When you think of Halloween, you probably think of jack-o’-lanterns, spooky costumes, ghosts, witches — and candy. Healthy eating is clearly not top of mind.
But there are some simple steps you can take to make for a health-(ier) Halloween.
First the reality: We’re not going to tell you to hand out kale chips or anything like that. About 77% of Americans buy candy at Halloween to hand out to trick-or-treaters, according to a survey by the National Confectioners Association. And there’s a clear favorite.
“This is not rocket science. It’s chocolate, of course,” said Sally Squires, who writes the Lean Plate Club™ blog. “Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate. People love that.” (No. 2, according to the survey? Candy corn. Eww.)
Consider going for dark chocolate treats, Squires said, which is both healthier and may not entice the kids — or you — as much as milk chocolate.
As an interesting side note, Squires pointed to recent research about a growing awareness of what she called “sweet overload.”
A study from the Monell Center in Philadelphia examined 400,000 reviews of nearly 70,000 food products posted on Amazon’s website. “And the one thing that really struck [researchers] was that everybody’s saying things are getting too sweet,” she said. “So maybe we’re starting to understand that maybe too sweet isn’t necessarily good for us.”
OK, but what about all that delicious candy your kids bring home from their trick-or-treating?
Squires said to remember: Out of sight, out of mind, “so if you can take whatever stash you have left after Halloween and you can store it, putting it in places where it’s less likely to be tempting.” Try the back of the freezer, she said. Or maybe the cookie jar at the top of the cupboard “so you’re not looking at it all the time.”
She added: “If you do really want to have it around, just parcel it out. So give yourself two pieces or whatever it is that’s going to fit into your daily caloric intake and just make sure you’re not there with the candy bowl out mindlessly dipping into it — which we all do, me included.”
But think twice before bringing in the leftover treats to the office. “Everybody brings their Halloween candy … so it’s a constant temptation. And we might think about not doing that.”
Finally, remember: Halloween basically kicks off the start of the holiday season. “We are now going to go through Thanksgiving and the holiday parties and New Year’s,” she said.
If you have the urge to snack on all those leftover Snickers, remember to think ahead. “Enjoy it in moderation, because you want to get through the holidays hopefully unscathed.”
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