How to Have a Fun and Healthy Halloween!
Halloween should be a fun time celebrating the spooky season and letting your imagination run wild. However, Halloween candy can have a truly haunting effect on our bodies. While sneaking in a little chocolate bar here or there can seem harmless, the negative effects can slowly *creep* up on you if you’re not careful!
According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, we consume nearly 25 pounds of candy every year. Excessive sugar intake is a major contributing factor of rising obesity rates. It’s estimated that the average child will collect between 3,500 and 7,000 calories of candy while trick-or-treating! Spooked yet?
Whether you’re trying to moderate your own sweet tooth or prevent your kids from gobbling up their candy haul in one sitting, we have a few tips for the most common health-related Halloween challenges.
Effects of Sugar on the Body
Everyone knows that to have a healthy diet, candy should be avoided or eaten in small and infrequent portions. However, most people aren’t fully aware of the repercussions of sugars and fats found in candy.
Did you know that sugar has a similar effect on the brain as cocaine? It actually triggers the same reward center, making sugar quite addictive. That’s why you often have more of a sugar craving after you give into your sweet tooth.
Sugars come in all shapes, sizes, and names, so identifying them can be tricky.
A few of sugar’s aliases:
Brown rice syrup, brown sugar, concentrated fruit juice sweetener, cane sugar, confectioners’ sugar, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, galactose, glucose, granulated sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, invert, lactose, levulose, maltose, mannitol, maple sugar, molasses, natural sweeteners, raw sugar, sorbitol, turbinado sugar, white sugar, xylitol.
Candy labeled as “fat free” isn’t much better for you either. They’re still made of simple sugars that quickly elevate blood glucose levels which causes insulin levels to rise as well. If consumed in excessive amounts, these elevated insulin levels cause sugars to be stored in fat cells which can increase your risk of diabetes and obesity.
Another ingredient to beware of is “partially hydrogenated oils, or trans fats.” These fats are versions of vegetable oils that have been modified to have a longer shelf life. Trans fats raise the levels of bad cholesterol while lowering levels of good cholesterol. This can increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases if consumed excessively.
But what can you do to avoid excessive candy consumption?
Tips to Avoid the Candy Crave
It’s easy to lose control of you sweet tooth around Halloween. Whether you’re taking your kids trick-or-treating or purchasing candy for trick-or-treaters coming to your door, we have some practical tips for you to avoid eating too much candy.
- Don’t buy candy too early. Wait until the last minute to buy your trick-or-treat sweets to shorten the time that the tempting candy lingers around the house. The more time you leave candy sitting around the house, the more chances you have of being tempted to eat *just one*.
- Pick your least favorite candy. You’ll be less inclined to pick at the candy bowl if you’re not partial to that type of candy.
- Satisfy your sweet cravings naturally. If you’re craving something sweet, eat a piece of fruit instead. Fruits contain complex carbohydrates, which take longer to digest than simple carbohydrates found in candy sugars. This increases feelings of fullness, causing a slower rise of sugars in the bloodstream, and less of an insulin spike and storage in fat tissue.
- Keep candy out of sight. If you feel like you’re being tempted by the giant bowl of candy, keep it somewhere that’s not in plain view. Leave the bowl by your door, or even on the floor to make it less convenient for you to grab a piece. Do something active in another room to distract yourself while waiting for the trick-or-treaters to come.
- Get rid of it. Nothing good can come out of keeping extra candy around the house. Donate or give away any leftover candy. There are plenty of others who would appreciate candy donations.
Take the Focus Off the Candy
Another tip is to take the focus away from the candy, especially if you have children. There are plenty of other activities you can do with your family as a healthier or more active alternative to just eating candy on Halloween.
Here are just a few other fun family-friendly Halloween activities:
- Pumpkin carving! Get your creativity going by carving your own pumpkin to decorate the house. You can even collect the seeds from inside to roast later for a delicious and healthy snack.
- Take a trip to a local pumpkin farm. You can choose your own pumpkin to carve, enjoy a hayride, run through the corn maze, and possibly feed animals at a petting zoo.
- Cook delicious Halloween-themed recipes together. There are an endless supply of cute and quirky or spooky treats. Find a few here or kid-friendly ones here.
- Wear comfortable shoes so you can walk around with your kids as they go trick-or-treating. A good way to increase your step count!