9 Tricks To Make Halloween A Treat

by | Oct 22, 2012

Photo by pasukaru76

With extra candy, alcohol and fun everywhere, there is no point in pretending health will be your top priority by the time the weekend rolls around. But that’s a good thing.

Being healthy is important, but if you don’t learn to make room in your life for fun too then what’s the point?

My challenge to you is to use this Halloween weekend as an opportunity to practice rational indulgence. That is, enjoy things you have a reason to enjoy (i.e. foods you like) in quantities that leave you satisfied, but don’t abandon your health or get too obsessive about what you should or should not eat.

This is not the same as practicing “moderation” (an overused word, in my opinion). Instead I’m talking about a head change. Generally the term moderation is used to mean restraint for restraint’s sake. On Halloween this might involve consciously eating only half a cookie or counting out pieces of candy for your allowance.


Moderation is fine for daily life, especially when you are just learning to cook and eat healthy foods. But equally important is getting in tune with the real reasons you eat: taste, pleasure and enjoyment, and using this awareness to guide your behavior and create natural boundaries.

Embrace Halloween as a special occasion for you to live and enjoy, while understanding that this is not the first nor will it be the last time you get to eat a cupcake. There is no need to go out of your way to be “good” or “bad.” Just have fun and try not to think in terms of guilt or temptation. It is thoughts like these which lead to too many drinks and eating that entire bowl of peanut butter cups on your friend’s coffee table.

But, of course, for rational indulgence to mean anything it requires a context of healthy eating. If your typical daily food intake isn’t already mostly healthy, then Halloween isn’t really an indulgence so much as an excuse. But that doesn’t mean this advice isn’t applicable to you. No matter what your baseline, it is easier to indulge rationally if you are well-nourished and in the right state of mind.

Strive for the general goal of eating healthy, nourishing and satisfying foods and feel free to add a few Halloween treats along the way.

Here are 9 strategies to help make rational indulgence a little easier.

9 Tricks To Make Halloween A Treat

  1. Leave your guilt at the door. Halloween will probably not be ideal for your health, but if you are going to indulge you may as well enjoy it.
  2. Eat what you want, but not any more than that. Remember that indulgence is not a race. You don’t need to eat everything in sight just because you allow yourself a couple days off. Stop occasionally and ask yourself if you are eating for pleasure or from compulsion.
  3. Do not skip meals. Halloween usually involves late night parties and candy, things that should not interfere too much with your regularly scheduled food program. Trying to eat light during the day to compensate for eating junk food later will probably just cause you to eat even more junk when you find yourself starving at 2am—not a wise strategy.
  4. Have a healthy, satisfying dinner. You would be surprised how easy it is to skip the third mini-Snickers if you are not hungry or are even a little full. Better to be full of stir fry than trans fat and sugar.
  5. Eat protein, vegetables and healthy fats before you go out. The main danger on Halloween is sugar. Too much sugar causes blood sugar to rise and insulin to skyrocket. Ultimately this leads to insulin resistance, weight gain and more hunger. To avoid this, slow down the digestion process by eating healthy foods first.
  6. Easy on the carbs. You will probably be getting more than your fair share of sugars and starches this weekend. Minimize extraneous carbohydrates in your meals by skipping bread and pasta. Limit carbohydrates to vegetables, fruit and legumes.
  7. Keep moving. One easy way to make up ground if you are eating extra calories is to burn them off as you go. If you are out at a party, be sure to keep moving. Walk to your destination, play Halloween Twister and be the last to leave the dance floor.
  8. Brush up. Toothpaste can make candy taste pretty bad, so be sure to brush and rinse with fluoride before you leave your house and as soon as you get home. Sugar is also really bad for your teeth.
  9. Be safe. No matter what you do or do not eat, it is always important to make good decisions when you go out on the town. Be smart and make it home in one piece or none of this advice will do you any good.

How do you practice rational indulgence?

Originally published October 28, 2009.

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12 Responses to “9 Tricks To Make Halloween A Treat”

  1. I *love* the term “rational indulgence” – I just posted on a similar topic today, but used “moderation” – RI is more apt. Great tips on how to do this, and here’s to enjoying some treats, and to getting back on track with healthful habits the next day!

  2. Lizzie says:

    these are awesome tips Darya! bravo!

  3. Lizzie says:

    D-bone: What are you giving out to Trick-or-Treaters?

    • Darya Pino says:

      LOL, kids aren’t invited here 😉 Just kidding.

      If I were to be handing out treats, maybe those little Ghirardelli chocolate squares? I dunno, haven’t thought about it much.

      Suggestions anyone?

  4. Lizzie says:

    When I was little, my next door neighbor was a dentist and would hand out apples and toothbrushes…all the kids hated that house.

  5. Darya, I just wanted to let you know that I kept all your tips in mind when I went to a Halloween party last weekend. I had a great time, didn’t feel deprived, and still managed to lose half a pound that week!

    Halloween conquered, Thanksgiving and the Yuletide season to go… 😉

  6. Stacy says:

    I Loooooove Halloween, but I do also try to be healthy. I know it may not be a widely known thing, but mouth pain is the number one chronic childhood illness due to poor dental care and it can completely be avoided! You may have been lucky enough to have parents that promoted dental care, but many do not and are unaware of the damage and pain tooth decay can cause. I don’t mean to sound like a commercial­, but I am a supporter of groups like America’s toothfairy­: [link removed] that try and get people educated. Look it up, it is actually a serious problem. I hope more people join me and educate kids this year!

  7. Romy B. says:

    I don’t really associate adults’ Halloween parties with sugary junk food, unless kids are also present to tempt us with their bags of booty. Most of the good/bad decisions I’ve confronted at these seasonal bashes are much more volatile than sucrose.

  8. Kari says:

    One kind of overindulgence I have curtailed in advance by the alcohol I am bringing to a party being expensive and unusual. I will not get smashed on it, I will savor it, and will share with good friends of like mindset.

    The most health conscious person I know is giving little toys to the trick or treaters. I considered making homemade treats but I know no parent is going to let their kids eat anything that came out of a stranger’s kitchen, especially not mine. (I’m the neighborhood oddball.) So, I’m giving out saltwater taffy. It will at least stand out from the hundreds of mini chocolate bars, and when I inevitably have tons of leftovers, it’s something I enjoy in single pieces, myself. It’s pure sugar, but its caloric hit is pretty small.

  9. Dee says:

    -I try to prioritize alcohol over food/ junk
    -Drink lots of water during the event … Especially when tempted
    -move away and turn back from the food / snack tables. Don’t necessarily accept food when offered by waiter
    -Keep mouth busy by talking
    -burn calories by dancing (if the gathering has that)
    -Never initiate eating or drinking even if hungry – Wait until other persons i’m hanging out with suggest social eating let them lead the eating, and use own calorie judgement
    – if you have a goody bag/ container take stuff home for the kids, dogs, or a to have a next day….(risky since you may eat it all after the party)
    -Have that one delicious cupcake!
    -easier said than done

    I always have leftover m&m’s … Candy whatever … Rubbish… After the neighborhood kids grab their share… To my detriment… Ths year r the trick o treating, I plan pumpkin / carrot Halloween themed cupcakes…

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