Walking through the drug store the other day it hit me. It’s only the beginning of October but the start of the holiday season is here. If you think I’m wrong, take a quick walk through CVS or BJs or Target and you’ll see it too. Right now the aisles are literally packed from top to bottom and beginning to end with Halloween candy. And, when that stuff is gone, there will be enough Christmas stuff to build a candy wall to the North Pole. This time of year can be really difficult for those of us who are trying eat clean, stay fit and live a healthy lifestyle. Because everywhere you turn you’re bombarded with marketing messages that would have you believe you’re not really enjoying the season if you’re not over indulging.
I’ve mentioned before that I don’t really believe in deprivation. I don’t think you can follow any diet where certain foods are completely off limits, because life happens and you absolutely should be able to enjoy treats once in a while. So, to take a little of the guilt off for those of you who might dip into the trick or treat bags I thought I’d put together some suggestions on ways to balance out and even burn off those extra seasonal calories.
- Don’t Dwell – This is tip #1. If you indulge a bit this season, don’t dwell on it. Don’t feel bad. You’re allowed to (and maybe even supposed to) enjoy a treat once in a while. I’m not saying you should throw caution to the wind and have Kit Kats for breakfast from now til the 31st, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with treating yourself. Feeling guilty and getting down on yourself for it could actually trigger you to eat even more. So, savor what you eat and move on.
- Up Your Steps – I think wearing a step tracker is a great idea if for no other reason than it makes you more aware of how active you are during the day. So, if you’re wearing one, great. If you don’t have one yet, get one. (You can get something like this Fitbit Flex for well under $100 that will track your steps and other cardio workouts and even alert you to incoming texts!) Figure out what your baseline activity level and number of steps is on an average day and then up that by 10% as a goal. If you increase your steps from 10,000 to 11,000 a day, depending on your body and metabolism, you could be burning anywhere from 400-600 calories a day – just by walking.
- Get Outside – See how beautiful it is outside right now? The air is crisp but the sun is still warming. The foliage is putting on a dazzling show. Well, I hate to be a downer, but fast forward about 8 weeks and it will be cold. The trees will be bare and the sun will be fighting to shine through the chilly air. So, get out there and be active outdoors now! It’s perfect weather for running, walking, biking and hiking. And, an outdoor workout can deliver some things you just can’t get inside a gym. (Did I just say that?) For example, if you’re running or cycling outside you’ll be dealing with wind resistance which will make those exercises more challenging and in turn burn more calories.
- Load Up on the Fruits and Vegetables of the Season – There are so many delicious vegetables and fruits that are in their prime right now. There are dozens of varieties of apples available from local farms that are packed with healthy and filling fiber and vitamins. Winter squashes like butternut, acorn and pumpkin are coming into season and they can serve as the basis for tons of hearty and satisfying meals. And what’s best, the more of these wholesome, nutritious foods you eat, the less room and cravings you’ll have for processed foods and snacks.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you might want to try making your own healthy version of your favorite Halloween treats. Here are some recipes from a few of my favorite healthy food blogs.
Make your own peanut butter cups.
Make your own Snickers bars.
Make your own Kit Kats.
Make your own Hershey’s bar.