5 Tricks to Treating Yourself on Halloween

There’s nothing scarier than approaching Halloween (or any holiday) with a mindset that you can’t join in on any of the fun.

But how do you go in with a plan that makes you feel good November 1st? You try my five tricks (my treat for you!)

How do you approach a Happy Halloween? Leave your favorite celebration mantras and philosophies in the comments below.


Trick 1: Lose the Food Rules

It’s called will power, not won’t power. Unless you want to feel like it’s Night of the Living Dead, you will want to keep your self control in check, which means you need to stop saying “I won’t eat this or that or that or….” The human brain is a powerful organ and it really tries to follow your arbitrary rules, but the reasonable part gets tired quickly and then the unreasonable part takes over and sends you reeling toward your sugary food reward except now moderation is out the window. Stay rational and say I will enjoy some Halloween treat.

The rest of the “tricks” I offer will help you keep your self control.

Trick 2: Play Favorites

When it comes to candy, I’ll be honest everything is my favorite except maybe black licorice, circus peanuts, and candy corn (I know blasphemy on the last one.) If I had to choose, it would be Reese cups, hands down. The more choice options you have the more you want and the more you are probably going to eat. A sign of good self control is that you can rationally pick your favorite candy and come up with a plan for what you want to do. Ask yourself What treats would I enjoy most in my ideal Halloween evening? 

Trick 3: Savor the Flavor

Most of us don’t know how to savor our food anymore – especially treats and desserts. Part of the problem is the food rules situation I mentioned above. When you decide you dig in, your brain also (counter intuitively) says “let’s get this over with!” It makes no sense, but it’s because you feel bad deep down about your choice. You take your mind out of the game and you tend to overeat it and feel guilty later. (Where is the fun in that?)

Savoring your Halloween treats is easy. Just use your senses – all of them. Notice how it looks, the aroma, mouthfeel and taste. A sign of a flexible eater is the ability to sit with that urge to gobble it up like a Gremlin and just enjoy the food anyway. Give yourself a challenge to make it last, then get on with other Halloween fun to savor. gremlins2_48-12

Trick 4: Let Yourself Get Satisfied

Many of my clients will say something like “It’s so hard to do moderation when my husband/kids/friends are going crazy with the candy. It’s not faiiiiiiiiiirrrrrr. What’s happening here is that we are all a little bit childish and want immediate gratification with what all the cool kids are doing. If you are only letting yourself have one and then you’re back to food policing, you’re a restrained eater. Instead of telling yourself how much you can have, Ask yourself How much do I think I would want to get satisfied?  Summons the rational thinker.

If you’re eating mindfully and recognize you’re not satisfied, I bet it’s the just got out of jail and the cops are looking for me problem. Tell yourself that it’s OK to eat more as long as you are calm and mindful about it. Usually, the free feeling of permission allows you to recognize that you are satisfied or slows you down so you eat less staying “checked in” rather than “checking out” and acting like a Gremlin.

Trick 5: Show Yourself Some Love

No matter what goes down on October 31, there’s good news. The day ends and November 1st is here. Don’t use honest mistakes as an excuse to continue to avoid your long term goals. Also, don’t beat yourself up. That only makes you feel bad, stressed out, and (shocker) emotionally hungry for MORE candy!!!!

If you overdo it on Halloween, forgive any mistakes you made. You are human. It’s part of the growth process. Instead, ask yourself What can I learn from this experience? What did I truly enjoy and what did I do that is not who I want to be?

How do you approach a Happy Halloween? I’d love to know what “tricks” you have up your sleeve.

Leave your favorite celebration mantras and philosophies in the comments below.

Speaking of Love, Link Love!

I’m not the only level-headed realistic dietitian who follows the rule of “no rules”! Check out some of my favorite blogs, tips, and recipes from some of my fabulous RD colleagues!

5 Tricks to Help Kids Manage Halloween Treats

Teal Pumpkin Project (food allergies and non candy treat options)

Treating Without All the Tricks

Halloween Ravioli Recipe

Want More?

Rebecca Scritchfield's Feel Great GuideGet my free Feel Great Guide if you would like to create a healthy, happy life you love.It’s 20+ pages of creative and realistic ideas for living joyfully (and yes, still being healthy!) You’ll get on my  e-mail list which offers additional tools, resources and tips I don’t provide anywhere else.

If you love it, recommend it to your friends too. Muchas gracias

Also check out from my fellow mom RD friends: Self care tips for moms and Treating Yourself (on Mother’s Day) but we know we need this 365!

Banana Bread Make-Over

Banana bread with a hot cup of coffee may seem like a good, quick breakfast or an afternoon snack, but bite for bite, it may not be worth the damage! My recipe, a similar version found in many cookbooks (posted below), yielded the following numbers per serving when cut into 12 thick slices.

290 calories

15 grams fat

1.5 grams fiber


Here is the original recipe, with the substitutions in bold..

