Simple strategies to health-ify a holiday that glorifies refined sugar without sacrificing your enjoyment!
Remember the excitement of Halloween as a kid? The intricate homemade costumes (often thanks to your mom), the trick-or-treating route carefully planned to maximize your sugary loot…
And the candy. ALL THE FUN-SIZED CANDY!
I remember dumping that pillowcase stuffed with Kitkats, Snickers, Milky Ways, and M&Ms – God forbid there was an apple in there – on to the kitchen table at the end of a successful trick-or-treating mission to count every single piece of candy, praying that I would have the most impressive haul of all my friends.
Then we’d go HAM on that sweet stash! I’d eat at least one of every type of candy in my collection and then some, until I was bouncing off the walls faster than a super ball. For the next week, I swear I was running on straight up sugar, sneaking a Halloween treat from the candy drawer every chance I got.
As a reformed sugar addict, I can’t help but shudder at the amount of processed, refined sugary garbage I subjected my body to every Halloween. Seriously, my blood glucose levels must’ve been pre-diabetic for a week straight.
Even though I’ve gained a few more years of wisdom and a far better understanding of the damaging effects of processed sugar since then, let’s be real – Halloween still isn’t without its unhealthy temptations.
As adults we’ve traded in the trick-or-treating and the pillowcase chock full of fun-sized candies for the Halloween ragers overflowing with cookies, candy, and of course, lots and lots of alcohol.
So what’s a health conscious human to do on a holiday that glorifies sugar?!
With these 7 tips, you can make any Halloween party healthy without sacrificing your happy so you don’t lay your health to rest in an early grave.
7 TRICKS FOR A HEALTHY HALLOWEEN
1. RIP “RESTRICTION”
Why do 98% of diets fail? Because they’re way too restrictive. “You can’t have this cookie,” “you can’t have that donut,” “oh, and don’t even think about that slice of cake…”
When you’re constantly told you can’t do something, what do you do?
You do it anyways! We don’t like to be told “no,” so it’s our natural inclination to rebel and do what we’re not supposed to in an effort regain power and control of the situation.
Unfortunately, when it comes to our diets, this act of giving the middle finger to the man becomes a screw-it-all binge of sweets, treats, and alcohol that spikes your blood sugar, inflames your body, packs on the hard-lost pounds, and leaves you feeling like shit, ultimately derailing all that hard work you put into being the best version of you.
So it’s time to lay the ineffective concept of total restriction to its final resting place this Halloween. Instead of setting yourself up for failure by swearing you’re not going to have any treats, sweets, or adult beverages at that Halloween party, it’s time to resurrect a new mentality…
2. EMBRACE THE 80/20 RULE
The 80/20 rule is key to making a diet/lifestyle change sustainable. In a nutshell, it suggests that you keep your diet totally clean 80% of the time while leaving 20% to get a little wild and crazy by eating foods that don’t necessarily fit in the “clean eats” category. Personally, I follow more of a 95/5 ratio because everything you consume has an impact on your body, but ultimately, what matters is finding a ratio that works for you.
By embracing this mentality, the suffocating steel cage of restriction goes out the window, giving your mind the space it needs to prevent rebellion. This way you can have that cookie, donut, or slice of cake… just in moderation!
You can use the 80/20 rule to tackle your Halloween festivities in a couple different ways. For example, when attending a Halloween party, strike a deal with yourself that for every 4 healthy choices you make, you can have one treat. Alternatively, you could up your clean eating percentage to 100% the week prior and then go all out at the Halloween bash.
Whatever strategy you choose, sticking to a minimum 80/20 rule will keep your health goals on track while giving you the bit of freedom you deserve to live your life and enjoy your Halloween treats!
3. EAT A REAL FOOD DINNER BEFORE YOU PARTY
This one’s pretty simple: if you’re headed to a party or gathering where you know there will be tempting treats, prime your system with a real meal consisting of protein, healthy fat, and dense carbohydrates before you go.
This is going to set you up for success on several levels:
- You’ll be physically and mentally satiated
- Your sugar cravings will be kept in check
- You won’t tempted to mindlessly snack
- Your body will have the raw materials it needs to make energy to keep you going strong
- It will help you metabolize sugar slower so your blood sugar doesn’t spike as severely
- It will also help you metabolize alcohol slower your blood alcohol content doesn’t rise as quickly
You have to eat… so just do it before you party down to the Monster Mash! Having a real food meal in your gut will not only help quash the urge to go all out on the sweets, but it will also keep you feeling better longer so you can end your night on a high note!
