Staying Healthy During the Holidays. Even Halloween? Boo!

We officially are in “the season.” Oh, you know exactly what I’m talking about. The infamous season that lasts from September 1 to January 1, where all bikinis and bets are off. Translation: We become vacuums and eat everything we wish we could during the year because it’s the “holidays.” I like to call this the “diet danger zone.” It starts with the fun, fall-flavored lattes (with more sugar than you could imagine) at your local coffeehouse and then comes the true start of it all: Halloween.

Halloween comes with a vengeance because it’s sneaky! Most of the candy is cute, bite-size and mini, so we think it’s a green light to “just have a couple.” One here, one there, oh, maybe another one here (and there)…Next thing you know, you’re digging your way out of a mound of wrappers. Now, I am all about enjoying food and treats (hello, coffee toffee crunch cheesecake)…in moderation. There is a way to enjoy a healthy Halloween that will allow you to still splurge (a bit) and enjoy Thanksgiving and Christmas (the other days in between too…who are we trying to kid?!). You can avoid the holiday weight gain with these healthy holiday tips:

Choose healthy Halloween candy

Now, the most foolish thing I could do would be to go out and buy a bag of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups to hand out to trick-or-treaters. Why? Because the neighborhood little goblins would peg me as a “bad house” on the street because they wouldn’t get anything from me due to the fact that I would have eaten them all. My point? Go for the healthy Halloween snacks that won’t tempt you as much. These aren’t exactly healthy holiday treats, but they are lower in calories than a lot of their counterparts.

Here are a few examples of health(ier) Halloween treats:

  • M&Ms, plain, Fun size (18 g) – 88 calories and 12 g carb
  • Raisinettes (Fun size – about 16 pieces) clock in at 56 calories and 11 g carbs
  • Snickers Bars, Fun size (17 g) – 80 calories and 10 g carb
  • AbbaZabba, small (12 g) 50 calories and 11 g carb
  • Three Musketeers, Fun size (15 g) – 64 calories and 11 g carb

Also, you have my permission to feel no shame in ransacking your kid’s bag to find ONE piece of your favorite candy to enjoy. Make it a good one. Then it’s back to avoiding holiday weight gain through healthy food choices and exercise.

Remix Recipes

Healthy holiday eating takes some effort, but it can be really fun! Grab your kids (or your loved one) and get in the kitchen. Who says you can’t enjoy the season’s best food offerings? There are so many healthy Halloween recipes that you don’t have to miss out on anything while trying to take care of your body. Think simple with easy food swaps to turn a notoriously damaging dish into healthy holiday food.

Cook chili for Halloween? Your solution: Swap fatty ground beef with extra-lean ground turkey (you’ll never miss the beef) and make mini corn muffins (in mini muffin tins) to control portion size.

You can even make healthy holiday desserts…yes, healthy desserts. One way is to make traditional cereal bar treats with puffed brown rice cereal instead of the regular rice cereal. Swap whole-milk and cream in recipes (puddings, pies, etc.) with low-fat milk, non-fat milk or half-and-half to cut back on fat and calories. Use whole wheat flour in baking (or a 50/50 mix of white/whole wheat flour) to up the fiber and nutritional value. Little tweaks here and there can really be helpful without sacrificing flavor and fun.

Move your body for goodness sake!

Put down the remote. Put one leg in front of the other…now the other…now repeat. Find an activity you love to do with family or friends and go for it. Go on a hike, plant a garden (gardening is more labor-intensive than you’d think!), go indoor rock climbing, or go snowboarding or skiing.

The point is: yes, you’ll be consuming a bit more calories than normal so you must work out a little bit more to negate them. Take a walk before or after meals; not only do you get the benefit of exercise, but you can engage in meaningful conversation with your friends or family. Don’t get so caught up in the holiday hustle and bustle that you forget that healthy holidays start with YOU. Get moving!

If you continue to exercise regularly (aim for 45 minutes a day, 5-7 times a week) and keep up with healthy eating during the holidays, you will not become another one of the holiday weight gain statistics. Remember that Halloween is the start of temptation galore and if you stick with your nutrition plan, you can indulge a little and still stay healthy during the holidays.

Jessica Kerr is a writer and nutrition and wellness coach. She currently writes for and enjoys helping people live healthier, more enjoyable lives through her practical fitness and food tips.

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