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Children aren't the only ones getting all dressed up for Halloween. Your favorite candies and cookies are also donning orange and black wrappers and jack-o-lantern frosted faces. And they don’t wait for you to find them! These seasonal favors hit the shelves just weeks after Labor Day and will stick around well after October 31.
Sometimes it seems like every store and desktop candy dish is taunting you to take a bite or buy a whole package of sugary snacks! What's a healthy eater to do? Use these tricks to help you make it through several weeks' worth of taunts without guilt.
Buy trick-or-treat candy as late as possible. There will always be some left. Stores don’t run out of Halloween-themed items until mid-November, just before Thanksgiving hits. The earlier you buy, the more time those bags have to sit in your house tempting you to open them. Go just a few days before—or even the day of Halloween, if possible—to purchase your goods for the neighborhood kids. You'll save money thanks to clearance deals (and probably a few calories, too).
Double (or triple) knot your bags. Once your trick-or-treating candy does make it home, place it all in a plastic grocery bag or garbage bag, and double or even triple knot that sucker shut! If you find yourself aching for a taste in the next day or two, it’ll take you time to open the bag and you’ll hopefully be slowed enough to ask yourself whether a treat fits in your day. My suggestion: Don’t even go there! If you want a treat, get something else. Once you open the bag, it’s that much easier to go back for seconds (or thirds or fourths) Leave those bags closed until 6:18 p.m. on Halloween night when that first vampire rings the doorbell.
Buy candy that you don't like. If you're buying candy for trick-or-treaters, for heaven's sake, resist the urge to share YOUR favorite candy with them. If your favorite candy is in the house for days leading up to Halloween, you might end up eating it yourself. Even if you wait until Halloween night to open the bag, you'll be tempted to sneak into your own candy jar in between trick-or-treaters. Buy a candy that doesn't tempt you to help remain in control.
Go all out with other seasonal festivities. It really isn’t all about the candy, right? There is SO much about fall to enjoy. Visit a pumpkin patch and then carve a jack-o-lantern. Hunt for beautifully colored leaves and iron them in waxed paper. Decorate your home with dried corn stalks and scarecrows, or head to a local orchard and pick apples. With all these fun activities to enjoy, candy will take the backseat.
Step away from the candy dish. Countless studies (and personal experiences) have shown that when food is in proximity, people are more likely to eat it. Next time you find yourself at the store/office/school/church, notice where the candy dishes and sugary foods are, then step away. Situate yourself where these foods are out of reach and out of sight. Soon enough, you’ll be in deep conversation with a friend and will have completely forgotten about the dish you're trying to avoid!
Meet your goals on the 31st. On Halloween, focus on meeting all of your goals all day long. It may be a treat-focused holiday, but you can (and should) treat it like any other day—not as a chance to give up on your goals. Eat breakfast, work out, track your foods and cook your favorite healthy meal for dinner. You’ll be so pumped up about making healthful decisions all day that you’ll be less likely to cave in to candy later. But make sure you don't fall into the "I’ve been good and need a reward" mindset, which can backfire (especially if that reward is food or candy).
Bring your own treat while your kids play tricks. While walking with the kids from door to door, bring a healthy drink or snack with you. You’ll be able to log some good steps on your pedometer and avoid reaching into the kids' bags. Hot tea, coffee, or warm apple cider will keep your hands busy and take a long time to finish due to their warm temperature. Even a munchy snack like edamame or homemade salt-free trail mix are all suitable options for a trick-or-treat take along.
Monitor your perspective. During Halloween, stores feature candy more prominently, but that same candy is available year-round. Keep repeating to yourself, “Candy is not a prized treat that only comes around once every 365 days.” This will help you ditch the feeling that you need to “load up” on Halloween goodies while the opportunity lasts. Candy will always be there, and if you really want some on Halloween or any day, you could have some. The less emphasis you place on the candy, the less control it will have over your cravings. Do you really WANT candy right now or did you not even think about candy until you saw it on the shelf? Probably the latter.
Allow yourself to enjoy the holiday. A healthy diet is one that includes fun foods like candy in moderation. Choose a special treat to enjoy on Halloween and enjoy it!
Sarah is a registered dietitian with a bachelor's degree in dietetics. She helps individuals adopt healthy lifestyles and manage their weight. An avid exerciser and cook, Sarah likes to run, lift weights and eat good food. See all of Sarah's articles.
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