Nutritionist-Approved Halloween Tips (Tricks) and Treats

Hi guys, it’s Shira here! Even if you hung up your trick-or-treating tote many full moons ago, Halloween is still a fun holiday for the conscious splurge (emphasis on conscious). 

The problem is that, for many of us, Halloween kicks off the first of three months of far too much sugar… Sugar that, in some cases, wasn’t even that good (cue the stale tootsie rolls). Look, I get it—pumpkins full of candy are not only Insta-worthy, they’re super tempting, especially at work. So I’m here to offer my suggestions for kicking this holiday season off right, starting with Halloween…

Go opaque.

If you have any control over how the Halloween treats are displayed at work, do yourself a favor and avoid clear containers. Studies suggest that environmental factors like visibility and convenience play a major role in how much we consume. In fact, researchers at Cornell University found that participants in a study ate twice as many Hershey Kisses when they were in clear containers than when they were in opaque ones. Makes sense, right?

Avoid the “fun-size” trap.

Let’s face it: Most of us aren’t being honest with ourselves when it comes to “fun-size” candy. Despite being adorable, bite-sized treats can make it all too easy to indulge mindlessly. A tiny Twix with your morning coffee, a couple Snickers at 4pm when emails start piling up, and sure, why not one for the road. The biggest issue is that when we convince ourselves that fun-sized candy is so small it barely counts, we lose track of the individual bites and can wind up eating a whole candy bar or more. Side note: Some clients opt to save their wrappers on Halloween to keep themselves accountable throughout the day, and it’s pretty smart if you ask me.

Enjoy it.

Don’t worry, I’m not the kind of dietitian that’s going to recommend celery sticks in place of chocolate. In fact, I encourage you to make a mental note of your all time favorite Halloween treat and to enjoy it during this holiday, consciously, sans guilt. Let it melt on your tongue and take in all the goodness. Eat it, enjoy it thoroughly, and then move on. Making this mental note also helps weed out the not-so-worth-it sweets—the sweets you eat because they’re there and you’re hungry, stressed or tired. In short, you’ll be better off saving up for the good stuff.

Self care.

Speaking of being hungry, stressed and tired, these states will most definitely make you more likely to seek out sugar. Be aware of how you’re feeling. Making sure you aren’t going too long without eating—particularly protein, healthy fats and fiber—is a really great way to thwart sugar cravings. And know your sugar triggers… If you didn’t sleep great the night before, or you’re having one of those weeks at work, cortisol (the stress hormone) will likely be contributing to intense sugar cravings (as if you needed more on your plate). Knowing this provides some perspective. It helps us take a step back and realize we’re not craving sugar because we need it to fuel us. So here’s to pacing ourselves this holiday season, starting with All Hallows’ Eve.

Better-for-you options.

Of course if you are indulging, I’m always going to recommend going for the highest quality options. Many mainstream candy brands are full of artificial flavors and colors. But thanks to the Internet, we have options, people! These are two of my favorites:

  • Heavenly Organics Chocolate Mint Patty – These are basically a grown up junior mint with only three ingredients: raw organic honey, unsweetened chocolate and natural peppermint oil.
  • YumEarth Organics lollypops – Organic lollypops colored with black carrots, beets, pumpkin, and apple. So you can feel good giving to tricker treaters or saving them for your personal candy stash.

And there you have it! I hope these tips and tricks will help you this holiday season. Just remember that whenever you feel yourself starting to cave, you can always come back to this post for a refresher and a little dose of motivation to keep you on track.

What’s your favorite Halloween indulgence?

Let me know in the comments below.

Xx, Shira Lenchewski, MS, RD 

Photos: Shira Lenchewski, MS, RD
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