By: Leigh Healey, RD, LD, LMNT

Yep, it’s that time again. It seems like it should still be summer! Oh well. It’s time to get over that and do some planning for the holidays. How are you going to approach Halloween this year? All the grocery stores having huge sales on 1 pound bags of Halloween candy trying to get you to buy as much candy as possible. Plus, if you are a parent, you are probably anticipating the large amounts of candy that your children will be bringing home after they Trick or Treat. All the sweets at your fingertips along with the added stress/pressure during the holiday seasons can lead people to overeat but that tends to only add more guilt, shame and embarrassment. Perhaps there are some healthy tips you can follow to support your efforts to improve/maintain your health and help manage urges with all the extra sweets.

First, remember that “treats” can fit into a healthful meal after all the other food groups have been consumed. Eat candy as part of a well-balanced meal instead of as a snack between meals. If you get hungry between meals, eat a snack that is both filling and satisfying. Healthy options include apple slices with peanut butter, sliced avocado on whole grain crackers or almonds and a string cheese. Plus, having regular, balanced meals and snacks makes you less likely to binge eat. Try eating three regular meals and two snacks per day to prevent cravings that can lead to overeating.

Second, you don’t have to completely deprive yourself of sweet treats. Instead, set some guidelines for yourself. For example, allow yourself to have one piece of candy after lunch and then one more after dinner. Another option would be to divide candy into weekly and daily portions. When it’s all gone, wait until the next day or week to have more. Allowing yourself to be able to have them and not restrict them completely may help decrease your cravings and less likely to binge. Set aside portions that you are comfortable with having and freeze the rest.

Third, give away Halloween treats. There is no better feeling than giving, especially around the holiday season. So, why not drive over to your nearest charitable organization, community center or daycare center and drop off uneaten and un-opened candy and other Halloween treats? You’ll feel like you did something productive and loving, and at the same time you will be taking away the temptation of binge eating. Remember, there is no law that dictates that you must have candy all over the house at Halloween. If you are too tempted to indulge on candy days before Halloween or after Halloween ends, encourage your children to “trade in” their candy for other items, such as a book, a new “app” or a special outing with you.

Finally, eat mindfully and thoughtfully. Slow down when you eat. Try not to rush. As you eat, avoid feeling guilt but focus on the good things in your life and all the good nutrition you are fueling your body with to make your body healthy and help all the organs function properly. If you feel that binge eating has become out of control for you, please know that help is available.

Halloween candy is delicious, but it is only a tiny part of the bigger picture. Avoid binge eating on Halloween and focus on celebrating how much you love and adore your partner, your kids, your family and your friends. We hope you have a Happy Halloween!

Here are some Halloween treat ideas that won’t spoil the nutritional balance in your life:

  • Cheese and cracker packages
  • Chewing gum
  • Boxes of animal crackers
  • Cheese sticks
  • Juice boxes (100% fruit juice)
  • Granola or cereal bars
  • Small packages of pretzels and popcorn
  • Small packages of sunflower seeds or nuts
  • Packages of instant cocoa mix
  • Peanuts in the shell
  • Individual cereal boxes
  • Balloons
  • Stickers
  • Crayons
  • Comic or coloring books
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Pencils
  • Silly Putty or bubbles
  • Whistles
  • Rubber spiders or worms