A holiday that revolves around bagging as much candy as you possibly can seems fundamentally unhealthy. But rest assured there are tricks that can help balance out those all-too-plentiful treats. Keep these expert tips in your back pocket (or under your witch’s hat) to enjoy a festive Halloween without feeling guilty come Nov. 1.
Enjoy without overindulging
There is no rule saying you can’t have a couple of your favorite pieces of candy while still staying on track. “Practice the ‘M’ word: moderation,” advised Dr. Diane Dembicki, PhD, LMT, CYT, clinical associate professor in the Adelphi University College of Nursing and Public Health and director of the master’s program in community nutrition. New dietary guidelines recommend limiting added sugars to 10 percent of an average daily 2000-calorie diet. That is roughly 50 grams of sugar per day or five small candy bars, Dr. Dembicki added. “[It’s] enough to satisfy one’s sweet tooth Halloween night. But don’t forget, that is a total of sugars consumed for the entire day.”
The type of candy counts
When it comes time to indulge in that little slice of holiday heaven keep in mind that the type of candy you consume can make a difference. While it varies, fun sized candy contains anywhere from 30 to 60 calories (or more). But it’s not just calories to watch out for; it’s sugar too. “The best thing to do is read food labels,” Dr. Dembicki said. “…but more simply, something that takes more time to chew, will slow down your eating and also give your body time to feel satisfied and thus maybe consume less.”
Plan ahead to savor the moment
“On Halloween day, eat three balanced meals, have snacks throughout the day and eat an early dinner or well-balanced snack before heading out for trick-or-treating,” suggested Bonnie Giller, MS, RD, CDN, CDE, a Long Island dietitian. Giller also recommended that children carry a small trick-or-treat bag to avoid collecting too many sweets. Another tip: “Having a healthy mindset is your best tool to avoid overindulging on a treat,” Giller added. “Make it a point to eat your treat at the table and not while you are out. Savor each bite and you will be satisfied after one or two treats.”
Give it away
While it’s fine to keep some of your favorite candy around the house, it is prudent to establish a set of guidelines, Giller said. Especially, for your kids. “Have them pick their favorite ones, put it in a bag with their name on it and encourage them to space it out over the weeks, not eat all in one or two days. Take the remaining candy left after they’ve picked their favorites and take it into work or to a local soup kitchen.”
Bounce back with fun activities
Ok, so you’ve had one (or five) too many handfuls of candy corn. Don’t torture yourself with starvation diets or committing hours on the treadmill. Dr. Dembicki suggests getting back on track by balancing healthy eating with fun physical activities. “Raking the entire yard into piles of leaves, jumping into them and raking them up again and jumping again is a great fall activity,” she said. She also recommended enjoying the crisp autumn air. Walking you dog, which burns about 100 calories an hour (the equivalent of two small candy bars), is fun for the whole family.