Jack-o’-lanterns, costumes, festive parties – what’s more fun than Halloween? But October 31st can be a tricky celebration for many people, as it marks the unofficial start of “sugar season” that intensifies throughout the holidays and reaches a cookie-fueled fever pitch by New Years Eve.
The good news is that there are some easy ways to handle the onslaught of candy on Halloween that won’t leave you (or your kids!) feeling deprived.
Crowd out your sugar cravings: First be sure that all of your meals are filling, nutritious, and delicious. Fill up your plate with veggies, drink lots of water, and focus on eating enough healthy fats and proteins. At Integrative Nutrition, we call this crowding out – prioritize adding good things to your diet before you worry about what you’re avoiding.
This flips the dieting paradigm on its head, and we’ve seen it work miracles in reducing cravings – especially sugar cravings. It’s hard to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables a day and still find the room or desire to overeat processed, sugary, nutrient-deficient foods. Believe it or not, you won’t want to!
Find healthier candy alternatives: You can still partake in trick-or-treating fun without resorting to junk that’s loaded with high fructose corn syrup. Opt for high-quality dark chocolate instead – many people consider chocolate a superfood, after all! – or make your own treats with healthier sweeteners such as maple syrup, honey, or dates. If you have kids, make a big event out of preparing special Halloween desserts together such as chocolate dipped bananas.
Get rid of the excess: If you have leftover candy after the trick-or-treaters have gone, simply get rid of it – you won’t eat what’s not in your cabinet. If you have kids, allow them a few pieces as a special treat and then swap it out with healthier alternatives. As 2011 IIN graduate Stephanie Merchant suggested to TODAY, if your kids are older, allow them a few pieces and then exchange the rest of their candy stash for a gift or a gift card. “We pick out our favorites, but it’s just for that night and then we make our switch. They get the best of both worlds,” Stephanie says. Sounds like a win-win to us!
Focus on fun activities: Beyond the sugar, Halloween is a really fun holiday full of family-friendly activities. Carving pumpkins, watching movies, haunted houses, costume parties, arts-and-crafts – for many people, these activities form some of the best memories of their lives, and involve zero consumption of food at all! Place the focus on what we call primary food here at Integrative Nutrition – all the things in life that fuel you beyond your plate.
Enjoy the 90/10 rule: There’s only one diet that IIN founder Joshua Rosenthal recommends to everyone, and it only has one flexible rule – eat what is healthy for you 90% of the time, and 10% of the time eat whatever you feel like. “Why turn dietary ‘mistakes’ into sins?” he says. “Having fear and guilt around food is not healthy.” That means if you want to eat a Reese’s peanut butter cup or Twix bar, go for it! Enjoy each bite, savor the company you’re with when you eat it, and then move on. While there’s everything to be said for finding a healthy diet and sticking to it, you shouldn’t be an eating perfectionist.
Which of these tips resonates most with you? Do you have any other ideas we missed? We’d love to hear – let us know in the comments below!