Tricks to avoid weight gain from Halloween treats

Don’t get tricked by Halloween treats – learn more about how to avoid holiday weight gain.

Most people think of the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s as the time for holiday weight gain. However, weight gain can actually start creeping in by Halloween. By September most stores start filling the aisles with Halloween candy, only to replace it with more candy and treats to usher in the holiday season. The National Institutes of Health reports that the average weight gain during the holiday season is only about a pound or two, but since most people don’t lose the holiday weight over the following year those pounds accumulate over time and can lead to health problems like obesity, heart disease or Type II diabetes.

Here are some strategies for a healthier Halloween:

  • Give out something other than candy
    Some options include wax fangs, temporary tattoos, pencils, stickers, plastic spider rings, noise makers or crayons. You might be surprised that kids enjoy toys as much as or more than candy.
  • Don’t purchase candy until a day or two before Halloween
    Just because the stores sell it in September doesn’t mean you have to buy it. Having candy around a month or more before the holiday can break even the strongest of wills. Waiting to purchase candy until right before the big day will keep temptation out of the house, and since most candy goes on sale the week of or few days leading up to Halloween you will most likely save some money as well.
  • Have a plan for leftover candy
    Sometimes it’s not about the candy that’s around before Halloween, it’s about the candy that keeps lingering well into November and beyond. Think about donating leftover candy to a shelter, food pantry or faith-based organization.
  • Avoid “saving” your children from their candy
    Many parents and caregivers feel the need to eat their children’s candy in an effort to keep the children from eating it. This may be helpful to the children, but not to you and your health. Have a conversation with children prior to Halloween about what is an appropriate amount of candy to have each day and how long to keep candy around. Setting guidelines with children ahead of time helps them feel like they are a part of the decision. Then stick to the plan.

By avoiding the small weight gain over the holidays it may be possible to avoid overweight and obesity in the long-term, as well as the health risks associated with obesity. Having a plan in place to handle Halloween candy is one step to starting the holiday season on a healthy note. Looking for more strategies for healthy eating? Contact a Michigan State University Extension expert in your area.

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