Dieting Horrors! How to Survive the Halloween Treat Fest

Jennifer L. Nelson
6

I'm afraid of Halloween, and for reasons that have nothing to do with ghosts, zombies, and things that go bump in the night.

This is the time of year when my weight loss efforts notoriously fall off track, and it all begins with Halloween's abundance of chocolate-covered everything, orange-frosted cupcakes, and festive pumpkin donuts. Last year I gave myself permission to eat pretty much anything I so desired in the weeks spanning from Halloween through New Year's -- because, after all, it was "the holidays" -- and, sure enough, I was busting out of my jeans come January 1st.

This year I'm determined to hang on to my solid 90-pound loss and survive the spookiest night of the year with my commitment to healthy habits still intact. Here are some things we can do to avoid letting that pesky sweet tooth derail all of our hard work this Sunday, and in the stress-filled weeks to come.

Plan for a few indulgences. If you tell your kid they can't have something, do they not incessantly ask for, obsess over, and cry about it until you give in (just to stop the madness)? It's human nature to want what we can't have, so if you make the decision to deprive yourself of any and all contact with those fun-size Snickers bars, there's a good chance that all you'll be thinking about is sinking your teeth into its nougat-y goodness ... until you ultimately cave and eat one. Or six.

Instead, I say give yourself permission to enjoy one or two treats that you really, really want, and it'll make saying 'no' to everything else (like your kids' candy castoffs) that much easier. This year, my boyfriend and I are decorating our own caramel apples -- because, um, at least the apple is healthy? -- and baking a ghost-shaped batch of these pumpkin roll-out cookies. (Just don't tell him I'm swapping the butter for unsweetened applesauce and using whole wheat flour.)

My other little trick? Don't toss the wrappers from the candy you've eaten right away. Keep them out in plain sight as a reminder that you've already had two mini bags of peanut M&Ms. The physical evidence might just keep you from reaching for a third.

Give the rest away. Do not -- I repeat, do not -- let any remaining treats take up permanent residence in your home. Halloween is just one day, and it needs to be treated as such. If any children should ring my doorbell after 8 p.m., they'll almost certainly be met with a heaping mound of candy. I want it out of eating distance, even if that means dumping half a pound of Reese's Cups into the trick-or-treat bag of a costumed Spider-man or Snow White.

Give any leftovers away, throw it in the trash, do whatever you have to do to keep it out of your mouth and off your hips. Don't go tossing your kids hard-earned candy, of course, but do request that they stash it in an undisclosed location where you're unlikely to find it (preferably their bedroom). In other words, pretend it never existed.

Be the "uncool" mom. Nobody wants to disappoint the hordes of sugar-crazed kids by being the boring stop on the trick-or-treat circuit. You know the one: the house that hands out bat-shaped mini pretzels, spare change, or plastic spider rings. But if you know for a fact you'll have trouble keeping your paws out of the candy bowl, it might be a good idea to consider handing out something that's inedible.

The other option is to purposely buy candy you don't particularly like  -- quite frankly, that leaves me with very few options -- or treats that aren't quite as dangerous should you give into temptation. I like to dole out 100-calorie popcorn balls and 60-calorie Tootsie pops: goodies that take a bit longer to eat and aren't quite as detrimental to a healthy diet as, say, a Snickers bar. You know how its commercials claim to "satisfy your hunger?" Well, it should -- that candy bar you devour in five or six bites packs nearly 300 calories, 14 grams of fat, and 30 grams of sugar. [Insert screams here].

Most kids get more than their fair share of the bad stuff on Halloween, so there's no need to feel guilty if you're the cause of one less Baby Ruth bar in their plastic pumpkin head.

Work it Off. Hitting the gym or going for a walk is sound advice any time of the year, but seeing as how we're all human and bound to give in to a couple of festively-sprinkled Munchkins or a handful of candy corn (one of the better options, by the way -- you can have 22 pieces of this fat-free candy for just under 150 calories), don't forget that you can and should try to squeeze in some extra activity this weekend.

If your children are of trick-or-treating age, you have the perfect excuse to start burning off those extra calories. Doll them up in their Halloween duds and take a stroll around the neighborhood, knowing that you're on your way to working off that morning's venti pumpkin spice latte. Don't forget to pop a piece of sugar-free gum (or ask an especially chatty friend to tag along) to ensure that your mouth is too busy to sample your kids' earnings.

What are some of your tricks for enjoying Halloween without blowing your healthy eating habits?

Image via Amazon.com

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