As much as I love brainstorming the most creative Halloween costumes — especially for my dog (this year, he's going to be a skunk) — the main attraction of the holiday, at least in my book, is the wide array of delicious treats. Thanks to candies like Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and Sour Patch Kids, I turn into a full-blown child again every single year on Oct. 31. My adult self only emerges briefly to question whether Halloween candy is actually as bad for you as my parents always told me it was. If you, too, are wondering how fulfilling all of your sugar-filled dreams will affect your health this Halloween, a few nutrition experts have some comforting advice.
First of all, says registered dietitian Jess English, "there's no food that's inherently 'good' or 'bad' for you." Instead, she tells Elite Daily in an email, it's more about whether something makes you feel good or bad. "It's the dose that makes the poison, and just as eating candy for each meal wouldn't leave you feeling too hot, eating kale for each meal wouldn't either."
Instead of focusing on whether or not you "should" eat Halloween candy, English says you're better off making sure that your mindset about treating yourself is healthy. In other words, focus on how you can keep your body feeling its best overall, rather than on how "healthy" or "unhealthy" a certain candy or food is. "Moderation is key [when it comes] to including foods higher in sugar to avoid stressing your body," registered dietitian Jamie Rincker tells Elite Daily in an email.
"It is also stressful to over-restrict foods from your diet, so I recommend finding the foods that are comforting and joyful for you and making conscious decisions about when and how much of them you will eat," Rincker explains. Remember: Only you really know how much candy will make you feel sick, or whether something like milk chocolate hurts your stomach, so listening to your own body's cues should be your top priority.
Another way to take care of your body this Halloween is to make sure that you're eating enough healthy foods, too, Dana Plummer, a registered dietitian with Simply Fed Nutrition, LLC, tells Elite Daily in an email. While you might assume that indulging in tasty Halloween treats also means passing on your favorite nutritious meals, there's no reason why you can't find a good balance between the two. "Avoid replacing your normal nutritious snacks with candy during the holiday," Plummer says. "Instead, add it on as a treat!"
Once the candy has been passed out, take some time to really savor the creaminess of the chocolate, or the fruity tang of the hard candies, says Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN, founder of Nutrition Starring YOU and author of the book The Protein-Packed Breakfast Club. "Choose a few of your favorites and really enjoy them," she tells Elite Daily over email. Mindful eating is an important way to embrace your food choices as something you're doing to care for your body, Harris-Pincus explains. "Eat them slowly and savor the flavor, and don't feel guilty about it," she adds.
Besides, "food has many purposes, including pleasure and enjoyment," Lisa Diers, a registered dietitian/nutritionist and yoga therapist, tells Elite Daily. "That's why we have taste buds!"
So go ahead and lose yourself in the caramel goodness of your candied apples, or in the fudgey heaven of a full-sized chocolate bar. Halloween only comes once a year, and hell yes you deserve the treats that come with it.