Halloween can be a tricky time when you're watching what you eat; after all, the entire holiday revolves around eating candy! Fortunately, the smarty-pants here at Bodybuilding.com have developed some clever tips and recipes to keep trick-or-treating from ruining your physique.
From spooky high-protein treats to a rundown of the lowest-calorie candies, we've got you covered.
1. Make Smart(ish) Candy Choices
If you have a sweet tooth, making it through Halloween without a single treat is probably an unrealistic expectation. That's fine! Embrace the holiday for what it is…to a point. But know that not all sweets are created equal.
When you're in the store or rummaging through your kids' bag, look for Halloween candy that's lower in calories and fat than its compatriots to minimize the damage.
Here are a few suggestions that Shannon Clark offers up in her article "Best Halloween Treat Choices":
- Peanut butter cups or pieces over candy bars
- Gummy bears over other gummy candies
- Tootsie rolls over tootsie pops and suckers
- Licorice over candy corn or caramels
Of course, even a "good" choice becomes a shady one when you start pumping fistfuls of candy into your mouth. A bite-sized chocolate bar might seem healthier than its full-sized equivalent, but remember, those minis add up fast.
2. Think Portions, Not Magic Potions
Plenty of nutrition "information" is more fiction than fact, and knowing the difference will help you make smart decisions. For instance, some people will eat chocolate-covered raisins rather than just chocolate or chocolate-covered nuts. Healthier? Ha!
Another common misconception that gets perpetuated on the web is the idea that dark chocolate is "healthy." Yes, compared to milk chocolate, it's usually slightly higher in flavonoids, which are thought to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, but it's still full of fat, calories, and sugar.
I'm not saying not to eat it, but focus on portion control rather than seeking a magical food that you can eat endlessly. Eat a few squares of whichever kind of chocolate you like best, but don't delude yourself into thinking you're doing your body a favor by chowing down on an entire bag of, well, anything.
3. Fill Your Kitchen With Healthy Homemade Halloween Treats
Instead of stocking up on the same store-bought junk you always eat, prepare your own seasonal treats this year! Homemade goodies taste better, you can control the nutrition, and the ingredients often end up costing less than the premade stuff. (Have you priced those big bags of mixed candy bars lately?)
Savory finger foods, such as cheesy pumpkins and carrot eyes, are sure to win over your party guests. Pack some extra protein into your baked goods with monster balls and ghost brownies. Or make Anna Sward's dark chocolate protein spiders and take sick satisfaction in biting their little heads off.
4. Keep Motivated, Keep Under Control, and Keep Training Hard
When all else fails, remind yourself why you're watching what you eat and working hard in the gym! Surround yourself with constant inspiration, such as our We 'Mirin "Halloween Hotties" edition or a physique transformation story.
Eating right isn't just about looking good, though, and it's not just for adults. Too much sugar can lead to serious health conditions, and if you're a parent, the best thing you can do for your kids is teach (and show!) that fun is the real attraction of the holiday, not pure gluttony. Make Halloween more about costumes, celebration, and pumpkins than candy. Teach portion control, but then show it with your own behavior as well.
Even if you don't have kids of your own, provide healthy choices for the neighborhood trick-or-treaters who knock on your door. Hand out Halloween pencils, stickers, little bags of popcorn, or sugar-free gum. Just don't be too obvious—handing out toothbrushes and dental floss will likely get your house egged!