It’s the scariest time of the year, especially for anyone who fears the inevitable sugar cravings and dreaded extra pounds from Halloween indulging. Grocery stores are frightful places – you go in for your daily shopping and suddenly you are surrounded by aisles and aisles of candy corn and Fun Size ® Skittles® and M&Ms – all looking colorful and appealing, designed to weaken our resistance and lure us into Candyland and the consequences of “over-treating.”
And it’s not just us! As a Doctor Mom who fought the “Sugar Bowl of Holidays” for years, I know that the extra sugar this time of year can weaken on our kids’ immune system, wreak havoc for those with ADD/ADHD, interrupt normal sleep patterns, and promote fatigue – not to mention tooth decay.
While you may think a piece of candy here and there won’t be a big deal, consider this: a Fun Size® Snickers® has 8½ grams of sugar and 80 calories! Not so fun, huh? If you sneak a few treats from your kids’ candy bag each day and a few more at night, you could easily gain a pound a week! By the time Thanksgiving rolls around, you may be noticeably heavier, more sluggish, and more addicted to sweets than ever before.
Eating Halloween candy does not have to be inevitable this year! Here are some tricks to avoid over-treating:
1.) Be a party animal. See if your kids will host or attend a party instead of (or in addition to) trick-or-treating. Serve adorable, nutritious Halloween treats like the ones pictured here, and show your kids how fun healthy can be!
2.) Don’t make candy the star of the Halloween festivities. Encourage your kids’ excitement about costumes; plan or go to a neighborhood haunted house; carve pumpkins; decorate the yard with ghoulish delight. Consider starting the “Secret Halloween Boo” in your neighborhood print out your poem and ghost here: and enjoy surprising friends with a few small gifts or healthy treats.
3.) Eat before you start. I know kids want to begin Trick-or-Treating as soon as school lets out, but prepare a nutritious meal the day before and take 30 minutes to sit down and eat before everyone goes out. Make sure your meal includes whole grains, protein and veggies to keep kids energized and full longer. Try chicken and veggie pitas with brown rice, or fish tacos with avocado and whole-wheat tortillas. If you’re in a hurry, kids can have a “snackful dinner” – almond butter on whole grain toast; sliced carrots and apples with hummus; black beans and rice, or guacamole and low-salt tortilla chips.
4.) Start a new tradition. If you’re in charge of buying the candy, consider giving non-food items instead. Research shows that kids don’t think it’s lame to get a toy treat or two on Halloween. Go online now to buy bulk discount items such as glow-light bracelets, bubbles, glow-in-the-dark plastic fangs, or spider rings.
5.) Leave your favorites at the store. If you must buy candy to give out, buy the kind that you’d never eat if it was the last sweet on earth. For me, that would be Sour Gummi Worms®. What would it be for you? Buy just enough of the candy to cover Halloweeners for the night, hours, then see Tip #6.
6.) Toss it. My patients tell me that the best – and perhaps the simplest — advice I give is to clean out your pantry and refrigerator and don’t keep any temptation in the house. You can’t eat it if it’s not there. Don’t let one night of indulgence turn into a month of candy hording. Leftover Halloween treats will hinder any healthy eating plan’s success. Better to toss the treats and be a little wasteful than to add to your own “waist fullness.”
This year, let’s not give ourselves permission to eat stuff we wouldn’t normally bring home from the store just because it’s the 31st of October. In fact, the next few months – from Halloween through Christmas – are filled with temptations that can sabotage your health, wellness and weight-loss goals. Keep fresh fruits in a bowl front and center on your kitchen counter; take a container of almonds to work; have a pitcher of water with lemon on the top shelf of your frig and cut veggies in top crisper drawer. When you want a sweet or salty snack, don’t tell yourself you “can’t” have it; instead, first drink a glass of water. Next, have some sliced fruit or crunchy vegetables or a dozen almonds. By the time you’re finished, you may not want that unhealthy treat after all.
You CAN survive Halloween without going candy crazy!
And just think ….with all this planning and preparation, you’ll be ready to conquer Thanksgiving!
Happy and Healthy Halloween-ing,