Halloween only comes around once a year, so while it’s perfectly okay to indulge a little, there are some ways to approach the holiday to help you manage the sugar overload and keep you feeling your best.
Here are some nutritionist-approved strategies to make your Halloween a little healthier, both before and on trick-or-treat day.
Here are some things you can do leading up to Halloween to help set you up for a healthier day.
1. Don’t buy candy too early on.
The daily visual of fun-size candy bars will be hard to ignore, so set your environment up for success by buying your treats the day before Halloween or even that day.
2. Have an abundant mindset.
In reality, Halloween candy is available year-round. It may not be sold in spooky shapes, but regardless, there’s nothing distinctive about the taste of these treats on Halloween compared to any other day. When you embrace this mentality, it’s easier to be selective about which treats you’ll enjoy because if you pass something up, you know you can always seek it out another day.
3. Assess your added sugar intake.
One problem with consuming excess added sugar is that it trains your taste buds and your brain to seek out more. It’s much easier to feel in control around added sugars when you’re consistently limiting them to no more than 6 teaspoons per day for women and less than 9 teaspoons per day for me. Leading sources of added sugars include soda, coffee and tea with sugar add-ins, desserts, granola bars, and sugary cereals. Also, about 75 percent of packaged food contains added sugars, so compare labels to find foods with lower amounts.
4. Shop for alternatives.
Trick-or-treaters may be seeking candy, but other giveaways can be just as fun. After all, holidays are about more than just food. So, shop for an assortment of non-edible items with a spooky theme. Examples include pencils and erasers, note pads, stickers, and bubbles.
Try these tips on Halloween to keep your candy intake in a reasonable range.
1. Eat balanced meals.
If you get hungry soon after eating, it’s a sign that your meals are either too light or imbalanced. And it’ll be hard to be intentional about Halloween choices when you’re ravenous. So, eat three meals at your regular times, and try to make sure each meal has half a plate of veggies or fruit (or a mix of the two), a satisfying portion of protein, and a starchy side (ideally a whole grain or starchy veggie).
2. Remember that nothing is off-limits.
When you get into a restrictive mindset about food, it almost certainly makes that food more enticing. This goes for kids and adults alike. So, if a goodie catches your eye, enjoy it mindfully and deliberately.
3. Stay present when eating.
Instead of digging into the candy bag, take a moment and ask yourself which treat would be most satisfying and how much you’d like to have. Then, serve yourself that amount on a plate (or napkin) and sit down to eat it. As you’re eating, take stock of the whole experience. What flavors and textures do you notice? This helps encourage enjoyment and reduces the likelihood of impulsive eating.
4. Remind yourself you’re doing the best you can.
Even if you ate more than you planned, it’s okay. Just say to yourself, ‘Okay, I ate a little past my comfort level. I’ve had enough.’ Then, take a moment to remember other healthy behaviors you participated in that week or day, such as taking a walk, or drinking water, or going to bed at a regular time. Your health never comes down to one meal or day of eating, or even one habit. A healthy lifestyle involves a number of behaviors practiced consistently. So, rather than being critical of yourself when you overeat, think about the behaviors that are going well and then pat yourself on the back because you’re doing the best you can.