October is a month full of fun. Autumn leaves provide a burst of color, some areas enjoy their first snowfall, and the kids have (hopefully) settled into their routine after a hectic back-to-school month.
Then of course there’s Halloween. It’s one of the favorite days of the year for many children and adults alike. The selection of a costume, the anticipation of a fun-filled night with friends, dressing up and of course the bowl of goodies at the end of the night.
But Halloween can also bring some hazards, including risks to our health. Here’s how to have a healthy Halloween.
Buy Candy On or About October 31
If you’re like me, the best part of Halloween is buying boxes of those little chocolate bars starting about Oct. 1, then raiding those boxes starting about Oct. 2.
By eating them all month long, I end up having to buy more by the 31st anyway. To resist the temptation, don’t bring them into the house until the 31st. If you do purchase early, set aside a portion you’re allowed per day or week, and stick to it. Eating Halloween candy for a month will not help your health or your waistline.
Choose Healthier Treats
You don’t have to be the house that hands out toothbrushes, but you can choose some fun goodies besides sugar-filled candies. Having those healthy options for the kids who come to the door means you’ll be snacking healthier too.
The American Heart Association provides these suggestions for giveaways that kids will still love and that you can indulge in when there are leftovers:1
- Oranges decorated like Jack-O-Lanterns (with non-toxic ink)
- 100% juice boxes or pouches
- Snack-sized packages of pretzels or popcorn
- 100% real fruit strips, ropes or leathers
- Squeezable yogurt tubes or pouches
- Single-serving containers of mandarin oranges
- Sugar-free gum
Another option is toys. Many kids will love getting a glow stick, bracelet or flashing ring as a unique treat.2 In fact, a Yale University study discovered that children were just as likely to choose toys as candy, proving that children will not be disappointed by toy treats on Halloween.3 Creating holiday traditions that do not rely on unhealthy foods also means you won’t be snacking on chocolate and candy all night (or all month).
Be Wary of Flu Season
The autumn months also mean the onset of cold and flu season. This is a good time to remind yourself to wash your hands frequently and stay home if you feel sick. Setting out hand sanitizer on Halloween night is a thoughtful gesture.
The Centers for Disease Control and Protection reminds us to get a flu vaccine. Everyone six months and older is eligible for a flu shot, which helps protect yourself and those around you.4
Get Sufficient Rest
Sleep is such an important factor to our health, so it’s important to get enough rest, even on Halloween night.
Sleep plays a vital role in good health and well-being. Over time, inadequate sleep can raise your risk for chronic health problems, impacting your heart and circulatory system, metabolism, respiratory system, immune system and more.5
It’s recommended that adults get 7-9 hours of sleep a night. However, women are more likely to report insomnia than men in every age group.6
If you’re having trouble sleeping, whether it’s on Halloween night or all year long, consider these tips:7
- Stick to a sleep schedule.
- Pay attention to what you eat and drink before bed.
- Create a restful environment with a cool, dark and quiet room.
- Include physical activity in your daily routine.
Be More Mindful
As the seasons change, the shorter days can lead to a condition known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This is a reaction to the reduction in the amount of daylight, and three‐quarters of those affected are women.8
Symptoms of SAD are described as lethargy, overeating, craving carbohydrates and sugar, and a depressed mood. Having a bowl full of candy nearby before, during and after Halloween will not help.
Practicing mindfulness, including mindful eating, can help. The term “mindfulness” was originally defined as “paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.”9
Mindful eating therefore is paying attention to our food, on purpose, moment by moment, without judgment. It means focusing on your sensual awareness of food and your experience of food.9 Stop, sit down and pay attention when you’re eating. If you do want to snack on candy, set out a small portion to enjoy and don’t eat more than the portion.
Studies have shown that mindfulness in eating is inversely related to binge eating behavior and mood disturbances.10
Look After Your Health
It’s important to care for your health at any time of year. If you’re feeling off, or you have a health issue that is concerning you, seek medical attention. Use our Physician Finder to find a doctor near you who can help.