Most people think of the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s as the time for holiday weight gain. However, weight gain can actually start creeping in by Halloween. By September most stores start filling the aisles with Halloween candy, only to replace it with more candy and treats to usher in the holiday season. The National Institutes of Health reports that the average weight gain during the holiday season is only about a pound or two, but since most people don’t lose the holiday weight over the following year those pounds accumulate over time and can lead to health problems like obesity, heart disease or Type II diabetes.

This year Halloween may be pretty different from normal, but we’re betting it’s still going to look similar in terms of what people eat.

Here are some strategies for a healthier Halloween:

1. Give out something other than candy
Some options include wax fangs, temporary tattoos, pencils, stickers, plastic spider rings, noise makers or crayons. You might be surprised that kids enjoy toys as much as or more than candy.

2. Don’t purchase candy until a day or two before Halloween
Just because the stores sell it in September doesn’t mean you have to buy it. Having candy around a month or more before the holiday can break even the strongest of wills. Waiting to purchase candy until right before the big day will keep temptation out of the house, and since most candy goes on sale the week of or few days leading up to Halloween you will most likely save some money as well.

3. Have a plan for leftover candy
Sometimes it’s not about the candy that’s around before Halloween, it’s about the candy that keeps lingering well into November and beyond. Think about donating leftover candy to a shelter, food pantry or faith-based organization.
Avoid “saving” your children from their candy

4. Buy candy you don’t love. If the candy in your pantry is stuff kids like but that you don’t enjoy, it will be easier to resist opening those bags and diving in.

5. Savor one piece of your favorite candy a day. Decide what time of day you most relish the sweet stuff, and save your special treat for that time. Then sit back and slowly savor the taste sensation. I do this all year round. I buy one Hershey’s almond bar and break one piece off of it. Sometimes once a day. and sometimes just a couple days of the week. IT WORKS! I promise you 🙂

6. Chew gum. Sugarless gum gives your mouth a burst of sweet sensation for very few calories.

7. Take a walking break. Getting away from your desk for a breath of fresh air can invigorate you and help you get over the mid-morning or mid-afternoon slumps that are often mistaken for hunger.

8. Manage your hunger. Eat breakfast before coming to work and plan for a few healthy snacks along with a satisfying lunch. Your preplanned meals with keep you feeling satisfied and make you less likely to raid the candy bowl.

9. Count the empty wrappers. It’s so easy to pop fun-size candy bars into your mouth that you can lose track of how quickly the calories are adding up. “If you keep the wrappers on your desk, it will remind you of how many you ate and hopefully inspire you to exercise moderation and stop after one or two.

10. After counting those calories vow to work them off by the end of the day. 1 mini snickers bar has 80 calories. Just keep in mind, 1 mile of brisk walking burns about 80 calories. ONE MILE PEOPLE! Think about how many miles you’d have to do if you ate just 3 of those!