Halloween - a trick or a treat for your health?
Halloween is definitely a night where we like to indulge, but unfortunately, our excessive consumption of sweets, cakes and alcohol isn’t always limited exclusively to this one night. How many of you have overestimated the number of trick-or-treaters that may appear at your door and found yourself saddled with a family size bag of mini smarties or M&Ms?
In some cases, even if you have children, it’s unlikely all the chocolate and goodies get eaten straight away that night so the odds are you find yourself picking away at the leftovers for the next few weeks. This can present some problems, especially if you’re trying to stay healthy and avoid eating excess sugar.
So what can you do to get rid of temptation? Fortunately, I’ve came up with a number of tips to help you stay healthy this Halloween!
1 – Don’t buy chocolate in advance
It may seem like a sensible idea to buy all your Halloween treats in advance and avoid the swarm of shoppers on Halloween morning but that simply means that all those chocolaty goodies are lingering on your shelves for that little bit longer. The best way to avoid temptation is to remove it entirely so I’d wait until it’s a bit closer to the 31st before stocking up on your Halloween treats.
Another useful tip to consider is to buy sweets that you don’t really like. Of course, this doesn’t really work very well if you are buying for your own children, but if you are child-free, I’d try stocking up on chocolates you’re not really fussed about – that way you won’t be tempted to pick away at your trick-or-treaters’ goodies before they even arrive.
2 – Make good use of your pumpkin
Every year thousands of us buy pumpkins to carve and most of us end up ditching the flesh or it normally goes to waste. Not only are pumpkin seeds extremely nutritious, the actual flesh of the pumpkin is rich in vitamin A, an essential nutrient for healthy vision and skin, as well as dietary fibre, helping to support your heart.
Depending on the size of the pumpkin in question, you could easily get a few decent meals out of it so rather than binning the innards, you could put your pumpkin to good use. Below are a few of my favourite pumpkin recipes to help give you some inspiration.
Pumpkin & Potato Soup
Pumpkin Wraps with Cranberry Mousse
3 - Eat before you go out
If you do plan on going trick-or-treating or are attending a Halloween-themed party, I’d avoid leaving the house on an empty stomach. Instead, make sure you have a balanced dinner that’s packed full of fibre and protein to help ward off any hunger cravings that might tempt you to start snacking on sweets. As I covered in my article ‘8 healthy sources of protein’, oily fish, tofu, nuts and most pulses are packed full of protein and can help you feel fuller for longer!
Here are a couple of my favourite protein-packed meals:
Grilled Honey Lemon Sardines with Herbed Rice
Three Bean Curry
Thai Squash Lentil Soup
4 - Create your own healthy treats
It might be a bit difficult to ask you to cut out on those Halloween treats completely but there are plenty of options when it comes to healthier alternatives, especially if you have young children to try and cater for. While there’s nothing wrong with the occasional treat, packing unwanted sugar into their diets in the weeks preceding and leading up to Halloween definitely isn’t a good idea.
However, there are plenty of healthy goodies you can offer them instead such as this rich recipe for Salted Cacao and Almond Butter Fudge or homemade Peanut Butter Cups. Not only will this minimise you and your child’s exposure to unhealthy snacks and refined sugars, it’s also a great excuse to get cooking in the kitchen with your children! Here are a couple of my favourite healthy recipes:
Healthy Twix Bars
Healthy Oreo Cookies
Cherry & Nut Chocolate Brownies
5 - Take advantage of trick or treating
If you do plan on taking your children trick-or-treating, I would take advantage of the opportunity it affords you for a bit of light exercise. If the weather is dry, instead of ferrying your children around in a car take them on a walk around your neighbourhood in the fresh air.
Not only will this hopefully tire them out before bed, it also makes sure that they and you are getting some exercise.
6 - Drink plenty of fluids
Pumpkin spiced lattes might be more on trend at the moment but they’re unlikely to offer you much in the way of hydration. This is doubly important if you’re planning on going out on Halloween night as the chances are you’ll be ensnared by the promise of themed cocktails and shots, and forget all about keeping hydrated.
Not only will dehydration put a dampener on your festivities, it can also have an impact on how you feel the following day so, if you want to avoid any sluggishness or headaches, I would recommend keeping a bottle of water near you. I normally order water for the table and keep sipping on that throughout the night so I remember to keep my fluid levels up.