5 Ways to Survive (+ Enjoy!) Candy Season

This time of year presents a great opportunity to wipe the slate clean, make some changes, set new goals, up the ante on the workouts, and recommit to a healthier, more balanced lifestyle. You might be thinking: Halloween is on the horizon. This is the hardest time of year. Holidays are around the corner, etc. 

Many of us have a pattern of going from one extreme to the other between Halloween and the New Year with the best of intentions to play catch up on January 1st…well, actually January 2nd. However, we are also forgetting the fact that January is not actually a clean slate because… 

C A N D Y  S E A S O N 

I am a firm believer in the word moderation, however I think this word can get twisted, turned and used as a justification if we aren’t clear with the definition. Candy should be enjoyed but should not take over our minds, progress or hard-work mentality. Before we get into some strategies on how to stay on track and out of the danger zone, take a look at this candy season timeline for more specifics on how food marketing experts attempt to manipulate our health-conscious efforts for over half of the calendar year.

Pretty insane, right? Food marketers know what they are doing….bait and switch, y’all. However, with all of that said, it is important to realize that it is possible to find a nice balance between candy and salads without sabotaging your diet, workout and “healthier you” efforts. We do not have to be so rigid or restrictive, we just have to increase our self-awareness, educate ourselves on the facts and have a solid game plan.

I am a math girl. I do freaking equations in my head all day because I enjoy it (and I might be slightly ADD). Therefore, we are going to do some calculations right now…with candy. Two of my favorite things, whoop whoop!

Equation #1: Peanut M&M’s

  • One fun-sized pack =  90 calories, 4.7 grams of fat, and 9.1 grams of sugar
  • One regular pack = 250 calories, 13 grams of fat and 25 grams of sugar
  • 3 fun-sized packs = 270 calories, 14.1 grams of fat, 27.3 grams of sugar.

*Three packs of the Fun-Size has more than 1 regular pack. 

Example #2: Snicker’s

  • One fun-sized candy bar =  80 calories, 3.5 grams of fat, and 9 grams of sugar
  • One regular candy bar = 250 calories, 13 grams of fat and 25 grams of sugar
  • 3 fun-sized candy bars = 240 calories, 10.5 grams of fat, 27 grams of sugar

*Three fun-sized bars  have less than 1 regular bar. 

Example #3: Butterfinger

  • One fun-sized candy bar =  85 calories, 3.5 grams of fat, and 8.5 grams of sugar
  • One regular candy bar = 250 calories, 10 grams of fat and 24 grams of sugar
  • 3 fun-sized candy bars = 255 calories, 10.5 grams of fat,  25.5 grams of sugar

*Three fun-Sized candy bars have more than 1 regular pack. 

Example #4: Reese’s Cups

  • One fun-sized cup  = 44 calories, 3 grams of fat and 5 grams of sugar
  • One regular-sized cup =  110 calories, 6.5 grams of fat, and 10.5 grams of sugar
  • 3 fun-sized cups = 132 calories, 9 grams of fat, 15 grams of sugar.  

*Three fun-sized Reese’s cups have more than 1 regular cup. 

I have created a list of tips that my clients (as well as myself!) have found helpful throughout the years, and I hope you can use these strategies to not just find your healthy balance, but also to enjoy candy season in all its glory without letting it take over your mind or health-conscious efforts.

5 Ways to Survive + Enjoy Candy Season

  1. If you’re going to buy candy, don’t buy the 10 pound bag of fun-sized candy just because it is there. Buy a candy bar – one or two. Do you need to buy the big bulk bag 2+ weeks before Halloween? No, you do not. Are you going to keep it in the drawer that long? Or put it out in a bowl, and grab a few pieces every time you walk by it? See above for mathematical reasoning and appropriate rationing.
  2. Avoid ingredients that really just say trans fat, aka partially hydrogenated oils, fractionated oils, and interesterified oils.
  3. If you’re going to analyze a label, make sure to look at the sugar grams ahead of the calories or fat grams. Aka twizzlers, gummy bears, sour gummies, sweet tarts, etc. promote themselves as being low-fat or fat-free, but what about the bigger picture? Know what you’re eating.
  4. Stick with a normal, balanced diet. Don’t try to manipulate calories to eat more candy. Aka, don’t skip meals. It will only backfire.
  5. Skip the guilt trip. This is a fun time of year, and beating yourself up is not going to help you stay on track. Know that we all struggle with temptations, and it’s important to not only enjoy the holidays, but also the food because it’s a part of it! Be kind to yourself this holiday season and if you overdo it, just get back on-track and resist the temptation to procrastinate.

