Written By: Ashleigh Magee, IML’s Healthy Living Contributor
It’s the spookiest time of year, and for many, you may be wondering how you’re going to stay on-track with your health goals with all of the yummy temptation around. Even with COVID-19 restrictions changing how Halloween looks this year, pumpkin spice is still everywhere and the temptation to stress-eat an entire bag of M&Ms is higher than ever.
Entering the holiday season can be stressful, especially when you’re trying to lose weight. Most people feel like they have two choices:
- Eat all of the food you enjoy, feel bad about it, and reset January 1st. Or…
- Avoid all of the parties and “bad food” so you can stay on track, but feel miserable or like you’re missing out.
My friends, I’m here to tell you there’s a third option. You can enjoy the holidays AND stay on track!
As a health coach that admittedly has a sweet tooth, I know how to balance healthy living with the holidays. In fact, I like to say my superpower is finding healthier ways to indulge. Today I’m sharing those powers with you and teaching you 3 simple ways to have a healthy and enjoyable Halloween.
1. Gather Recipes that Serve You
Healthy eating often feels like an “either/or” choice. You either get to eat food that is delicious or you eat food that is healthy. That is a total myth and truly, you just need to know where to look. A great way to enjoy the tastes of the season is to find healthier alternatives that still taste delicious, but aren’t packed with tons of added sugars and preservatives. Pinterest and blogs are a great source of information, and I’ve also included a couple of my favorite go-to’s below.
Pumpkin Spice Chai Tea
- Pumpkin Spice Chai Tea (I like this one from Tazo)
- Almond/Coconut Milk
- Pumpkin Pie Spice
- Non-sugar sweetener of choice (my favorite is Monkfruit)
Directions (can make hot or iced):
- Brew tea for 2-4 minutes
- Add 1-2 Tbsp non-dairy milk
- Add sweetener to taste
- Dash of pumpkin pie spice
- If making iced, only fill mug halfway with tea, fill remainder with ice
- For a low-carb/high-fat option, use coconut cream in place of non-dairy milk
Pumpkin Pie Protein Shake
- 1 cup non-dairy milk
- ¼ cup canned pumpkin puree
- 10 ice cubes
- 1 tablespoon almond butter
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 2 scoops vanilla protein powder or vanilla collagen peptides
- 1 tablespoon pecans, chopped (optional)
- Vanilla stevia to taste (optional)
- Throw all ingredients into blender and blend to desired consistency
- For a low-carb/high-fat option, add ½ cup coconut cream
- Sweetness will vary based on your protein powder, so add stevia or other desired to taste
2. Make Simple Swaps
Another way to enjoy the season while maintaining your eating habits is to incorporate sweet treats that have cleaner ingredients, less added sugar, and less processing. Seeking these swaps can help you feel like you can participate in festivities without guilt. A couple of my favorite companies are Smart Sweets (gummies) and UnReal (chocolate treats). If you’re more of a DIY-type, I’ve included my deconstructed peanut butter cup recipe below for a quick and easy treat!
Easy Deconstructed Peanut Butter Cup
- 2 Tbsp Natural Peanut Butter
- 1 Tbsp Dark Chocolate Chips or Sugar-free Chocolate Chips (using Stevia or Monk Fruit)
- Spash Non-Dairy Milk (optional for consistency)
- Mix PB and chocolate chips. If you would like a thinner consistency, you can add some non-dairy milk.
- Eat with a spoon and rejoice!
3. The 80/20 Rule
My last tip for you is to practice the 80/20 rule. What I mean by this is to eat foods that serve your body 80% of the time. You want these foods to be in alignment with your healthy eating goals, but I typically recommend trying to eat clean 80% of the time.
So what is clean eating? Definitions vary depending on who you talk to, but I define clean eating as eating organic, non-GMO foods free of preservatives, additives, pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, artificial flavors, and all other toxins. Anything that can’t be used as energy in the body is a toxin. Common allergenic/inflammatory/addictive foods you may want to limit are dairy, wheat/gluten, alcohol, soy, sugar, processed foods.
Now, let’s talk about that remaining 20%. These are your indulgences such as dessert or wine. By planning for about 20% of your eating to be indulgences or not strictly clean, you create healthy habits that are balanced and sustainable. This can also help heal your relationship with food because there’s no “cheat foods,” so you don’t have to feel guilty when you join a friend for Happy Hour or steal a couple of your kid’s candy bars.
The holidays don’t have to be stress-filled as you try to navigate what you’re “allowed” to eat or work to stay on track with your health goals. You can enjoy the tastes of the season without wreaking havoc on your body. You can have a healthier, happier Halloween by:
- Gathering Recipes that Serve You
- Making Simple Swaps
- Living by the 80/20 Rule
If you’d like more recipes and support, here’s a couple more resources for you:
- 30 Protein Shake Recipes to keep breakfast interesting and on track!
- Clean Eating Challenge to detox your body in just 7 days!
***Full disclosure, some of the links in this article are affiliate links.***