Will you be filling children’s bags with apples this Halloween? Before you hand out those packs of sugar-free gum because you’re afraid that having treats in your house is an open invitation to a personal snack attack, heed this: You don’t have to be afraid that Halloween will derail your healthy diet! Follow these five tips so you can enjoy the season (almost as much) as if you were a kid again.
1. Keep the sweets in a dark container, out of reach.
Out of sight out of mind? Kind of! In a Cornell study, female faculty and staff ate twice as many Hershey Kisses if they were in a clear container on the desk, as opposed to a opaque container. Women ate even less when that dark container was six feet away.
When the women had to walk to get the chocolates, they thought they ate more than they really did, but when the candies were nearby they thought they ate way less! Just having to put in the extra effort for the chocolates makes you more mindful than when you’re popping them from the personal stash in a bowl on top of your desk.
2. Roast pumpkin seeds from your freshly carved pumpkin.
Kick off the season with a snack you can make spicy, salty, sweet or savory.
After you rinse stringy pumpkin goo from the seeds, drizzle olive oil on a roasting pan and spread seeds on top. Top with your favorite spices, like salt, cinnamon, ginger and cayenne pepper. Bake at 325°F for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
Bonus: Pumpkin seeds are chock-full of beauty nutrients (magnesium, iron, copper and zinc to name a few). For some extra mindful snacking, crack the seed and eat the inside, rather than having it whole.
3. Savor, don't stop completely.
If you want to have that piece of chocolate, go ahead.
"Trying to suppress thoughts about candy are actually counter productive. Dieters tend to eat more chocolate when they try to avoid it all together," says Susan Albers, Psy.D., author of But I Deserve This Chocolate: the 50 Most Common Diet Derailing Excuses and How to Outwit Them.
Opt for an ounce of 70 percent dark chocolate or higher – the darker, the better. The flavonoids in dark chocolate have been linked to a better complexion, and a brand new study found that women who consumed an about 2.3 ounces of chocolate per week had a significantly lower stroke risk than those who consumed little or no chocolate.
4. Got gum?
"Chew gum before taking out the candy dish," Dr. Albers recommends. "According to a study in the journal Appetite, chewing gum for at least 45 minutes can reduce your appetite, make you feel less hungry for snacks and increase fullness," she says. Specifically, the study showed that chewing gum curbed cravings for sweet and salty snacks.
If you want to cut back on your artificial sweeteners, try gum with the sugar alcohol "xylitol."
5. Last but not least: Eat your favorite candy last!
They call it "saving the best for last" for good reason. "People who had an enjoyable snack last tended to remember enjoying the snack more than those who ate an enjoyable snack first," Dr. Albers says of a recent study in Appetite.
Definitely don’t get the jumbo value pack of your favorite candy, but let yourself have a little. Filling up on fiber-packed foods first, will keep you from being ravenous for your favorite treat when you come around to enjoying it.
And if you think that having a bunch of different candies around the house that aren’t your fav will keep you from eating less, know that this strategy could backfire. "When you buy multiple types or a variety pack you are likely to eat more," Albers says.
Now, put away those tubes of toothpaste you had stocked up for Halloween night – you’re ready to trick your treats!