Halloween can be such a fun day full of costumes, parties, creativity, Harry Potter, and… Candy. Many of my new nutrition clients have stated that they dread this day because they know they’ll be tempted by candy. Some say they must wait to start eating better until after Halloween (or even after all the winter holidays) because they know they’ll overindulge.
I must say, I used to feel the same way! What’s the point in trying when you’re bombarded by sweets everywhere you go? I have found an approach that works for many of my clients and me. Today, I want to share that unique approach to Halloween and holidays in general that may help you make better food choices during the holidays.
Remember to balance your meals
Holidays can be incredible times to gather with friends and family. During these times, we want to be able to focus on building those relationships instead of dreading the weight gain that might follow. But how is that possible? How can I make healthy choices for my body when I’m surrounded by candy, cakes, cookies, pies, and, you know, ALL the good stuff?!
My friends, here’s the secret: it all comes down to balancing your meals and staying hydrated.
What do I mean by that? I mean, if you balance your meals throughout the day, regardless of the holiday, you will be much less likely to crave sweets and much less likely to overeat. Balancing your meals places you in a position to make better food choices. Choices that you can even feel great about afterward.
Can you imagine feeling good physically and mentally on the evening of Halloween? Doesn’t that sound like a dream? Well, that’s totally possible by balancing your meals!
Hydration also helps because we can often mistake thirst for hunger. If we stay hydrated, we prevent those extra hunger spells that could lead to overeating.
Do not get me wrong; I’m not saying you need to avoid all sweets on holidays. I definitely don’t! But feeding your body a balance of nutrients will prevent you from overdoing it later on.
What is a balanced meal?
A balanced meal has adequate protein, carbs, fat, and fiber. For example, a balanced meal could include grilled chicken (protein), brown rice (carb), pesto (fat), broccoli (fiber) and a glass of water. Check out our previous blog post titled How to Build a Satisfying Meal if you want a more in-depth answer to this question.
Many of my clients ask if they should skip a meal or two on Halloween (or Thanksgiving) because they know they’ll be overindulging in the evening. My answer for them? No. Do not skip meals on holidays. Please continue to enjoy balanced meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner on those days. This is the key to preventing you from overeating later on!
Even if you eat balanced meals, I know that you’re still likely to be surrounded by treats on those holidays. You can’t always prevent that, and that’s okay. Enjoying some candy on Halloween and some pie on Thanksgiving is built into the American culture. Go ahead and enjoy some of your favorite treats during the holidays. Trust me, if you’re balancing your meals, you’ll eat less of those treats than usual and feel better afterward.
What happens if I overeat on Halloween or other holidays?
Okay, even if you follow my tips to stay hydrated and eat balanced meals, there’s still a chance you can overeat. What do I have to say about that? First off, if we add up Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas – we’ll even count Christmas Eve – and New Year’s Eve/Day, we end up with only 5 days out of 3 months. What you eat on those five days will not ruin your health. It’s what you eat on a daily basis that has the most impact on your health.
Anyway, if you overeat, remind yourself that it was just one day. It doesn’t mean you should continue to eat that way for 3 whole months because your diet is “ruined.” If you balance your meals regularly, you are more likely to enjoy treats in moderation. This keeps you on a healthier path throughout the holidays and the rest of the year.
Many nutritionists recommend eating the best choices 80% of the time and allowing yourself to make less healthy choices 20% of the time. I must say that I somewhat agree with that. It is possible to improve health while indulging in favorite foods here and there. However, the idea that we should eat well 80% of the time sometimes leads to the thought that we should eat “perfectly” during the week and binge on the weekend.
(I do have clients who calculate this out and realize this rule means they need to eat perfectly for 5.5 days of the week and can eat whatever they want for 1.5 days of the week.) That is the part I do not agree with.
Planning a cheat day (or day and a half) is the same as planning a binge, and binging is a form of disordered eating. Don’t worry too much about the 80/20 rule. Instead, focus on getting your balance of nutrients at mealtimes as much as possible and enjoying treats in moderation. This prevents cravings and excess hunger, which helps you make better food choices all the time.
I’m sure that when you clicked on today’s post, you were likely wondering, “Is she going to share healthy Halloween recipes?” or “Is she going to give me the secret to avoiding candy?” or “Is she just going to tell me to take a family vacation away from all the sweets?” If you were, I hope I did not disappoint.
I figured the best advice I can give is on how to be as healthy as possible while still being surrounded by regular life events. It’s unrealistic to avoid holidays or events just to prevent ourselves from indulging. It’s better to understand how to control our food choices when we are presented with foods we know are not the best for our bodies.
If you learned something new from this post, please comment or share it! We love to hear from our readers. If you’re interested in learning more tips to reduce cravings, improve blood sugar levels, lose weight, and more, give us a call!
Written by Rachel Raymond, RDN