By Ali Johnson
Halloween is supposed to be scary, but not for your diet! Adults and kids alike look forward to Halloween every year, and there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy the holiday and all it has to offer while still sticking to your nutrition guidelines and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. In fact, I think it’s important to teach our children that it’s ok to indulge in a treat here and there as long as we maintain a balanced diet (with plenty of exercise) overall. And what better way to show our kids how it’s done than to model it ourselves? All you have to do is follow these easy tips and….
Eat a healthy meal before trick or treating.
Most trick or treat times don’t start until after the sun goes down, so this is a perfect opportunity to cook and enjoy a healthy meal before you start knocking on doors and asking for candy. If you fill up on good food first, you’re less likely to overindulge on candy because you won’t be hungry. This goes for your kids, as well- while they’re certainly going to want to eat some candy here and there (and they should, it’s Halloween!) it will be easier for them to control their candy cravings if they’ve filled up on nutritious food ahead of time. This is also a great opportunity to cook a fun, Halloween-inspired meal! Check out this recipe for “blood-shot eyes (eggs) in spaghetti squash”, or this one for curried pumpkin soup. What kid wouldn’t want to eat dinner out of a pumpkin?
Set guidelines prior to trick or treating.
A lot of kids (and adults) respond well to structure, so make a plan before you head out trick or treating. This is a great time to talk to your kids about portion control and moderation, and it’s another good opportunity for you to model these values for your children. Talk about how long you plan to trick or treat, how many houses you’d like to visit, how many pieces of candy your kids can take at each house, how many pieces they’re allowed to eat while trick or treating, and what you plan to do with any leftover candy (more tips on that later). Set goals for yourself as well to stop yourself from mindlessly eating candy as you go- I know if I plan to limit myself to 3 pieces, I’ll choose those 3 pieces much more wisely than if I just ate the candy whenever I felt like it…and I’d enjoy it more, too!
Make a plan for leftover candy.
When you’re finished trick or treating, have you kids divide the candy into 2 groups- the candy they like and want to keep, and the candy they don’t like. Then, talk about what to do with the candy they don’t want. You can bargain with them to trade their leftover candy for a non-food related treat, such as a small toy or a chance to stay up late one night. Or, consider donating it to a food pantry, the Ronald McDonald House, your local police or fire station, or a senior citizens’ home. And since we’re located in such a military-friendly town, there are plenty of military bases that I’m sure would be happy to receive the candy for servicemen and women to snack on in their squadrons. You can even box it up and send it to a soldier who’s deployed. (I have a feeling our fearless leader, Joey, wouldn’t mind some extra candy being sent his way!)
Walk, don’t drive, from house to house.
I don’t know about you, but when I was little I was never given the option to be driven during trick or treating. My parents had us out walking the neighborhoods even when it was 30 degrees, raining, and/or snowing in Chicago. Nowadays, I see more and more parents opting to drive their kids from house to house, which honestly I think takes away some of the fun of trick or treating, not to mention you’re depriving your kids (and yourself) of a great exercise opportunity. Instead of driving, make it a game to see how many steps you can take, or how many streets and houses you can visit. Just make sure you wear comfortable shoes and bring plenty of water to help wash down the candy. And don’t forget to talk to your kids about the importance of maintaining a balanced lifestyle; it’s ok to indulge in treats here and there, but follow it up with plenty of water and exercise!
Keep it in perspective, and remember balance.
Halloween is only one day a year, and eating candy isn’t going to ruin all your fitness progress or destroy your kids’ teeth and overall health. In CrossFit, we often practice “flexible dieting” which allows you to indulge in dessert or other less nutritious foods here and there. If you let yourself give in to your cravings occasionally, you’re more likely to stick with your diet overall. Have a cookie or a piece of candy, and then follow it up with a nutritious meal and plenty of water instead of thinking “oh my diet is ruined for today, I might as well order a pizza and just call it quits.” Also, kids who are given junk food now and again don’t see it as a big deal, and are more likely to practice portion control than kids who never get sugar and then totally lose it when given the chance to eat candy. Follow up the day after Halloween with your regular diet and exercise routine, cook healthy food, and you and your kids will be back on track before you know it. And hopefully you’ll have some great Halloween memories, as well.
How do you plan to have a healthy Halloween? We’d love to hear from you- comment below! And Happy Halloween from CF3P…stay safe and have fun!