The days where you’d fill a pillowcase or plastic pumpkin chock-full of candy are long gone. But even as a grown-up, it doesn’t truly feel like Halloween until you’ve enjoyed at least a few treats. So how can you indulge your sweet tooth without going overboard?
We decided to ask the pros (i.e. nutrition experts). Here’s what they splurge on, the candies they (try to) avoid, and their tricks for keeping treats from turning into full-on sugarfests.
I buy my candy on Halloween (or the day before).
Resist the urge to buy a bag of Skittles a month before the big night. There’s no logical reason to buy candy days (or weeks) before the trick-or-treaters arrive. By only having the goodies around for 24 hours or so, you can save yourself a lot of temptation and waiting that long usually means the candy is deeply discounted!
—Ashvini Mashru, M.A., R.D., L.D.N., author of Small Steps to Slim and owner of Wellness Nutrition Concepts, LLC
I choose the nut-filled chocolate stuff.
Chocolate candies with nuts feel more substantial than confections such as gummy bears or licorice. With carb-based candies that are nothing but straight sugar, there’s no fat or protein to slow digestion, so they cause your blood sugar to spike. When your blood sugar drops back into the normal range, you’re likely to feel tired and sluggish and feel like you need more sugar to make that feeling go away.
—Deborah Malkoff-Cohen, M.S., R.D., C.D.N., C.D.E.
I eat dinner first.
As a registered dietitian and mindful eating enthusiast, I believe in allowing yourself to savor and enjoy your favorite indulgences. But it’s a good idea to have a healthy dinner before reaching for the trick-or-treat basket. If you’re not starving when you reach for a piece of candy, you’re less likely to overindulge. After dinner, I’ll choose a piece of my top two favorite candies and eat them slowly. That gives me a chance to savor each bite.
—Kara Lydon, R.D., L.D.N., R.Y.T., author of Nourish Your Namaste and The Foodie Dietitian Blog
I stick everyone’s candy in the freezer.
I have children who bring home lots of treats, so there is an excessive amount of candy in my house around the end of October. I don’t believe in completely depriving yourself or your kids/family, so I limit myself to a few fun-sized candy bars per week that I set aside. I stick the rest in the freezer. We take out our weekly portion and eat it whenever we feel like it, and do this until the candy is gone. And if the kids want to share with their friends, they can!
—Kim Melton, R.D. and owner of Nutrition Pro Consulting
I go for the minis.
The good news about Halloween candy is that you can get minis of pretty much anything: mini bags of M&Ms, mini Snickers, etc. I personally love Snickers and peanut M&Ms, and definitely allow myself to enjoy a few of those over the course of the Halloween season. When I was a kid, I loved candy corn, but now it makes my teeth hurt just looking at it.
—Frances Largeman-Roth, R.D.N., author of Eating in Color and Feed the Belly
I make my own candy.
After giving up sugar a few years ago, I no longer go as candy crazy as I once did (I used to be a major Skittles and Starburst fiend). If I am going to indulge in a treat or piece of candy these days, I go for something that’s high quality and satisfying. Sometimes, I love making my own healthy homemade treats.
—Katie Shields, M.S., R.D.N., holistic dietitian and nutrition coach
I have a candy-ish snack.
I’ll have a couple of fun-sized pieces of my favorite candies, such as Twizzlers or Peppermint Patties. But my other strategy is choosing a treat that can double as a healthy snack. I’m loving the KIND Caramel Almond Pumpkin Spice bar, which is a mix of nuts and spices, and offers satiating healthy fats, fiber, and protein. It’s something I can have for snack time, yet feel satiated by since it’s a yummy, seasonal treat.
—Amy Gorin, M.S., R.D.N., owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition