This year Halloween falls on a Friday. I can’t think of anything more perfect! There’s time to hand out candy to trick-or-treaters, watch some Treehouse of Horror reruns, get all costumed up, hit a house party and then enjoy some leftover mini chocolate bars back at home before hitting the hay. The icing on the cake: not having to worry about getting up early the next morning!
Unlike other holidays that have an underlying meaning that you can focus on (giving, thanking, worshiping, etc.), Halloween is about one thing: candy. Oh yeah, and the scary stuff and costumes. But mostly candy.
Whether you have kids or not, chances are you participate in the candy part of Halloween in some way. It’s a fun holiday, but if you’re trying to eat healthy it can pose a few challenges.
If you’re the kind of person who can easily forgo treats no matter what the occasion, even Halloween, then this post isn’t for you! For the rest of us who want to enjoy the holiday but not overdo it, here are some healthy eating tips for adults to keep in mind this Halloween:
Buy your supply of candy no more than a week before Halloween
If you’re stocking up on chocolate, caramel corn and cheesies four weeks in advance, you are almost guaranteed to eat some, if not most or even all, of it yourself. Enjoying the odd treat a few days before Halloween is ok; gorging on candy every day for the entire month of October is asking for trouble!
Look for (relatively) healthy treats
I’m not going to tell you to hand out hummus and celery sticks on Halloween. (Though I’m willing to bet kids these days dig that kind of food!) But if you’d like to make at least some kind of effort to give out slightly healthier treats (and eat them yourself, too), pretzels, trail mix, popcorn, dark chocolate and roasted nuts are pretty decent options.
Recognize the advantages of small, single-serving packages
I for one am glad Halloween chocolate bars are teeny tiny, and that there are only a handful of Doritos in each little bag! With normal sized chip bags and chocolate bars, it can be difficult to estimate portion sizes and therefore figure out the calories, fat, sugar and sodium contained in them. Halloween-sized packages let you more easily understand the caloric content of the food. Yes, 200 calories worth of potato chips is a very, very small quantity!
Individually wrapped servings also act as an overeating deterrent because you have to stop and open each one rather than mindlessly munch. Save your bags and wrappers so that if you go a bit overboard, at least you’ll know exactly by how much. Midweek 10-k, anyone?
Snack on roasted pumpkin seeds
In the mood for a crunchy snack while you wait for trick-or-treaters? Make a batch of roasted pumpkin seeds! They’re healthy, extremely easy to make and absolutely delicious. I make them every year and have never run out of ideas for flavour combinations!
Eat nutritious, well balanced meals on Halloween
There are scary movies to enjoy, costume parties to go to and candy to hand out. In other words, it’s a busy day/night with unhealthy food at every turn. Sticking to normal eating patterns through breakfast, lunch and dinner is a must for avoiding cravings and overindulgence later on.
Skipping meals in the attempt to compensate for the extra calories will only make you feel like crap throughout the day, not to mention mess with your body’s hunger/satiety mechanisms.
Give away 90% of your leftover candy
If you’re left with tons of extra candy after the trick-or-treaters have hung up their masks for the night, keep some as a treat (say, a few peanut butter cups, a couple of mini bags of chips and a lollipop) and then get rid of the rest. Whether you give it to a neighbour or bring it to the office, the point is to keep it out of the house.
Get back on track right after Halloween
You’ve enjoyed Halloween and even indulged a little bit. That’s ok! Being able to have fun and participate is important, and a couple days of unhealthy treats will not ruin an overall pattern of healthy eating. Recognize the good time you had and then get right back to your routine. For the post-Halloween week, might I suggest spaghetti squash Pad Thai, red quinoa tabbouleh or wild rice and bean soup? All are super flavourful and nutritious.