SFC's The Happy Kitchen’s Take on Halloween and Health

There are plenty of resources out there about having a healthy Halloween. You can give out trail mix or toys instead of candy, make a healthier brownies healthier by adding applesauce, or limit the number of trick-or-treating houses that your kids visit. All of these are fine ideas, but in the grand scheme of overall health, we’re less concerned with one day of overindulgence and more concerned with how unhealthy choices can creep into our everyday lives.

Last week, we talked about making Food Day every day, but it’s important to keep Halloween at just one day a year. This means watching your sugar intake and eating mindfully on most other days. Here are some tips to make sure that Halloween habits aren’t sneaking into your everyday life:

1. Read the label.

If you’re not reading the label (or buying whole fruits and vegetables that don’t have a label), it can be hard to know what you are actually eating. Yogurt for breakfast and a salad for lunch seem like a healthy choice, but with the added sugars in flavored yogurt and store-bought salad dressings, you could easily reach the recommended maximum for added sugars with those two alone. Read more about interpreting the nutrition fact label on our blog.

2. Out of sight, out of mind.

When you buy things as an occasional treat for yourself, buy small servings, or keep the extras out of your regular path. If your candy is at the back of the pantry, or on a high shelf, you’ll be less tempted to grab a piece every time you come and go from the kitchen. I have a friend who leaves potato chips in the trunk of her car so that they’re not easy to dig into without thinking.

3. Cut back on soda.

Soda is the number one source of sugar in the American diet. The calories from soda are empty calories, meaning that they are not contributing to the recommended amounts of vitamins, minerals, and things our body actually needs, and one can of soda has more added sugar than the recommended amount for a full day. Try mixing equal parts 100% juice and sparkling water for a drink that is sweet and bubbly, without all the added sugar.

4. Stick with the calendar holidays.

When there is a holiday, like Halloween, don’t drag it out for the entire month. Enjoy it, and then put the candy away. And when we say calendar holidays, we’re talking about the occasional Valentine’s Day chocolate, Thanksgiving pies, or Halloween candy—not the increasingly popular National Donut Day, French Toast Day, Marshmallow Day, and beyond. There is always an excuse to make unhealthy choices, so start finding excuses to make healthy ones, and see our blog entry for how to make the healthy choices easier.

5. Take something healthy to the party.

Even if you stick to real calendar holidays, there will probably be other parties and celebrations that pop up. If you’re asked to bring a dish to a party or potluck, take something that you know is a healthy choice. You can usually count on others to fill in the cupcakes and chips, so taking something healthy means that you’ll feel good with at least one thing on your plate. Keep it simple with carrots and celery sticks or fresh fruit, or get into whole grain salads with lean protein.