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Wednesday
Oct232013

Healthy Halloween!

It’s officially that time of year. Halloween kicks off a good four months of holiday fun--running the hectic course from Thanksgiving to Christmas to New Year’s to Valentine’s Day. It may be a kid’s paradise, but it’s a scary time for my clients who worry about the constant diversions that can derail their weight loss program. Although temptations will abound, I assure them there are plenty of ways to stay the course while enjoying this festive time of year. A little creativity and careful forethought go a long way in these months. Whether you’ll be taking your children out or just handing out treats to the neighborhood kids, there are plenty of ways to keep the time less sugar-bound. To officially kick off the holiday season, check out these tips to celebrate a Happy Halloween all while maintaining your healthy way of life!

A Healthier Halloween for You...

Procrastinate

If you’re planning to give out candy on Halloween night, don’t buy the treats until the day or two before the event. Rest assured, the grocery stores will have plenty! You might even get it on sale (bonus!), but it also won’t be sitting around the house for several days calling your name from the cabinet. 

Make your own healthier treats.

Instead of buying the prepared and highly processed options at the store, make the time to really test out your baking skills alone or with your kids. This is the time of year when a little (healthier) treat can be fun. If your family carves pumpkins, by all means roast the seeds. Try making your own homemade chocolates and fudges using healthier ingredients.    

Have your pumpkin and eat it too! 

Because pumpkin is so seasonal this time of year, coffee shops, restaurants and fast food chains pick up on the theme and use it to their advantage by creating sugar-filled coffee beverages and treats. Don’t give in to those energy crashes! Instead, embrace your pumpkin fix in other ways. I’m famous for adding canned pumpkin to my protein shakes in the morning (with a little cinnamon!) or combining canned pumpkin with almond butter to make some seasonal, lower carbohydrate cookies.  

Trick-or-treat with your kids.

I loved having my mom or dad with me when I was trick-or-treating, but this event does create the opportunity to get exercise and more steps in! Make a goal of how many houses you’ll visit, and make sure everyone is wearing comfortable, walking-friendly shoes. Halloween might actually be one of the few holidays that encourages movement.

Sidestep the break room.

Coworkers are infamous this time of year for bringing in treats to share during or after the holiday (so they don’t eat them at home!). Don’t fall for those freebie temptations (there’s a cost all right!). Instead, try to encourage more walking trips during your break times. If you like to share, bring in some seasonal apples and heat up some almond butter with cinnamon for a nice dip.  

A Healthier Halloween for the Trick-or-Treaters...

One of the most popular questions I’m asked this time of year is “Anika, do you give out candy on Halloween?” Halloween is my favorite holiday, which means I absolutely love waiting by the door and seeing the little tykes all dressed up and excited. For kids, candy certainly looms large in their holiday imaginations, but I also like to think they get most excited about the bigger hoopla of it all: getting dressed up, going out at night, participating in parties and games, etc. But I do know nutrition professionals who either avoid the entire holiday completely (keep the lights out and doors locked) or opt in by giving out healthier treats. Whatever the case, at the end of the day, it’s up to each family to create their house rules governing what happens to the candy after a night of trick-or-treating. Below are a few ideas for parents who are looking to minimize the sugar shock but maximize the fun.  

Get rid of the candy! 

I’ve heard tons of ideas around this, but every parent should know what works best in their household. My parents let us keep a small bag of candy (while they dumped the rest) and allocated a piece of it to us on a weekly cadence after dinner. I’ve heard of other parents having their kids “sell” their candy to them in exchange for healthier (but favorite) treats, privileges, outings, or gift cards. Some dentists even offer programs that allow kids to “sell” their candy to them. 

Don’t give out candy. 

For a few years, I’ve given out glow sticks and an assortment of fun toys like bouncy balls or stickers. Some of my clients give out prepackaged apple slices or natural gummy bears (with no artificial colors or flavorings).  

Do something different. 

You can always choose to not participate at all or opt for a different kind of celebration. I’ve heard of families who still dress up in their costumes but instead go to a movie, host a party or go bowling on Halloween night. Do what works best for your household!

Bonus Treats for the Whole Family...

Spiced Nuts

Instead of keeping candy dishes all around the house for guests or your family, keep a dish or two filled with this healthy snack. You can use any nut or mixture of nuts with this recipe. (My all time favorite is pecans.) You can also experiment with any seasonings and flavorings you like. I’m also known to make these and give them away as holiday gifts to family and friends later in the season.

Ingredients:

  •  2 cups of pecans
  •  2 Tbsp butter
  • ¼ tsp cayenne
  • 4 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • Stevia to taste (optional)

Directions:

Melt the butter in a large skillet. (You’ll want this big enough to allow pecans to be in one layer). Add your cayenne and liquid stevia. Add the pecans to the skillet and cook them over medium heat, stirring every 30-40 seconds for a total of 2 minutes, or until they begin to brown (be careful not to burn!). Stir in the cinnamon and sea salt, then remove from the pan and place nuts into a large bowl. Letting them cool before sampling will give you the best “taste,” and help you add more seasoning accordingly.

Pumpkin Shake Recipe

This shake is super simple and super good!  Add or take away cinnamon to taste. I’ve had clients also add their own pumpkin pie spice as well for extra flavor!  

Ingredients:

  • 1 ounce of pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 6 ounces of almond milk
  • 2 scoops of vanilla whey
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Ice 

Blend ingredients together until you get a preferred consistency, and enjoy! 

Thanks for reading today, everybody. What are your favorite strategies for staying the course on Halloween, and how will you be celebrating this year? Happy Halloween! 

Written by Anika DeCoster – Program Manager of Life Time Weight Loss

This article is not intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor as a substitute for medical treatment, nor as an alternative to medical advice. Use of recommendations in this and other articles is at the choice and risk of the reader.

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