By Maris Callahan
Halloween may mark the beginning of a festive, holiday season but it also marks the beginning of the time of year when most people are prone to gaining weight. While recent reports have suggested that the average person gains 7 to 10 pounds between Thanksgiving and Christmas, there are ways that you can prevent holiday pounds from creeping up on you, beginning with Halloween.
Whether you have young trick-or-treaters or a habit of sampling from the candy bowl in between doorbell rings, it’s not unusual to eat more sugar, fat and calories than average on October 31. To avoid piling on excess poundage this year, follow some of our favorite tips that will help you stay slim and trim through the New Year.
Don’t keep junk food in the house
If Halloween leaves you with an excessive amount of candy – and therefore, calories – every year, make smart decisions this time and buy less candy than you think you need. If you overestimate the volume of trick-or-treaters that will pass through your neighborhood, donate leftover candy to a local youth program or shelter for kids that might not have had any.
Don’t go “cold turkey” the day after a binge
Have you ever woken up the morning after overindulging on sweets and craved more sweets? “The body gets an inflated (but real) sense of energy, or even euphoria [when you overdose on sweets or carbohydrates],” said celebrity nutritionist Ashley Koff, R.D. “When that wears off, the body will cry out more loudly for carbs.” To avoid day-after temptation, don’t go cold turkey the morning after. Instead, focus on portion control, nutrient balance and eating frequent small, but nutritious meals to avoid hunger pangs.”
Keep up your fitness schedule
Once the holiday season is here, our schedules become hectic and sometimes our usual routines get pushed aside. Your daily gym session is not a routine you should abandon no matter how busy you are. “Remember that a holiday is only ONE day,” said Koff. “A lot of people turn it into days, a week, even a month! When we overindulge, we sometimes begin a downward spiral of being tired so we skip our workout and feel sluggish, so we don’t eat right. You shouldn’t take a day off your diet and exercise routine together – spread them out to keep energy levels up.”
You’re not going to gain weight from indulging on one day, so set limits for yourself. Maybe you’re planning to count Thanksgiving as a “cheat day” – so hit the gym extra hard earlier in the week or plan on salads and egg whites on Black Friday. Another way to set limits is to curb the social drinking. Alcoholic drinks can be packed with hidden calories so reduce them by exercising a two-drink maximum.
Make a Meal Plan
Halloween falls on a Sunday this year, so before you unwrap your first piece of chocolate, Jackie Keller, nutritionist, wellness coach and founder of NutriFit, suggests making a meal plan for your week so you’ll have no excuse not to get back on track tomorrow. “It’s an exercise well worth trying, as 30 minutes of preplanning can save hours of time and money,” said Keller. “Keep it simple: five to six great dinners that can repurpose as lunches the next day and a nutritious breakfast to anchor your hunger and your healthy efforts for the day.”