrase is as true for your blood sugar as it is with anything else — the inevitable energy crash is not going to be pretty. You might feel sluggish, lethargic, or irritable in the process — all of which, in turn, can make you crave more candy.
Drowning your woes in chocolate is effective in the short term, but after that it’s insanely counterproductive. Spiking your blood sugar messes with your hormones, throwing off the ratio of estrogen to progesterone in the body. Progesterone calms you down, while estrogen has a tendency to increase the intensity of your emotions. By eating all that sugar, you’re setting yourself up for tears and havoc later on.
Remember that plummeting blood sugar? It comes with consequences. The inevitable drop in your blood glucose is bound to make you feel hungry, despite how much you’ve already eaten. This also makes it all too easy to just keep raiding your candy stash and going back for more — break the cycle by eating a full, nutritious meal instead.
When you eat a large number of calories of a non-sugary and nutritious food, your body acknowledges those extra calories and naturally consumes less later on. With sugar-dense foods, though, this is not the case. Your body is still just as hungry for those calories later, since the food you gave it wasn’t all that nutritious. It’s still craving the protein, vitamins, and minerals it needs. So by eating all that candy, you’ve loaded a bunch of “empty” calories to your day without really satiating any hunger. Cue: more eating later on.
Just like eating one slice of pizza doesn’t result in an explosion of fat around your waist, one candy binge won’t do it either. Yes, the extra is stored as fat, but the fat cells are so minimal from a one-time episode that no one could possibly notice the difference.
Changing your entire lifestyle to consist of frequent Halloween candy binges, on the other hand, might cause some weight gain. Faced with repeated overexposure to excess, the body has to deal with the extra energy somehow. But if it’s just the occasional episode of overdoing it, your body can balance itself out.
What isn’t balanced is the amount of candy you somehow still have left over — even after you’ve eaten so much! If Halloween has left you with more candy than you can handle, try repurposing it for one of these delicious desserts.