Tricks To Enjoy Your Halloween Treats
October 30th, 2012 by Sara Upson
Happy Halloween! Halloween is celebrated by millions of people and is a fun time for dressing up and for kids to go door-to-door trick-or-treating resulting in large amounts of candy! For the kids this is great, for the parents sometimes Halloween can turn into a nutrition nightmare. As a parent you work all year long to try and instill good nutrition and healthy eating habits with your kids. It might feel like this one-day of the year comes around and ruins it all. Let me assure you that one day of splurging on candy- even one week of eating candy will not ruin years of work on healthy eating. The same is true for you too! However, if you find yourself reaching for the candy bowl too frequently, or if you are concerned about you kid’s candy consumption then read on for some tricks on how to enjoy your Halloween treats.
1. Eat Regular Meals on Halloween. Oftentimes people know they will be eating treats in the evening so they believe that it is better to skip lunch and/or dinner to save calories for later in the day. This could not be further from the truth. In reality skipping meals causes you to be over hungry, which typically results in overeating. When you get to the point that you are over hungry you are more likely to eat faster, not even taste the food you are consuming, and eat past the point of comfortable fullness. When you consume regular meals this sets you up to savor and enjoy the treats you are going to eat. It also reduces the likelihood of overeating treats. Be sure that your Halloween Meal Plan is not 1% real food and 99% Halloween Candy. “Real food” should still be the basis for your intake on Halloween. It’s okay to eat and enjoy your treats just make sure you get in balanced meals and truly savor the treats that you do eat.
Give Yourself Permission To Enjoy Your Treats & Eat Your Treats in Moderation. Moderation can be ambiguous but when it comes to food you can think about it terms of avoiding extremes- not too much and not too little. The best way to set yourself up to eat moderate portions is to eat when you are gently hungry and stop when you are satisfied/ comfortably full. To enjoy your treats in moderation it means that you have to get in some “real food” so that you can savor your treats and be satisfied with a moderate amount. If you restrict your treat intake it can set you up to overeat. Give yourself permission to enjoy the treats you like. In addition, if you believe that Halloween is the only time that you can have treats and is your one “free day” then you are also more likely to overeat. It is very hard to eat a moderate amount of treats if you believe that this is the only time that you will be able to enjoy them. Instead work on eating mindfully and truly enjoy what you are eating. In fact, be picky with your treats ”if you don’t love it, don’t eat it, and if you love it, savor it.” (From Intuitive Eating.)
- Eat Your Treats Mindfully. Eating mindfully means that you take the time to taste and savor the treat that you are eating. It means that you notice the taste, texture, density, and temperature of the treat you are eating. For example- is the texture chewy, smooth, or crunchy? Is the treat heavy or light? Is the taste sweet, bitter, sour, or salty? Beyond that- notice how your body feels and any thoughts that come up. If your mind is going straight to the thought that you should not have that treat or that you are going to get fat by eating it, then it is really hard to eat mindfully and savor your treat. Try to relax your mind and notice the qualities of your treat.
- Do not compensate the next day. Remember it is okay to enjoy your Halloween treats and one day of eating treats will not ruin a healthy diet or make you or your children fat. All foods can fit in a healthy diet including candy and treats. If you overeat treats on Halloween do not skip breakfast or lunch the next day to try and compensate. Trust your body and have normal meals throughout the day. Chances are if you did overeat treats your body is most likely not going to want sweets or treats again for a while. Keep feeding your body regular meals to keep your metabolism going, to give you energy, and to help you feel better.
- Leftover Treats. How you handle your leftover treats is up to you. There are a lot of great options to get rid of your treats if you do not want to keep them around. If you have kids I suggest including your children in the process so that they do not feel like their candy was taken away. I also recommend allowing your kids to keep the candy that they really like. Allow them to have it in moderate amounts and give them the opportunity to see that candy and treats can fit into a healthful diet. By doing this you are helping your child create a healthy relationship with food and you are helping to prevent obesity and eating disorders later in life.
Suggestions for those leftover treats that you do not want to keep:
- Save the chocolate candy and use it with holiday cooking. You can freeze it and retrieve it when you need it. Although you are not getting it out of the house you are repurposing it and you are spreading the intake throughout the year versus over a couple of days/weeks.
- Buy the candy off of your kids. If you pay $0.05 per piece it will only set you back about $10 and you kids will feel like they are getting something in return.
- Donate your candy. Meals on Wheels accepts candy and will pass it out to their clients. You don’t have to toss the candy you bought off your kids you can donate it to a good cause. Just be sure to call your local Meals on Wheels ahead of time to be sure they are accepting candy. You can also search in your area to see if there are any other charities accepting candy as well.
- Get involved with the Halloween Candy Buy Back program. You can check in your area online and see if there are any local dentists participating in this program. Typically they will accept unwrapped candy and give your child a certain amount of money or enter their name in a raffle for each pound they donate. The donated candy is then shipped to troops overseas who are thankful for the candy.
Overall remember that it is okay for you and your kids to enjoy treats on Halloween. Remember to eat normally throughout the day & savor the treats that you choose eat.