Holidays are meant to be a time of joy and celebration, right? But, for many of us, figuring out how to enjoy the Halloween season—without eating all the candy that seems to be everywhere—can be a bit tricky. Of course, we want you to have a healthy Halloween, but not at the expense of denying yourself the ability to enjoy some delicious treats and celebrate the holiday.
Most healthy eating advocates shine a negative light on Halloween for all its sugar-laden treats and offer healthier alternatives. But let’s be honest; who really wants pretzels or carrot sticks in their Halloween stash? While eating too much sugar is something we never espouse at NL, we do say it’s OK to allow for some “conscious indulgences” on occasion. Remember, your daily habits are what’s most important, not the one-time-a-year indulgence.
There may even be something, dare we say, “healthy” about indulging on Halloween. Just be sure to pair it with some common-sense guidelines.
6 Tricks to Celebrate a Healthy Halloween
1. Go ahead, indulge a little.
The very first—and possibly the most important—thing to remember on Halloween (and any day, really) is: It’s all candy. No matter what the label says, it’s full of sugar. Sorry to break it to you, but there is no magical Halloween candy that provides a good source of nutrition. So if you’re going to have some candy, you might as well eat the real deal version of the one you enjoy the most. Of course, if you enjoy the dye-free, hydrogenated oil-free version, that’s even better. (YumEarth, anyone?) Just remember, they’re all indulgences; they’re all candy. But when you indulge in what you really want, it’ll taste better. It might even keep you from eating more candy than you promised yourself you would, because you satisfied that craving from the get-go.
“Eat from an empowered mindset,” says Nutritious Life Founder Keri Glassman, MS, RD, CDN. “Tell yourself, ‘I can have this one Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup after my quinoa salmon salad,’ versus trying to avoid, avoid, avoid, which leads to overindulgence.”
2. Set yourself up for success.
Eating one piece of candy here or there, or breaking from your clean eating routine on occasion doesn’t have to throw you completely off track. Making a habit of keeping a candy bowl at your desk or on your kitchen counter, however, might not help you avoid the temptation to munch on mini Hershey bars throughout the day.
You know yourself best; if you need to establish some ground rules or keep the candy out of reach, do whatever it takes.
3. Keep up with your healthy habits.
Just because you know you’re going to eat something that isn’t particularly nutritious on or around Halloween, that definitely doesn’t mean you should give up on all your other efforts to eat a healthy, balanced diet and move your body. If you keep yourself on track with nutritious eating, exercise and all the pillars of a nutritious life, the impact of eating some Halloween candy will be minimal. Continue drinking lots of water. Keep eating your vegetables. Love more and stress less. Make sure you don’t just throw your hands up in the air and give up because of one day. You’ll be healthier and happier for it.
4. Let go of the guilt.
You shouldn’t feel bad for enjoying the taste of sugar or punish yourself for eating something you enjoy. If you can, keep your emotions out of it altogether. Eat the treat because it tastes good, and/or because it’s a holiday tradition, and leave it at that. Leave the guilt at the door and focus on enjoying the decadent food you’ve consciously decided to eat. That’s a much more emotionally healthy way to approach eating in general.
5. Savor each bite.
While you’re enjoying your favorite Halloween candy—without regrets—remember to savor each and every bite. You’ll enjoy it a lot more if you’re not scarfing down a Snicker’s bar while no one’s looking. Sit down. Stop what you’re doing. Take deliberate bites so you can actually taste what you’re eating. There’s no need to rush; in fact, you’re more likely to know when you’ve had enough if you slow down while you’re eating.
6. Commit to living a more nutritious life.
If you’re really worried about your eating habits, in general, and not just on Halloween, maybe it’s time to recommit to creating some healthier eating habits. And, if you do happen to overdo it a little with the Halloween candy and treats, the best possible thing you can do afterward is to commit to getting back on track. Don’t beat yourself up for where you are now; set some healthy goals and milestones, and focus on those, instead.
So, go ahead, eat the candy, just maybe not all of it in one sitting. And, if you’re looking for some recommendations from a nutrition expert, check out these 3 Nutritionist Approved Halloween Treats.