As we see the leaves on the ground and the retail stores starting to ramp up for the holidays, we are also reminded of one of the best things about the season to come – all of the delicious food and drink that we enjoy during the holidays. Starting with Halloween, for many of us, from the end of October until the ball drops at midnight on New Year’s Eve, we start snacking, baking, cooking, drinking, and stuffing ourselves with a lot of extra calories.
What can we do? It is easy to say “moderation is key”, but really, we need to find some effective tips to help us avoid over-eating and over snacking. Our team did some research and found the following tips we can all use from The Huffington Post recently:
1. Switch it up:
You often are thinking about the next piece of candy before finishing the one you have. To slow down and enjoy each piece of candy as you are eating it, eat with your non-dominate hand (if you are left handed, eat with your right). This will help prevent you from mindlessly popping candy into your mouth. Research indicates that this simple swap can cut down on how much you eat by approximately 30 percent.
2. Halloween “fairy”:
Robin Treasure, the Wellness Strategist states, “In our home (with a 5-year-old) the “candy fairy” appears at night after every holiday, takes all the candy, and leaves coins. The candy gets chucked mercilessly in the trash. (Our team thinks this is pretty “harsh”, but we concede that throwing it all away would work. It does seem like a waste, though!)
3. Pumpkin seeds:
If you’re super-stressed and anxious you’re going to stress eat! Here is a great Halloween tip to lower your stress and sugar cravings: Enjoy some spicy, roasted pumpkin seeds. They are high in zinc and tryptophan so they’ll raise serotonin, your happy and calming brain chemical. They’re also a great snack to help keep your blood sugar stable and mood even. We also love nuts for healthy snacks. Almonds, in particular, are easy to buy in bulk raw, and then you can roast them at 350 degrees with a little bit of olive oil, rosemary, and sea salt for about 20 minutes. This is one of our favorite snacks (and easy hostess gifts) for the holidays.
Have tahini or coconut oil with any Halloween candy to cut the sugar shock, but also maintain the fatty richness of the candy. Think of adding tahini as making an instant candy-filled version of Halva and coconut oil as a decadent buffer to your sugar buzz.
5. Go green this Fall:
Beginning with Halloween and all the way through Thanksgiving, decorate with organic pumpkins and squash and then eat the decorations! With bellies full of nutrient-dense foods, everyone is less likely to eat the sweets and junk food snacks!
If candy is still in the house post-Halloween, eat a breakfast of protein, such as eggs or turkey bacon, with healthy fat, such as avocado or almond butter, in order to prevent from being too hungry and wanting to reach for the candy.
7. Avoid emotional eating:
With all that extra sugar around, don’t let stress and overwhelm tip the scales! If you find your hand in the treat bowl or the cookie jar, ask yourself if candy or cookies are what you need or if there is a better fix for what you are really craving. Are you actually hungry, or are you tired, bored, stressed, or looking for a quick pick me up? Make a pact not to use Halloween treats and other junk food to feed your hidden hungers.
8. “Eat dessert first”:
To avoid big blood sugar swings that can keep you (and the kids) awake all night on Halloween and after, I recommend eating candy first and then winding down the evening with a high-protein dinner like chili or beef or turkey burgers. Keeping blood sugar more stable will calm cravings for even more sugar, and keep kids (and parents or grandparents) from waking up in the middle of the night with a blood sugar drop.
9. Sweeten your palates:
It may sound counterintuitive, but actually having healthier sweet treats keeps me away from candy and holiday baked treats. Our tradition: a bowl of homemade chili topped with avocado to keep blood sugar balanced and cravings at bay + a mug of warm, spiced apple cider. Spiced cider comforts, warms and aids digestion while knocking out sweet cravings. Using the “switch witch” and tossing out the candy doesn’t hurt either!
Being mindful of what we are eating and drinking is more than half of the battle. It is easy to pack in a lot of extra calories without even noticing it while socializing at parties or while sitting on the couch watching your favorite holiday movies. We also recommend (from personal experience) that having candy dishes loaded is not a great idea. Do not forget all the beautiful seasonal fruit and, as it gets dry in the winter months, keep drinking water to feel full and stay hydrated as well. Here’s to a happy, healthy, holiday season!