For people trying to stay healthy, a holiday seemingly built around candy and treats can be quite an ordeal. Such is the conundrum of Halloween. Naturally, children hear the words “trick or treat” and instantly are reminded of costumes and candy. But, research shows that candy consumption isn’t just limited to kids this time of year. In fact, adults typically consume almost as much Halloween candy as children, often eating one piece themselves for every two pieces their children eat. Add this to the oncoming onslaught of foods, snacks and treats associated with the rest of the year’s holidays and you have a nutrition nightmare. Each year, the average American gains between one and two pounds in the period between Halloween and New Year’s Day. While that may not sound like a lot of weight, consider that a two-pound weight gain every year for 10 years equals an overall gain of 20 pounds.
Despite the potential perils to your diet that Halloween presents, Blount Memorial registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator Whitney Roberts says there are ways to make this holiday healthier. “First, I would urge everyone to avoid buying Halloween candy early,” she said. “If you wait to buy those treats until just before Halloween, you keep it out of the house as long as possible. This will help you avoid munching on it before Halloween night, and you might find the candy on sale, which could save you a few bucks,” she explained. “Also, avoid buying treats you know you love. It may seem like a harmless treat, but just one of those fun-size candy bars per day can lead to a gradual weight gain before you know it,” she added.
Roberts says, if you must buy candy early, use a little self-control. “Definitely store the candy out of plain sight. The more we see these treats, the more likely we are to want them. If you must indulge, try to limit yourself to one piece of candy per day, and savor it. Decide what time of day you are craving a treat the most and save your treat for that time. Denying yourself treats altogether will actually make you want them even more,” she said.
As you’re hiding that candy from yourself, you may want to replace it with healthier options. “Try replacing the candy dish with healthier choices, such as a bowl full of brightly colored fruits,” Roberts said. “Choosing fruits over candy will save on calories and provide a lot more nutrition. If you catch yourself having a candy craving, try taking a walking break. Extra sessions of physical activity can help with weight control, as well as getting your mind off the candy stash. Another element of avoiding candy snacking involves getting three quality meals per day. This will help you feel more satisfied throughout the day and less inclined to raid the candy bowl,” she explained. “To help with your chocolate craving, try sipping a cup of light hot chocolate. Also, sipping low-calorie beverages can help keep your mouth and hands busy and your mind off the treats,” she added.
And, if all else fails, Roberts says you should hold yourself accountable. “One surefire way to get a handle on your candy consumption is to count your empty candy wrappers. We often don’t realize how much we’ve actually eaten and counting wrappers is a good way to help practice moderation,” she said.