Halloween has pretty much become synonymous with unhealthy eating. Trick-or-treating revolves around candy, and who hasn’t experienced at least one bout of eating yourself sick on fun-size chocolate as a kid? This doesn’t have to be the case, though. Best of all, you aren’t even necessarily required to hide the candy. Here are some tips to keep your trick-or-treating (and the aftermath) as healthy as possible:
1. Load up on healthy foods before going out.
One way to make sure your kids (and you) don’t eat too much candy is to eat a nutritious, filling meal or snack just before leaving the house. Choose foods that are high in fiber, which will help you all feel full, but generally contribute few calories, and protein.
2. Pack a healthy snack along.
If you’re going to be out for a while, it’s entirely possible that your family might start feeling a little tempted by the contents of their bags. Set a rule that candy is only for at home and bring along a healthy snack. It’ll keep everyone from diving into their bags as they walk and give you the chance to examine their candy for expiration dates, torn wrappers, allergens, or other signs that some of it needs to be tossed.
3. Stay hydrated.
If you’re going to be out walking, it’s important to stay hydrated — especially if you’re sweating in a heavy costume. Many people also conflate thirst signals with hunger signals. As a result, when they’re feeling thirsty, they end up reaching for a snack instead. Bring water along and make sure everyone drinks up.
4. Don’t go too big.
Back in the day, it was common to see kids hauling their candy in pillowcases nearly as large as they were and bringing home half their body weight in gumballs and candy bars. This isn’t necessarily the best option, and there are loads of cute Halloween bags and buckets in more kid-appropriate sizes. Even if you have to improvise and use a container from home, choose one that’s the right size for your child’s age.
5. Hand out goodies other than candy.
If you’re staying home on Halloween and passing out treats, having access to all that candy can be very tempting. For people with certain eating patterns, it may even be triggering. Skip the sugar bombs and pass out items like bubbles, stickers, erasers, and small toys instead. You won’t end up with a ton of leftover candy, the trick-or-treaters will still have fun, and the parents of kids with serious food allergies will thank you.
6. Host a healthy party.
If you’re having a Halloween party, check out recipes for fruit- and veggie-based seasonal treats. Make a snack mix based on air popped popcorn and serve fresh vegetables and a tasty dip. There are a ton of cute, festive, flavorful, and healthy recipes and snack ideas that are perfect for parties and trunk-or-treat gatherings.
7. Stick to your routine.
It can be tempting to reduce the amount you eat to save up those calories for candy, but this can be detrimental. If you’re hungry, you’re much more likely to grab a handful and snack away instead of mindfully choosing and enjoying one or two pieces. If you’re already following a healthy diet and exercise plan, stick to it.
8. Portion out some and save the rest.
All kids have their favorites (as do all adults). When you’ve got everyone home and you’re sorting through their candy, ask them to pick their top three favorite kinds. Keep those, and either give away the rest, or save it for baking, mixing into trail mix, or adding to granola bars.
9. Remember, it’s just one night.
While it seems like a lot at the time, Halloween is one night a year. Even if you or your family ends up going wild on a pile of candy corn and chocolate, this isn’t likely to impact your overall lifestyle. Go right back to your regular routine afterward, and don’t sweat it too much. As long as you and your family are eating healthy meals and getting enough physical activity, one night a year won’t do much damage.
Paradoxically, worrying too much about restricting candy can make you focus on it, which will make it stick in your mind. If you’re trying to avoid eating candy, one of the worst things you can do is ruminate over it! Follow these simple tips, and you and your family can still have a fun, healthy Halloween full of treats.