There is no shortage of food celebrations to enrich the fall season. With Thanksgiving dinner behind us we are quickly approaching another celebration that involves loads and loads of sweets. Celebration and food often go hand in hand and that can make for a whole lot of fun. And that’s a good thing! And with some attention to our actions, the event can fun and balanced too!
With Halloween just around the corner, how do I make it through without any “scary” consequences. We are bombarded with temptations even before the day, with a plethora of candy on display at the stores and at school or office parties. How does one navigate between the scary costumes and the onslaught of empty calories from the candies, chocolate bars and sweets that are connected to this celebration?
The overall message is to keep the enjoyment high, find the “better for you” sweets in hopes of avoiding the dreaded shame (that my clients often talk). Here are some tips to help you on your way to have fun and stayed healthy too:
1. Set yourself up for success. Eat a balanced meal before you trick or treat with your little ones, dish out the candy at the door or venture out to a costume party. Creating a balanced plate of at least half vegetables, quarter protein and quarter carbohydrates will help to feel satiated, dropping the temptation to over reach for the sweets. A satisfying meal before any alcohol consumption is also a good plan.
2. Try alternative types of treats. A visit to the local craft store can help you find non-candy treats, such as cut ‘n paste booklets, stickers or fun stationary. Or stock up on treats that support movement such as jump ropes, bouncy balls or sidewalk caulk.
3. Out of sight. Out of mind. I will never forget when I tried this one when the kids were young. I even locked the stash in a cabinet and then inadvertently lost the key! Much to my surprise the aftermath was not bad as they quickly forgot about the candy, proving to me that the evening of fun was plenty for them. However, as they grew older the strategy did have to change a bit. Sometimes I removed some candy from their bags and used them at birthday parties. Trial and error. Personally, now we only buy Halloween candy just days before and only open the box on the evening of the 31st.
4. Staying well hydrated can help you control your sweet cravings. Instead of letting the favour stay in your mouth only to tempt you to have another, try drinking some water instead. You might be surprised now this can take your mind off the thought of “just another”.
5. Last but not least, celebrate!! I often get asked if I let my kids eat candy on Halloween. Afterall, a dietitian mom should have “rules”. I settled into the idea of letting them monitor their own intake without imposing limitations. They learned the very important skill of self regulation. I do believe in experiential learning and if they consumed too much and felt sick from sugar overload, they learned quicker than me trying to control their every last move. With the habits of a healthy balanced plate already established, it was easy to step back into this way of eating. One or two (or three) days of eating treats will not undo the years of healthy habit building. Self management of treats without feeling the guilt of consuming too much goes a long way to building healthy, happy lifetime eaters.