Halloween kicks off the holiday season with temptation for sweet treats loaded with refined sugar and saturated fat.  Dietitian Nutritionist, Katie Schaeffer, offers some healthy lifestyle tips for celebrating autumn & enjoying fall flavors.

Tips for a Healthier Halloween

Many patients struggle to make healthy choices around this time of year and I think we all know why. Holidays, holidays, holidays. Halloween treats appear in September, followed by Thanksgiving and Christmas, then New Year’s and Valentine’s Day. This doesn’t even include football season which is essentially it’s own holiday in Western New York. For the next few months we are stalked by candy, cookies, sweets, party platters, chips, and alcohol. If you are struggling, you are not alone. Try to manage one holiday at a time and start to think about healthier ways to celebrate.


Let’s start with Halloween:

Candy alternatives:

Candy is synonymous with Halloween, but there are also plenty of fun ways to celebrate without the extra refined sugar and saturated fat. If you have trick-or-treaters in your area, consider a non-candy alternative (no, not pennies or tooth brushes- oh the horror!). What about spider rings or stickers? Temporary tattoos are a fan favorite with lots of kids and you probably won’t be tempted to eat them when you’re watching TV at night. If you are dead-set on providing candy, choose to hand out candy you don’t care for so you won’t be as tempted to indulge. Store the sweets out of sight (like an out of the way closet, drawer, or cupboard), so you aren’t reminded of it or enticed by it.


Make your own pumpkin treats:

Pumpkin is another festive and healthy choice for celebrating the Halloween season, but many pumpkin themed foods are high in added sugar and might not even contain real spices or pumpkin. Consider making your own fall favorites to reduce the sugar to get the health benefits of the pumpkin without sacrificing the festivities. Try making your own DIY pumpkin spice latte or season and roast your own pumpkin seeds.  Pumpkin and pumpkin spice blend are very versatile, so don’t be afraid to experiment with your own pumpkin themed creations (we make pumpkin spice roasted cauliflower that’s outstanding!).


Remember to enjoy all of the non-food activities available this time of year!

Head to a pumpkin patch, watch a spooky movie, go on a hayride, take a hike to see the colorful leaves. Enjoy time with your family and friends and put the focus of the holiday on activities other than food. At the grocery store, avoid the candy aisle and focus on seasonal produce and spices. The temptation for sweets lurk around every corner this time of year, so do your best and don’t be too hard on yourself.  Happy Halloween!


- Katie Schaeffer, MS, RDN, CDN, CDCES

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