With Halloween quickly approaching, the advertisements for candies and sweets have consumed our televisions, computers and social media. For those of us who are watching our weight or trying to live a healthy lifestyle, holidays like Halloween can produce intense food anxiety. By food anxiety, I mean anxiousness, nervousness or irritation caused by thinking about or seeing certain food items.
The foods that cause anxiety are typically high calorie, high carb and high fat foods that many dieters put on their “bad” list. When these food items, like candy, appear on every television station or pop up before every YouTube video you watch, it becomes increasingly more difficult to stay committed to your clean eating goals.
Halloween should be an exciting night filled with fun, friends and costumes, not anxiety of the sweet treats you may face.
In order to avoid food anxiety, it is important to allow yourself to have treats on special occasions. Yes, “allow yourself to have treats.”
When you always deny yourself the foods that you love, you develop a negative connotation for that food. You put that certain on your “bad” list and this creates food anxiety and may develop into dangerous eating disorders.
If you still feel uncomfortable with indulging in the Hors d’oeuvres at the next Halloween party, you can create your own alternative appetizers at home. No matter what your favorite Halloween candy is, you can make a healthier version of it in your own kitchen.
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
We all love these peanut butter filled milk chocolate cups. The iconic neon orange and black wrapper can be easily spotted in treat bags and spread across snack tables at parties. However, at 90 calories, 10 carbs and 8 grams of sugar for one piece, this is one of the unhealthiest Halloween treats.
It is okay to have one or two of these on this special night, but if you’re like me, and will want to eat a whole bag, then an alternative is your best choice. Quest, the makers of the well-known protein bars, also make peanut butter cups. One of these large cups may contain 120 calories, but more importantly it contains 10 grams of protein with only 1 gram of sugar.
This popular fair food will also make an appearance during Halloween. Carmel apples are almost as bad for your nutrition as they are for your teeth. A medium Carmel apple rolled in peanuts in around 350 calories. While the apple adds fiber and vitamins and the peanuts add healthy fats, the amount of Carmel is what added unwanted carbs and sugar.
As an alternative, cut a large apple into slices. Fill a saucer with 2 tablespoons of Smucker’s Fat Free Caramel Sundae Syrup, which only has 100 calories, and sprinkle crushed almonds on top. Dip the apple slices in the caramel and nut combination. It tastes exactly like any caramel apple you have tasted.
Popcorn seems to be a favorite party favorite for children and adults. It is easy to make and easy to eat, yet the fat and sodium content in a large bowl of popcorn can be disastrous to any dieter’s progress. A bag of Orville Redenbacher Ultimate Butter Popcorn contains 11 grams of fat and a whopping 440 milligram of sodium. This is not a healthy serving for anybody.
The simplest alternative to buttered down popcorn is to pop your own kernels in an air popper. Do not have access to an air popper? Buy Tender White popcorn. This is popcorn with without any added butter or salt. Now you control the amount of toppings and salt that goes on your snack.
Around Halloween, it is typical to see cupcakes decorated with thick swirls of rich icing, chocolate candies and sprinkles. Believe me, these are hard to resist. It is okay to have a cupcake to celebrate. Even better, having two mini cupcakes can make it feel like you are having more.
However, you want to have a healthier cupcake then there are easy alternatives that you can follow. Use canola oil instead of butter for less fat and calories. Use whipped icing instead regular icing for less sugar. Instead of topping with candy, top with sliced fruit or preserves.
Fruit Roll Ups
Finding a fruit roll up in your trick-or-treat bag as child was one of the most exciting memories. Parents did not like these candies, not only because they made the dentist bill rise, but also because they have virtually no nutritional value. With over 100 calories, 23 carbs and 11 grams of sugar in one roll, these roll ups had no protein and only contained vitamin C.
A way more nutritious alternative is making your own. It is a surprisingly simple recipe. Puree a handful of strawberries, a mango and a tablespoon of honey in a food processor. Pour the mixture on a cookie sheet that is covered in wax paper. Spread the mixture thin and evenly. Set your oven to 200 degrees and bake for four to five hours. Remove from the oven, let cool, and you have you very own healthy version of a childhood treat.
Although you may be concerned with what party you are going to attend or the costume you are going to wear, you do not have to worry about the treats you will eat on Halloween night. Remember having any sort of candy, cake or salty snack is always okay in moderation.