Halloween. Are you dreading it already? This uniquely American holiday kicks off a months-long inundation of parties, junk food, and diet and health-wrecking habits that begin at the end of October and run sometimes into April with Easter. Candy appears endlessly in offices, along with a parade of candy bars, cupcakes, pies and other decadent treats hard to pass up. Parties and dinners crop up constantly with their rich meals and booze, let alone their desserts.
How can a health conscious person survive this gauntlet?
Let’s start with Halloween and apply the same techniques to later holidays hoping to bust our diet, our waistline, and our health.
#1 – Give Yourself Permission for a Day
Life is full of celebrations and saying you’ll never eat another cookie or another bite of cake is more than most people can bear. Refraining from everything is usually self-defeating for all but the most iron-willed and saintly of us – or the most self-punishing.
For a day, grant yourself permission to have a piece of cake or a cookie or enjoy that Halloween treat – but only on Halloween. Refrain all other days. The special occasion is Halloween itself, not the next day when your colleagues spill into the shared office candy bucket all their leftover candy from Halloween. It’s also refraining from indulging during the lead up to Halloween.
While it’s not easy to hold back in the face of so many candies, parties and treats, tell yourself you’re only treating yourself on Halloween day itself. Junk food isn’t a daily treat unless you want to destroy your health. Save it for the special day it’s meant for.
#2 – Share the Love
My office was notorious for colleagues pawning off their excess candy and desserts onto everyone else. The candy and cakes went onto a communal table in the room and you couldn’t walk into or out of the room or go consult with another colleague without walking past that siren song of a table.
Take a hint from your colleagues and share the excess with others. Relocate the candy bucket into a communal kitchen where others will scavenge and where it is out of sight. Better, take it around to others in your room or other rooms and offer them the treats so that the bucket or tray is depleted quickly. Put it outside for passersby if you can get away with it. You’ll save yourself while also having others like you more for your perceived generosity.
While sharing the love, be sure to hand out your favorite treats. This way they disappear and won’t be around to tempt you later. I was often able to withstand the candy bucket because I’m not a fan of hard candies like Skittles. I was, however, weak to chocolate, so getting them out of the bucket quickly would save me every time since only candies I disliked remained. Do the same favor for yourself. Give away the treats you love so that they’re not calling to you all the time.
#3 – Costumes for Your Drinks
Halloween kicks off the party season and that means booze, soda and nothing but waistline and health-busting beverages. Bring your own drinks or disguise them to look like the beverages everyone else is drinking. I learned this trick early on when going to parties or happy hours. Not being a big drinker, I would drink 7-Up or Sprite (not great choices looking back) that everyone took for gin and tonic. That way I escaped peer pressure, getting drunk, and spending way too much money. You can use the same trick but don’t drink soda.
Instead, drink cranberry or orange juice or sparkling water with ice at parties and everyone will assume you’re drinking a cocktail. Juices, though, are close to drinking straight sugar so mix a little juice with sparkling water for a fruity, yummy drink. A little juice goes a long way on flavor.
Need more ideas to costume your drink?
If you like almond or soy milk, bring it or iced coffee. Tell people or let them think you’re drinking white Russians or mudslides. Iced tea in a tumbler mimics a number of drinks so enjoy a glass or two.
By costuming your drink, you’ll fit in, allow others to enjoy their evening guilt free, and be happy knowing you are not completely killing your diet and health. Your taste buds and stomach won’t be disappointed by this little trick so get creative.
#4 – Trick Out Your Treats
Don’t be the person who hands kids or colleagues an apple. Instead, bring healthy treats that taste decadent and don’t tell people they’re vegan or healthy. This way you’ll have healthy or healthier options to choose from on Halloween.
Need an example? I make a mean sugar-free no bake chocolate cookie using oats, chocolate, coconut milk and only a smidge of honey. I’m also a fan of my chocolate chip cookies made with almond flour, buckwheat and a smidge of honey rather than flour and sugar. That’s just for starters. Plenty of yummy, healthy and healthy-ish treats are out there, more than you’ll ever have time to try. Go on the hunt for the best treats to trick yourself and your colleagues.
#5 – Have a Handy Excuse
You could just tell people you’re on a diet or eating healthier these days. Most times this will elicit the “all things in moderation” or “live a little” response, if not a blatant eye roll. Be ready with your own comeback. It’s trick or treat season right? Trick them. Tell them you have a toothache or stomach ache or are allergic to sugar or some other ingredient like gluten. Tell them how eating it causes a severe headache or relentless joint pain in minutes. For true horror, go TMI and tell them you have a really painful urinary tract infection that those sugary confections will make worse. Have fun with it. They’ll leave you alone after that, especially if you tell them to have an extra cookie for you!
Halloween starts the parade of candies, treats, and culinary excess that paves the way to ill health through over-consumption of sugar, salt, bad fat and processed foods. It’s truly a gauntlet to survive Halloween, Thanksgiving, winter religious holidays of all types, New Year’s, Valentine’s, and Passover or Easter. Start learning techniques to stay true to your health. Remember to celebrate life, not indulge in destroying it through eating poorly. Your body, health and vitality will thank you in the long run.
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