With Halloween kicking off the start of a very sugar-filled holiday season, it can be challenging to stay healthy this time of year. Most traditional treats contain spooky amounts of sugars, artificial sweeteners, coloring and harmful ingredients that contribute to weight gain, inflammation, weakened immunity and a host of other health problems.
Rather than waiting until the new year to do damage control, learn how to savor this season without packing on the pounds, getting sick or compromising your health.
5 Healthy Halloween & Holiday Tips
These tips are helpful for Halloween, other holidays and year round! Each tip focuses on reducing sugar intake, supporting blood sugar levels, and adding nutrients like antioxidants and omega-3s.
1. Read Labels
Finding healthier treats can be tricky. The first step is to read food labels, starting with the ingredients listed. Choose whole food ingredients over refined, such as a date over brown rice syrup. The fewer ingredients, the better. Avoid ingredients that look like a chemistry experiment.
Next, focus on sugar. Processed products contain over 40 types of refined sugars and artificial sweeteners! Many hidden sugars end in “-ose” such as lactose or dextrose. Choose less processed forms of sugar, such as fruit over fructose. Aim for less than 10, preferably less than 4, grams of sugar per serving.
2. Sweeten Smarter
Whether buying a product or making homemade treats, it’s important to choose better sweeteners to reduce your sugar intake, lower the glycemic load of your sweets and even add nutrients.
- Cinnamon, a naturally sweet spice, is excellent for stabilizing blood sugar levels.
- Stevia, a naturally sweet herb contains zero sugar and has zero effect on blood sugar levels.
- Fruit (fresh/dried) is rich in antioxidants, fiber, and vitamins. Swap brown sugar for dried dates.
- Honey (preferably raw, local) is rich in antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, and enzymes.
- Maple syrup (grade B) contains antioxidants, manganese, zinc, iron, and calcium.
3. Add Antioxidants
Increase your nutrient intake by adding antioxidant-rich foods.
- Cacao is packed full of antioxidant-rich polyphenols and flavonoids.
- Berries are loaded with polyphenols that support fat loss and fiber that helps prevent insulin spikes.
- Cherries are relatively low in sugar and high in antioxidants, potassium, quercetin, and melatonin.
- Pecans pack in healthy fats and are among the top 15 foods rich in antioxidants.
- Pumpkin is rich in beta-carotene, vitamin C, antioxidants, fiber, and potassium.
4. Befriend Fats
Natural fats help stabilize blood sugar levels and provide high satiation to prevent you from overeating and keep you full long after you eat. Add a serving of healthy fats to keep your indulgences in check.
- Coconut fats (coconut oil, butter, flakes, milk, cream), support metabolism, immunity and blood sugar.
- Walnuts contain omega-3s and antioxidants that decrease inflammation, insulin levels, and cravings.
- Chia seeds are filled with fiber, antioxidants, and omega-3s.
- Pumpkin seeds are full of healthy fats and the powerful antioxidant zinc.
- Almond butter is rich in healthy fats and the antioxidant vitamin E.
5. Plan to Cheat
There are a few tricks to keep you on track so you can fully enjoy your indulgences without feeling guilty or deprived. First, plan two cheat meals a week. If planning is a challenge, then try a 3 bite rule in which you take 3 bites and back off. Make it your goal to eat slowly and savor each bite.
Lastly, don’t set yourself up for failure by keeping junk food in the house. Keep any temptations out of sight, so they’re out of your mind. That includes the candy bowl at work and your kid’s trick or treating stash.
Incorporate the recommendations above by enjoying the healthier treats below.
Top 10 Products
Just say, “BOO” to excess amounts of sugar!
- candy bars: LaraBar, WB Kitchen, Primal Kitchen (Chocolate Almond & Coconut Cashew)
- chia treats: Mamma Chia squeeze packs and The Chia Co chia pods
- chocolate bars: Alter Eco (Blackout & Salted Brown Butter) & Eating Evolved
- cookies & truffles: Go Raw & Good Bites
- dried fruit: Nature’s All Foods
- macaroons: Wonderfully Raw Organic Coco-Roons
- nut butter: Artisana, NuttZo
- pumpkin puree: Farmer’s Market Foods, organic
- pumpkin seeds: Go Raw organic raw sprouted
- soda alternative: Zevia
Easy DIY Treats
Trick your taste buds with these ten hauntingly healthy treats that are fun to make and eat!
- all things pumpkin: pumpkin pudding, pumpkin pie, pumpkin pecan bars, pumpkin spiced latte, pumpkin cranberry muffins, pumpkin pie pucks, gluten-free pumpkin bread, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin spice cookies, maple pumpkin custard, pumpkin souffle, pumpkin ice cream
- chocolate lovers: cacao cashew cookies, brownies, chocolate covered berries, chocolate chip cookies, dark chocolate mousse, chocolate caramel slice, chocolate tart, chocolate bark, cacao butter bark
- date delights: dates rolled in coconut or nuts, cacao cookies
- go nuts (& seeds): sweet & spicy pepitas, roasted nuts, almond butter, cherry almond balls, nut candy
- seasonal sensations: Banana Mummies, Magic Cookie Bars, Sweet Potato Bugs, Soul Cakes, Oranges and Date Whipped Cream, Spooky Spiderweb Eggs, Witch Fingers, Apple Jack-O-Lanterns, Apple Mummies, Apple Bites, Candy Corn Gummies, Pumpkin Bars, Chocolate-Dipped Apples, Tangerine Pumpkins and Banana Ghosts, Shrunken Heads in Cider