Public health experts have estimated the average trick-or-treater collects more than 3,500 calories of candy on Halloween. But it’s not just youngsters digging into the stash. The average American (adults included) will consume 3.4 pounds of candy, which is roughly the amount of food we eat in one day.
“It’s unrealistic to expect everyone to avoid treats altogether during Halloween, but moderation here is key,” said Lindsay Langford, MS, RD, CSSD, sports dietitian with St.Vincent Sports Performance. “It can easily spiral out of control if you aren’t consciously making an effort. One fun size candy bar may not be horrible, but they add up quickly.”
Halloween indulgence can also set a tone for the rest of the holiday season, said Langford, who is also the Indiana Pacers team sports dietitian. Follow her 10 tips for a healthy holiday that won’t add inches to your waistline or send you into a sugar coma:
1. Carve up a pumpkin recipe: Pumpkins – not of the spiced latte kind – have countless health benefits. They’re high in carotenoids and zinc, which can help fight off bacteria; beta-carotene, an antioxidant that helps prevent cholesterol buildup; alpha-carotene to prevent cataracts and slow aging; and fiber and potassium, which both promote a healthy metabolism and lower hypertension risk. Ditch the pie in favor of a creamy soup, stir-fry or salad topping.
2. Snack on seeds: Pumpkin seeds have 33 percent more protein than most other nuts and seeds and have 20 percent less calories than almonds or cashews. They’re also a great source of fiber, iron and magnesium, which promotes satiety and the firing of muscles. Sprinkle seeds with cinnamon and bake for a healthy snack. Or, pick up a bag of Bark Thins Snacking Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Seed with Sea Salt for a tasty treat.
3. Serve up tasty, but healthier treats: Opt to hand out less-traditional goodies to trick-or-treaters like popcorn, apples, trail mix, granola bars, 100 percent fruit snacks, dark chocolate, pretzels, dried fruit, nuts or mini boxes of cereal.
4. Fill up before heading out: Foods rich in fiber and carbohydrates will help keep trick-or-treaters (and chaperones) full and minimize snacking. A peanut butter sandwich with fruit should do the trick.
5. Reduce baggage: While pillowcases may be convenient, a smaller sized basket or bag will fill up faster and reduce sugar overindulgence.
6. Walk it off: Head out before it gets too dark and avoid the temptation to drive house to house.
7. The best of the worst: If you can’t avoid the temptation altogether, choose hard candies, as they typically take more time to eat and satisfy the sweet tooth longer. If you’re craving chocolate, 3 Musketeers will save you 50 calories and 5-10 grams of fat over other options.
8. Use leftovers wisely: Aim to pair each piece of candy with a healthy snack, such as an apple, banana or celery. Add packets of M&M’s to trail mix with almonds, pumpkin seeds and dry-roasted edamame or chop up a candy bar and add it to Greek yogurt.
9. Track your treating: Whether you use a fitness app on your phone or jot down calories by hand, don’t indulge mindlessly. Even something as simple as leaving wrappers out on the counter can be surprisingly effective.
10. Give it away: Resist the urge to keep all your goodies in the house. Get rid of unwanted and excess items.