Halloween Tips and Tricks on Foiling Treats

Halloween Tips and Tricks on Foiling Treats

Very soon it will be Halloween, the start of a holiday season that researchers warn adds an average of eight pounds — if you’re not careful about sweets and snacks.


Nurses have a lot of practice saying “no” to treats at work – boxes of candy from grateful families to trays of pastries from coworkers. Temptations abound, but they become especially intense during the next two months of the year.

Of course, we love getting together with teammates to mark Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, Solstice, or the New Year. Plus, we’ll continue to toast other happy occasions: birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, graduations, and job promotions.

So what’s the problem? Some surveys show that nurses are more likely to be overweight than the general population. Could the reason be extreme workplace stress and long shift hours? Or maybe it’s because the nurse population is aging, which correlates to a higher BMI.

You may not be able to do anything about events at work or your own slowing metabolism. But you can control your own actions, which will help you keep on the nutritional straight and narrow.

Here are a few ideas that have worked for other nurses:

First try to become aware of any emotional basis for your cravings for sweets and treats. It’ll then be easier to make behavioral changes, which will go a long way toward keeping you at your healthiest weight.

Decide beforehand on your “food rules” for this season, and then don’t deviate from them. For instance, you may decide to bring low-calorie snacks to events so that you’re not so tempted by sugary, fatty, or salty offerings. A cup of cubed cantaloupe is sweet (only 7 grams of natural sugar), while cut vegetables with Greek yogurt dip and air-popped popcorn with chili spices are savory.

Devise a healthy-eating phrase to repeat silently to yourself when you’re most tempted. Here are a few mantras to try this Halloween, and if some prove helpful, to keep handy all year long.

  • “My stress level is through the roof, but chocolate is not the solution.”
  • “Sugar is not the best antidote for fatigue from 12-hour shifts.”
  • “I can accept the good wishes, but resist the treats from families and staff.”
  • “I deserve better than sugary goodies when I work a night shift.”
  • “Sweets can not change my not-so-sweet feelings of anger at work.”

In addition, try to cut out sweets in other areas of your life, too. The American Heart Association says to limit added sugar to 6 teaspoons for women and 9 for men. That’s a tall order when you consider that the American average is 22 to 30 teaspoons a day.

You have to be a good detective because sugar hides where you least expect it, like in coffee drinks. Compare a Starbucks’ Grande Vanilla Latte vs. plain coffee with a packet of sugar. The difference is a whopping 32 grams of sugar!

Of course, plain black coffee would be best, but that would probably be too big a shock to the system for a coffee drinker with a sweet tooth.

It’s better to make small and sustainable changes, such as eating and not drinking your snacks and meals. Fruit smoothies, for instance, enjoy a “health halo” but can pack on the pounds because they’re high-calorie, high-sugar, and apparently innocuous.

Sometimes it doesn’t pay to fight the inevitable, like candy on Halloween, though you can sidestep some of the danger. So, don’t go hog wild but instead enjoy a fun-sized piece of candy (80 calories for most bars), and you won’t do too much damage.

It goes without saying, but don’t be the health saboteur who brings bags of candy to work. Your fellow nurses and other staff members won’t appreciate it.

At home, buy your least favorite candy for trick-or-treaters – and fewer bags than you think you’ll need to prevent leftovers. If you want to avoid temptation altogether, give out mini-toys or stickers instead of sugary treats. In a pinch, just reach into your wallet or piggy bank for some quarters and dimes. The youngest goblins appreciate even pennies!

It’s not easy to limit treats around Halloween, but remember, you’re taking good care of yourself, and setting a good example for your patients.


National Association of Hispanic Nurses Targets Childhood Obesity

National Association of Hispanic Nurses Targets Childhood Obesity

Children and teens across the nation are learning lifestyle changes to keep a healthy weight thanks to an initiative of The National Association of Hispanic Nurses (NAHN) Muevete USA™ Project.

Started in 2011, the aim of the educational project is to raise awareness in the Hispanic community about ways to reduce childhood and adolescent obesity, which is completely preventable. Obesity is the fastest-growing cause of disease and death in the United States, and Hispanics face a greater risk, statistics show.

One in 8 preschoolers is obese in the United States, and it’s even more common in Hispanic and black kids. Obese children are more likely to become obese adults and suffer physical and mental health problems.

The program expanded this year to include families. Nurses teach participants how to make smarter eating decisions by choosing healthy snacks, limiting serving sizes and reading labels. Nurses also combat childhood obesity by encouraging other lifestyle changes, such as increased physical activity to improve confidence and foster a healthy body image. 

Interactive workshops feature the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s My Plate program, healthful snacks and fun family-friendly activities that get everyone moving, such as Zumba, hula hoops and jumping rope. While Latino and Hispanic children are the target audience, children from any ethnic background can participate in the program offered in schools and other community sites.

The good news is programs such as Muevete USA matter.  Recent data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that rates of obesity in early childhood may be dropping for the first time in some states.

Inspired by First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign, the program is funded by a grant from the Coca-Cola Foundation. The project has expanded from five locations to 15. Participating cities this year include: Corpus Christi; Denver; Hartford; Los Angeles; Miami; Philadelphia; San Diego; Phoenix; and, Washington.

While we know that obese youth are more likely to become obese adults, education can make a difference. Nurses in programs like Muevete USA help to short-circuit this pervasive cycle.