  • 1 2/3rd cup all-purpose flour (substituted entirely with whole wheat flour)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar (I only used 2/3rd cup)
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup oil (substituted entirely with ½ cup unsweetened applesauce)
  • 3 very ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream (substituted entirely with 2 tbsp fat-free vanilla yogurt)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2/3rd cup walnuts, chopped and toasted
  1. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt (do not sift).
  2. Beat sugar and eggs with whisk or electric mixer until fluffy, then add oil (unsweetened applesauce).
  3. Combine mashed bananas, sour cream (fat free yogurt) and vanilla, then add to sugar mixture.
  4. Fold in flour mixture and toasted walnuts.
  5. Pour into medium/large loaf pan or two small loaf pans lined with parchment paper. Bake about 50 minutes
  6. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes to an hour

Ready for the big reveal? After all of the substitutions here’s the change…

190 calories

5.5 grams of fat

3.5 grams fiber

Making little changes or substitutions can yield delicious and healthy results.

The Skinny on Alcohol and Healthy Weight Management

If you’re trying maintain a healthy balance in your life, it may seem that every time out for drinks with your friends could be a calorie disaster! Sugar-laden mixes push most standard cocktails well over 300 calories. Did you know that an 8-ounce pina colada can pack in 640 calories? Thats 100 calories more than a Quarter Pounder with cheese! Meanwhile, 8 oz of a Long Island iced tea tips the scale at 780 calories. But you don’t have to become a recluse to avoid these sugar bombs. Follow these tips and you’ll be in tip-top shape.


Ask Yourself-do you really need that drink?

Try to limit yourself to only a couple drinks per week. There is no nutritional benefit to liquor, so each gram of alcohol provides 7 ’empty’ calories. Not only will the drink up your caloric intake for the day, but it can also decrease your inhibitions when it comes to food. You may find yourself mindlessly overeating after drinking, be it a slice of pizza, cake, or whatever is closest to you before you stumble into bed.

Drinking alcohol can also make you feel hungrier because alcohol can lower blood sugar. Besides the fact that alcohol is highly addictive, drinking too much increases your risk of high blood pressure, high triglycerides, liver damage, obesity, and certain types of cancer. Leslie Schilling, RD, and low-calorie cocktail expert, said “There are many negative effects when alcohol is over consumed. Besides the obvious impaired judgment and operation of anything mechanical, decreased inhibitions and poor hydration status come to mind. Decreased inhibitions can lead to overeating and poor decisions of all sorts, while poor hydration status can leave you cramping on your morning jog and overly fatigued the next day.” If you feel pressured to be carrying a drink while out with friends-ask for soda water and lime.

Can I have your number?

According the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the allotted amount of alcohol per day is one drink for a woman and two drinks for a man.

A drink means:

  • 12 ounces of beer
  • 5-ounce glass of wine
  • 1.5 ounces of an 80-proof liquor like vodka or rum

Each of these portions contain around the same amount of calories — 100-150 calories.

Watch the glass!

Serve wine in smaller, thinner glasses, so that you will not mindlessly pour more than the intended serving.

What are you drinking?

Remember: Despite all the press about red wine’s heart healthy benefits, the Mayo Clinic states, “There’s still no clear evidence yet that red wine is superior to other forms of alcohol when it comes to possible heart-health benefits.” It’s not suggested by the American Heart Institute (or others) that you start drinking red wine solely for these health benefits! However, per oz, wine does have few calories than distilled spirits.

Reach for a light beer (around 100 calories per 12 ounce bottle) rather than regular bear (150 cal). Remember to stick to suggested portions (12 ounces for women and 24 ounces for men per day.)

Cocktail mixes are packed with sugar and when combined with alcohol, the calories for one drink can be 500 or more. Remember, you can also ask the bartender to make your order diet or light. Schilling’s favorite cocktail is a Vodka Grayhound-vodka and preferably fresh squeezed grapefruit juice.( See below for Schilling’s great Margarita recipe, and check out these lower Calorie Recipes of classic cocktails: Skinny Margaritas Low-cal Mojitos, Moscow Mules, and Caprhina’s . )

Start your night off with a no-cal glass of H2O and continue to have one between every drink you order. Water will keep you hydrated so you’re not chugging cocktails to quench your thirst, and  it prevents you from having a hangover the next day, so we say cheers to that.

Leslie Schilling, RD, shared with me a low calorie cocktail recipe that’s in high demand at all of her dinner parties:

The Million-Dollar Margarita

Copyright © 2010 Leslie Schilling. All Rights Reserved.

Make 2 quarts (you might as well mix the pitcher)

  • 1 cup triple sec
  • 1 cup tequila
  • 1 12 fluid ounce light beer (yes, a beer)
  • 1 long squeeze lime (optional), ~ 1 Tbsp
  • 1 container sugar-free lemonade** (makes 2 quarts
  • Water

Mix the first four ingredients in a 2 quart pitcher. If you like, add the juice of one fresh lime (or natural lime juice). Add the sugar-free lemonade and mix with a whisk (clumps aren’t very popular or tasty). Fill the pitcher to the 2 quart mark with water. Stir and chill.

