A "healthy Halloween" seems like an oxymoron, right? First there's trick or treating with alllll the candy coming into your house. Then there are Halloween parties with snacks, treats, and 21+ drinks. And don't forget about work! You just want to go in and do your job but now there is candy on half of your coworkers' desks and the break room is flooded with treats and everyone's kids' unwanted candy.
Listen, I get it. It can feel hard and stressful to have so much food stuff going on if you're working on health goals or trying to implement some sustainable healthy habits. Halloween can quickly go from being a fun day to an anxiety-producing one (and not just because of haunted houses - I can't help ya there).
But ya know what? Halloween can 100% still be a fun day. Even in the midst of health goals (yes, even weight loss) or obstacles like medical conditions or food allergies, you can absolutely still enjoy Halloween and everything that comes with it by using these practical healthy Halloween strategies.
Healthy Halloween Tips
1. Make a plan.
Some of my clients can attest that working together leaves them pumping the breaks. Some are used to big changes, regimented plans. Me? I advocate a focus on small changes and daily growth. What does this look like in practice? Making a plan each day (yes, every day!) that is REALISTIC for you, your goals, your preferences, and your life!
By taking it one day at a time, it is so much simpler to actually create a lifestyle based on consistency that still works for you and all you've got going on in life. Including Halloween! Creating a daily plan helps you be intentional. So as you're thinking through your day (usually the night before or morning of), think of anything you know is coming up: the work lunch potluck, the staff meeting with the supervisor that always brings candy and donuts, and trick or treating with your kids. Think through: what is going to make you feel your best? What moments do you really enjoy? What foods do you really enjoy? Maybe it means bringing your favorite salad to enjoy alongside your coworker's legendary slow cooker mac and cheese for the potluck lunch. Maybe it means passing on the meeting treats, because the donuts are always stale by the afternoon and you know a bunch of sugar mid-afternoon just makes you sleepy and unproductive. And then maybe it means giving yourself permission to say yes yes to a couple pieces of candy with your kids.
Something about creating your plan (and writing it down) can really help minimize fear, stress, anxiety, and allow you to proceed throughout your day without having to rely on "willpower" or spur of the moment decisions that stress you out. This allows you to be realistic to yourself, your goals, and still have fun.
2. Get outside!
Whether it's enjoying some fall weather for a mid-day lunch break walk, signing up for a Halloween costume 5K, or simply walking around trick-or-treating with your kids, get outside! Both getting out in nature and moving your body can be great ways to implement healthy habits while still enjoying Halloween festivities.
(And given how I've been seeing more and more trick or treating happening in cars and golf carts in very safe neighborhoods with houses close together, just a PSA that it can still be fun and enjoyable to walk!)
3. Eat a balanced dinner before trick-or-treating.
It's easy to get caught up in the rush of getting home, getting costumes ready, and getting everyone out the door to go trick-or-treating, but aim for a balanced dinner beforehand! What's a balanced dinner? Aim for protein, healthy fat, and fiber-rich carbohydrates (like whole grains, fruits, vegetables). Some ideas? Pizza quinoa casserole, beanless beef & vegetable chili, taco stuffed peppers, autumn chicken sausage sheet pan dinner, and easy gluten-free lo mein. (P.S. These are all meals that can be entirely made ahead or made in 30 minutes or less!)
4. Wait to enjoy candy until after you're home from trick-or-treating.
Waiting to enjoy trick-or-treating loot until you're back home is important for a variety of safety purposes for you and your kids (i.e. open candy packages, choking hazards, minimizing distractions when out in the dark to be more aware of personal safety, etc.). Have fun with this process. Involve the kids in sorting to make sure there are no open packages.
Have food allergy concerns? Use this time to ensure treats received are safe to consume. Check out the Teal Pumpkin Project from Food Allergy Research & Education for more information and resources for safer Halloweens for all!
5. Eat the candy.
Yup. Seriously - eat the dang candy. If you couldn't tell from my first point, I am absolutely not a fan of unnecessary restriction. But here's my caveat: actually enjoy it.
Don't pop in piece after piece barely tasting it. Don't use it to quell any stress or anxieties you may experience. Just enjoy it. Savor it.
You can do this with your kids, too! As you're sorting your candy for safety purposes, talk about what candies you see and what everyone's favorites are. Talk about what you which candies you want to enjoy tonight and which you want to enjoy tomorrow.
What to do with all that candy come November 1st?
This is really up to you.
I have zero judgement - we're all just doing our best! But professionally, I wouldn't advocate for throwing your kids' candy away after they've gone to bed, and I'd even be cautious with the "Switch Witch." This can compromise your child's trust and can instill a food morality system that doesn't actually exist.
What to try instead? Let your kids (and you!) enjoy some candy here and there. Freeze it. Bake with it (and freeze that if it makes a ton!). Gift it to our troops as a thank you for their service (this can be a great segway into a season of gratitude for Thanksgiving!).
I hope you feel empowered to make some healthier Halloween choices with these healthy Halloween tips - without the drama of stress, anxiety, or punitive restriction around food. Have fun!