This Halloween Practice Moderation not Deprivation

I’ve read so many extreme tips for “staying healthy” on Halloween day. Yes, there are treats everywhere and yes, they’re high in sugar, fat, and calories, but indulging in a candy bar or mini bag of M & M’s isn’t going to ruin everything. Eating healthy the majority of the time is really what’s most important. In fact, deprivation can actually backfire and result in eating too many sweets.

My three tips for a successful Halloween day: find time to fit in a workout, drink a lot of water, and eat well-balanced meals leading up to the festivities.

#1: Get that Blood Pumping!

Make a point to burn some calories on Halloween day. Whether it be a strength training class, a morning run, a barre class, or my preferred way to burn some serious calories, indoor cycling class, exercise boosts your metabolism and also creates a post-exercise calorie burn. This means you burn calories even after you’ve finished exercising. Exercising and the post-burn will help offset the additional calories from those Halloween treats.

Also, some research suggests exercise doesn’t always cause hunger but can curb it. Exercise may lower levels of ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates appetite in the short term, while raising levels of peptide YY, a hormone that suppresses appetite.

#2: Stay Hydrated!

Since the hunger mechanism is stronger than thirst, it’s fairly common to confuse hunger with thirst, so keeping hydrated will eliminate a false feeling of hunger. Drinking water every day is essential to almost every organ in the body. Water flushes out toxins, carries nutrients to cells and regulates body functions.  

To tell the difference between hunger and thirst, simply drink a cup of water. Wait a moment, and if you feel satisfied you know it's not hunger. Drink water before snacks and meals to keep hydration levels optimal and ward off deceiving hunger pangs that are really signs of thirst.

#3: Eat Well-Balanced Meals

Eating high-fiber, high-protein foods on Halloween day will make a big difference in reducing your cravings for sweets and decrease the chances of overeating later in the day, particularly when your kids bring home all their candy.

You may be feening for that chocolate, but eating something healthier will eliminate your craving almost as effectively. For instance, eating apple slices with peanut butter might satisfy you as much as if you did splurge on candy. The sense of satisfaction might not happen immediately or even in 5 minutes, but it will kick in 15 to 20 minutes later. Just make sure to eat an amount equal to the volume of the desired food. Otherwise, you’ll still be hungry, and your craving will still be there -- waiting for you to give in.

Implement these three simple techniques throughout your busy Halloween day, and I think you'll end your day feeling good about your choices. 

For more details about navigating candy and Halloween with your kiddos, here's how I handle it as a dietitian.

I hope you have a Happy Halloween!

Kelly Harrington, MS, RDN

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for Healthy Goods

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