An Exception to the Breakfast Rule

Breakfast is my thing. Especially on the weekends. And because it’s nearly impossible to find a place that has exactly what I want without me customizing my order to the annoyingth degree, I usually opt to create my own breakfast spread at home.

Here is my rationale:

  1. Breakfast can be simple and low-maintenance to make and clean up if you do it right.
  2. The complexity of how many ways you can order eggs (and bacon, for that matter) can put you, your server and the cook staff in quite the pickle. Side note: If I had a nickel for the number of times I have ordered eggs over medium and they end up rubbery because I over describe my preference, or like a dam just broke because I downplayed the importance of the over-medium characteristic, I’d be a rich lady. Alas, when you dine out, you have to expect these things…
  3. Sometimes it’s just too much brainpower to find something you enjoy (you need to be excited about your food!) while still maintaining some type of balanced, nutritious diet.

With that being said, every rule usually has an exception or two. In my 10+ years of living in Charlotte, NC,  I have finally found my exception to the breakfast rule.

Drumroll, please…

Put your forks together for The Suffolk Punch! This hot spot opened up in Fall of 2017 and lucky for us, they serve brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. This means I’m not in my kitchen as much on the weekends, and it is delightful to say the least!

In addition to being delicious, TSP is nutritionally aware, aka THEY GET IT. Their entire menu is non-GMO, organic and/or local whenever accessible, and completely soy-free.

One of my biggest things as a dietitian is not selling anyone on just the concept of “healthy.” Why? Because healthy is both complicated and too vague; it’s not a one-size fits all. Not to mention it’s not exactly top of the list when trying to figure out brunch plans with friends. The good news is that you can eat well, be healthy AND look forward to meals without being stressed out. It’s not easy, but with the right information (and dietitians having your best interest in mind!), you can find great, balanced options while navigating quickly through all the crazy myths and food marketing schemes that are out there to make things much more complicated than they need to be.

So let’s start HERE, and try one of my top three TSP brunch favorites!

The Veggie Burger is the first thing I tried at TSP. I have tried many a veggie burgers in my time, and this one is a flavor explosion and a must-try! Comes with arugula, house-made BBQ sauce, and goat cheese crema…YUM!

Usually when I find something I like on a menu, I stick with it. But my second visit to TSP I actually ventured out and tried the Chiliaquiles. Holy molé (get it???)…out of this world good, and also gluten-free! Corn tortillas (crispy!), guajillo sauce, queso fresco, pulled chicken, peppers, fried eggs, onion, salsa verde. Oh my.

The Roasted Vegetable Hash is a nutrition power house if you ask me. Gluten-free and loaded with seasonal, local farm vegetables topped with fried eggs.

If your mouth isn’t already watering enough, torture yourself a little more and check out their Full Brunch Menu.

The Suffolk Punch is taking reservations for Mother’s Day. Don’t miss your chance to check them out and wow the moms in your life. If you are a regular, you know how packed it gets on the weekends, so make sure to call today to grab your spot!

(704) 319-8650

2911 Griffith St
Charlotte, NC 28203

On the Light Rail
@ New Bern Station

*All images by Josh Vasko |

Healthier Together

Healthy eating is imperfect. When we make perfection the focus of achieving a healthier diet, we are setting ourselves up for failure.

My number one priority as a registered, licensed dietitian is to help my clients find happiness from the very beginning of their journey. If we can approach change from a positive, feel-good place, I know that the work that we do together will not only be successful, but will also be long-lasting, hopefully for a lifetime.

Have you ever tried a diet where you felt like you couldn’t go out to eat with friends? Or perhaps you told yourself you had not made enough progress to deserve a certain meal or treat. When we deprive and shame ourselves into healthier eating, we feed our minds and emotions with harmful words and feelings, even though we may feed our bodies with healthier foods. What we tell ourselves is important, and we must fully grasp this concept if we want to achieve and maintain healthy changes that will last us a lifetime.

What are some long-term goals you would like to accomplish through a healthier way of eating and living? Have you ever considered that the biggest obstacle preventing you from achieving your goals is your mindset, and not your will-power?

Unfortunately, a healthy diet does not have a simple formula that applies across the board. It varies from person to person, and it is about more than simply calories in-calories out.

