Boo! The only thing to be frightened of on Halloween is a potential nutrition faux pas as you slip into a sea of overindulgence. Surrounded by office candy, sugary liquor at parties, and the towering candy racks at the store doesn’t make it easy. Never fear! As your resident dietitian I’m here to share a few tips and tricks that will help you scare away those Halloween cravings, yet still make room for a few indulgences.
When we were little, we hemmed and hawed as we boastfully laid out our trick-or-treating treasures for our moms after a night of furious doorbell soliciting, but mom let us select THREE candies for the evening, and one per night thereafter. (We later learned she was hoarding some for herself. This is why we need to be wary of government, y’all!) Anyways, we hate to admit that she was right. She was practicing portion control and even some mindful eating techniques; by allowing us to think deeply and select the very best treat. Mom ensured we were going to truly savor every bite of our candy, and not just mindlessly gorge on a plastic pumpkin full of sugar in a race against our friends had to race for the Pepto Bismol – you know you’ve been there!
As a dietitian, I recommend the same; choose 1-2 pieces of candy you adore on Halloween night, and enjoy it! Perhaps with a serving of fruit? It only seems right to throw some vitamins/phytochemicals in the mix.
Not all candies are created equal. Added sugars are never your friend (your dentist solemnly agrees), but there are lessers of evils. In general, the more peanut/caramel/chocolate it has, the more likely it is loaded with fats, oils, and fillers (lookin’ at you: Reeses, Milky Way, Twix, Almond Joy, M&Ms) . But even the “pure” sugar candies like Skittles, Swedish Fish, and Nerds, are not really any better. They have tons of crazy coloring and chemicals that won’t do you any favors. And since they have zero fat (which they LOVE to tout on their labels), there is absolutely nothing stopping all that sugar from zipping straight into your bloodstream.
Our favorites are Peppermint Patties, Three Musketeers, and dark chocolate Raisinets. They’re a bit “lighter” in fat and calories, still sinfully delicious, and ultimately satisfying enough that you won’t feel deprived.
Companies have noticed that the public is anti-chemical, so some, like Justin’s and Amy’s, have created “cleaner” candies that rival the taste of the classics but skip the junky additives. Justin’s peanut butter cups have even made their way into Starbucks. These are a great alternative to the traditional candy lines, but be warned, they do not sacrifice calories, sugar, and fat from the original versions so they still will erode your calorie bank and augment your body mass index.
When you head to the store to stock up your candy arsenal for trick-or-treaters, choose a candy you personally hate so that you aren’t tempted by the supersize bag in the pantry. It will also stop you from nibbling on Halloween night.
The bottom line is this: portion control. One Kit Kat won’t offend us, but 17 will. Mindful indulgence will leave you feeling refreshed and happy on November 1st when you awaken and not bloated like a pumpkin.
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