By Sarah McColl
All the walking you do while trick-or-treating with the kids totally burns off the M&Ms and Halloween Peeps you’re munching…right? Yeah, just keep hoofing it for about 22 more hours, and you’ll zero out those candy calories on Halloween.
On the spookiest night of the year, the average trick-or-treat bucket is filled with anywhere from 3,500 to 7,000 calories worth of candy, and kids consume about three cups of sugar. Adults aren’t much better—on average, we eat more than three pounds of candy over the Halloween season.
“For adults, sugar is our enemy number one when it comes to aging well and feeling and looking our best,” said Jolene Hart, a certified beauty and health coach and author of the forthcoming Eat Pretty Every Day. Addictive and extremely inflammatory to the system, sugar may be the star of Hallow’s Eve, but it’s a bit of a health menace. According to Hart, sugar accelerates wrinkles, in a process called advanced glycation end products, and can suppress the immune system at just the time of year we’re most concerned about catching colds.
What’s a Halloween-lover with a sweet tooth and a healthy conscience to do? Try these five steps to reduce your sugar consumption:
- Go Organic: Some store shelves are stocked with options for organic candies with no artificial coloring or added sugars. There’s still time to buy some of our favorite healthy Halloween candies.
- Choose the Best of the Worst: The best choices for a hardcore candy traditionalist? Experts say steer clear of Jolly Rancher and Milky Way—they’re loaded with a witch’s brew of sugar, corn syrup and hydrogenated palm kernel oil. Mini-size 3 Musketeers are among the best choices you can make for their wee portion size and airy filling. Long lasting hard candy lollipops like Dum-Dums are another way to get your spooky-sweet on with overdoing it.
- Be Mindful: From Hart’s perspective, it doesn’t much matter which indulgence we choose, just that we’re mindful about it. “Ask your body what it really wants,” she said. “Are you really craving that Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup or that handful of Peanut M&M’s? If you say yes on Halloween, pick those couple of things, and then really enjoy them.”
- Eat Well Before and After: “The important thing is what you do the day of and the day after,” Hart said. That means a sugar-spike-preventing meal with protein and healthy fats, before the costume party with caramel apple cocktails. The next morning, have a green smoothie or an anti-inflammatory tonic of ginger and lemon juice.
- Burn Off the Calories: Finally, while you don’t need to do 22 hours of P90X cross-training, up your exercise routine this week to rid yourself of as many of those extra calories as possible.
Treat yourself well so that Halloween feels like a fun holiday, not a horror show. Save that for Friday the 13th.