These are great served on ice right away or chilled for about an hour. They’re still very drinkable for about two days. **If you’d prefer a stevia-based sweetener, use one pack of no sugar added Lemonade, like Kool-Aid, and add 1 packet stevia sweetener to each glass.

Makes ~10, 6½ oz servings. Approximate calories per serving:  120-more than half the calories of an average margarita!

Take these tips into account and you’ll never gain the dreaded beer gut! See more of Leslie’s great recipes on her new blog Sippin Smart or follow it on twitter!

Do you have any tips to share? What’s your go-to drink at the bar?

Agave Nectar No Healthier Than Othan Sweeteners

Have you turned your love of sugar in to a love of agave in an effort to be healthier? Maybe you should rethink much “love” you give it. If you are unfamiliar, agave nectar (ah gav ee) is a sweetener that ranges in color from light to dark, depending on the processing time and amount of minerals in the product. It is less thick than honey or maple syrup and has a sweeter taste. The agave sweetener comes from various species of the agave plant. After the juice has been extracted, it is heated to create simple sugars. The final product is some percentage of the sugars glucose and fructose.

So far agave should remind you of typical sugar sweeteners – including high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). However, the reality is that in recent years agave has been given a “health halo.” Since agave is vegan and can be processed at lower heat temperatures to satisfy raw food enthusiasts, it is an obvious desirable sweetener for some. But people have been flocking to use agave more and more because of its “low glycemic index” (low immediate effect on blood sugar). Since agave is mostly fructose the glycemic index is lowest of all the sugars. This has led some people to believe that agave is a healthier option. However, low glycemic index does not mean healthy. In fact, fructose is metabolized directly by the liver, which is different from other sugars, and can lead to fatty liver deposits. High fructose intake has also been linked to weight gain, insulin resistance, and heart disease risk in animal studies.

At best, agave is no healthier for you than other sweeteners. The fructose in agave (even if they call it natural) is not the same fructose in a piece of natural fruit. It is processed. Like all processed food products with added sugars, you should have them rarely and in limited quantities. There is no reason to select agave before other sweeteners when it comes to nutrition.

However, there may be culinary benefits. For example, the light agave is neutral in flavor and might be a good choice to sweeten sauces or beverages. The darker agave has a more caramel flavor and might be preferred for more robust dishes.

Agave is not the “angel” it’s been made out to be and certainly is not deserving of the “health halo” it has been given. That said, it’s not a “devil” ingredient either if you are health conscious. Like all sugars, it’s up to you to decide how much you will have and how often. Avoiding foods with added sugars altogether is not entirely realistic, but don’t think of agave as a free pass to eat a pan of cookies or brownies made with the nectar, either.

Fruit2o “Docks” at Boston Harborfest to Get Pledges for Healthy Living

Hey Beantown residents… Are you without plans for the fourth of July? Boston Harborfest (www.bostonharborfest.com) in the Boston, Massachusetts City Hall Plaza could be just what you’re looking for! Running from the 2nd of July to the 5th, the event is free with over 200 events and Fruit2o will be there too.

Between historical reenactments, tours, concerts, and Chowderfest, stop by the Fruit2o booth to sample some of the new Fruit2o Essentials flavors and make a pledge to be healthier with “small changes”. You may have heard me talk about making small behavior changes before on my interview with Fox 5 in D.C. and other interviews throughout the summer in my work with Fruit 2o.

A small change is the best jump start to living healthier. Small changes can be anything from walking 15-30 minutes each day or drinking less sweetened beverages (sodas, energy drinks, sweet tea). Sugar sweetened drinks have little nutrition for the calories and can lead to weight gain and diabetes. According to the Massachusetts Diabetes Prevention Program, an estimated 110,388 more people in Massachusetts had diabetes in 2007. As little as one 20-oz sugar sweetened beverage a day (17 tsp) is nearly twice the recommended “sugar limit” (9 tsp) — eek!

If you want flavor, you can try hydrating with a zero calorie water beverage like Fruit2o. Miss soda bubbles? Mix equal parts Fruit 2o and seltzer water over ice for a zero calorie fruit flavored cooler.

When you pledge to make a small change like the ones above, you can also make a difference in the fight against diabetes. For every pledge, Fruit20 will generously give a dollar to your local American Diabetes Association. A small change for you can mean a big change for the community! What a great trade off!

Can’t make it to Boston? Visit Fruit2o on Facebook and write a pledge on their wall. They’ll still donate a buck on your behalf. Be sure to specify the Boston chapter of the American Diabetes Association.

For more information on the Boston Harborfest, follow them on twitter or visit their website.