4. FOCUS ON QUALITY
When the time comes to indulge in a festive treat, trade up for the highest quality option. Instead of going straight for the refined sugar filled Snickers bars, check if there’s a desert option that’s more in line with your usual eating standards. Look for treats with your favorite labels like organic, non-GMO, Fair Trade certified, gluten free, etc.
Instead of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, how about a Justin’s Organic Dark Chocolate Covered Almond Butter Cup? Or instead of an Almond Joy, eat a coconut macaroon!
The same goes for alcohol. For example, instead of drinking the cheapest bottle of vodka take the extra second to scan the party’s alcohol collection to see if there’s a bottle of Tito’s gluten free vodka you can enjoy instead!
When you eat crap, you feel like crap. By up-leveling the quality of what you’re consuming, you’re lowering the number of chemicals, preservatives, and “food-like” substances your body will have to filter and digest, so you have a solid shot at feeling top notch the next day.
5. BRING A PALEO TREAT TO SHARE
If you know the gathering you’re attending will be a food wasteland, bring a real food treat to share with your friends!
If you’ve got some skills in the kitchen, whip up a homemade treat! Paleo has come a long way in the past 10 years so now more than ever, there are a plethora of paleo-approved dessert recipes to satisfy any type of sweet tooth! Think paleo pumpkin sugar cookies, pumpkin muffins, gummy candies… the list goes on! Simply Google “paleo” followed by the dessert you desire and several recipes are bound to pop up.
If baking isn’t really your thing, don’t worry – there are options! In addition to the explosion of recipes, the amount of paleo-friendly and gluten free products in grocery stores has also increased substantially. You’ll have the best luck at a natural foods market like Whole Foods, but look for grab and go products like Simple Mills Almond Flour Cookies, Coco-Roons Vanilla Maple Coconut Cashew Macaroons, Siete Foods Almond Flour Tortilla Chips, or Hail Merry Gluten Free Dark Chocolate Tarts!
Don’t be the person that shows up with the bag of apples just because you’re a healthy eater. By spending just a short time in the kitchen or a few minutes at the grocery store, you’ll be prepared with a high quality sweet treat sure to impress your friends, while upholding your food values!
6. HOLD YOURSELF ACCOUNTABLE
How much more likely are you to show up for someone who’s waiting for you than you are to show up for yourself? A heck of a lot more! This type of accountability can also be used to great effect when you have a healthy Halloween party goal you want to achieve!
Say your goal at the Halloween Party is to keep your treat intake to just 3 sugary items. If you keep this goal to yourself, when that 3rd sweet passes your lips and starts its descent to your gut the temptation to eat a 4th, 5th, and 6th will take hold, and… you’ll eat them. You’re the only one who knows about this goal, right? So if you fail it’s no big deal. But at the end of the night, not only will you be suffering from a sugar crash, but you’ll be awash in the guilt of once again letting yourself down.
Instead of continuing to repeat this dreadful cycle of unfilled promises, employ a trusted friend or partner to hold you accountable. Share your healthy Halloween party goal with them and then check in throughout the night and share updates on your progress. When that 4th treat starts to look really tempting, instead of going for it, your accountability partner will be there to turn to for support. Share the temptation you’re facing, ask them for a healthier recommendation, and have them watch you like a hawk! You won’t want to let them down so the likelihood of sticking to your guns and crushing your goal will be at an all-time high, leaving you feeling great about yourself and your night!
7. WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS, JUST ENJOY!
Sometimes, despite the best intentions, things just don’t go according to plan. Maybe you didn’t have time to eat dinner or you didn’t have the right ingredients to make that homemade paleo treat to share, so when you arrive at the party starving, your only option is a spread of refined sugar filled sweets and treats. Life happens!
In these situations, the best thing you can do is just relax, enjoy, and eat. Don’t beat yourself up because all that’s going to do is turn on your stress response, which will diminish your metabolic power by up to fourfold and cause you to store fat.
Instead, take a few deep breaths and eat those cookies with an attitude of gratitude. Reframe the situation from one of guilt and failure, to one of joy and happiness! This will help keep your body in the “rest and digest” response, allowing for maximum digestive power to keep your system functioning smoothly and you feeling good.