Take a closer look at diets that have had short-term successes with limited or zero long-term research to back them up. A plan that promises you success in 30 days will likely lead you to to fall off the wagon in the same amount of time.

When we are fed up, frustrated and tired of feeling a certain way, we look for a quick fix just to provide some relief. We want to escape how we feel in that very moment. But before we act, we need to find out if these quick solutions are realistic, sustainable and most importantly, safe for the long haul. That isn’t always easy to research thanks to the overload of information that is out there on “healthy” eating.

Look at the bigger picture. 

You may not want to hear this, but healthy eating should NOT be about the goal of weight loss or fitting into last year’s skinny clothes. I get it, I’ve thought it myself, but this way of thinking will not get us where we want to be…trust me. But it also is not as straight-forward as increasing fruits and vegetables, dodging red meat and completely cutting out junk foods. It’s not black and white, and side note, I am a huge advocate of indulging – especially when it comes to great pizza and dessert! So if you work with me, you can still have those things…in balance of course.

How we treat our bodies and the nutrients we provide them matters in everything we do.  When we make lifestyle changes, they need to be reasonable and gradual. We can’t make a hasty decision to implement changes and expect those changes to last us a lifetime. We get one body, we should treat it with the utmost care and make our decisions wisely. We should also enjoy life in the process!

If you find yourself struggling to find a happy medium or balance, I encourage you to consider working with a dietitian to troubleshoot what is holding you back from living your happiest, healthiest life. Click here to learn more about my Nutrition + Wellness Services.

Meal Planning: Just The Tips

It’s no secret. When we plan ahead, we feel better.  

Our days run smoother, we breathe easier, our lists seem manageable (or at least not so overwhelming). But when we don’t have a plan, it’s tempting to make a few impulsive decisions to leave us feeling disorganized and perhaps a little out of control.

If we apply this thinking to how we eat, we can finally cut ourselves some slack and acknowledge that healthy eating isn’t all about will power or mind over matter. Improving our diet and eating healthier, balanced meals requires a game plan.

Planning out meals can seem daunting and overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be so difficult. If we break down our plan into smaller steps, we will find success and maintain these healthier lifestyle changes for the long haul.

To help you jump start (or restart) the process, I have come up with five tips to guide you through successful meal planning.

1. Don’t overload yourself.

Start by pulling a few recipes that you think you will enjoy and aren’t overly complicated. If this is something you have never tried before, remember that meal planning does not mean you need to plan or prepare every single meal in advance.  The less overwhelmed you feel, the more likely you are to continue the habit of planning ahead and eating well.

2. Make your grocery list and stick with it.

Using the recipes you have selected, make a master list. Before heading to the store, take an inventory of items you have on hand and mark these off your list. Add grocery staples to your list that may not be required for your recipes – i.e. coffee, creamer, eggs, condiments, etc.

3. Check your calendar.

If you are working late one night during the week, plan to grab takeout from somewhere to make things a little easier on yourself and your schedule. Select a few places as “go-tos” – places that have healthy, balanced and delicious items on their menu. For example, my go-to is Chop’t Mexican Caesar Salad sub kale for romaine, hold the cheese, add tomatoes, and dressing on the side. I have a crazy schedule, therefore I know my go-to places and have these restaurants on speed dial.  The goal is to know what lies ahead so you can plan accordingly.

4. Commit to breakfast being a make-at-home meal.

Honestly, there is no need to eat breakfast outside of the house unless you simply ran out of time. There are so many options to make ahead of time as “grab and go” breakfast options that this really shouldn’t be an issue. *Breakfast ideas coming soon!

5. Break down prep work into steps.

Maybe it’s intuitive to some, but when I first started meal planning, I thought it made the most sense to conquer my meals recipe by recipe. However, I can now tell you with confidence that if you do it this way, you might as well put a sleeping bag in the kitchen because you will be there F O R E V E R.

Instead, look at the steps of each recipe and conquer similar steps simultaneously. I like to start by rinsing, drying and chopping all vegetables I plan to incorporate into a week’s worth of recipes, and place chopped vegetables into separate containers until they are ready to use.  This prevents excessive washing of cutting boards and scrubbing knives a million times. No one likes dish duty…but if you do, get a pair of gloves because no one likes alligator hands.

If you have more  specific questions about meal planning, or are a Charlottean and interested in my Meal Planning + Preparation Services, feel free to send me a message. I’d love to chat and help you figure out a plan that’s right for you.

Happy planning!