Fall is usually one of my favorite seasons – back to school, back to routine. But this year like many of you I have found myself searching for comfort in response to the horrific events occurring in our world today. Pair these emotions with the endless availability of holiday treats, Halloween candy, pumpkin spice everything, and apple cider donuts and I’ll admit willpower doesn’t stand a chance. I get it, these treats are on every corner, and the flavors are warming (we all need that right now) but here is a gentle reminder that temptations are simply band-aids that add empty calories you weren’t banking on, mood swings, and energy dips (do we need more of that these days?). In order to skip these comfort disruptors, as they ultimately make us feel worse at the end, read on for our tips on what to watch out, swap out, and what to do instead. Sending warmth to you and yours.
What to Look Out For:
- Halloween fun-size snacks: Sure they are portion-controlled but those ingredient lists are scary enough! Look out for: artificial colors and flavors, additives, stabilizers, and added sugars. They typically also come in large packages with multiple servings and while one may not seem like a lot (50 – 70 calories each – not bad), it’s hard to stop there. What to do: keep them out of reach, give yourself a candy limit, and only eat your absolute favorites.
- Pumpkin spice latte/seasonal beverage: Who doesn’t enjoy a seasonal warm pumpkin spice latte to cozy up with as the chilly weather hits? Did you know, at most coffee shops the flavor that makes it taste oh so good, usually comes from pumpkin-flavored sweeteners or syrups – real pumpkin is rarely on the ingredient list. Other sneaky offenders: whipped cream that adds twice the amount of calories, crunchy toppings, and the type of milk used. If you must – order the smallest size and make it a treat not a daily thing.
- Fall special baked goods: Pumpkin muffins, apple cider donuts, seasonal pies, maple everything sounds like healthy options for breakfast or snack right? Wrong! They are often x-large, calorically dense, high in saturated fat & contain sugar and refined carbohydrates. This can lead to blood sugar fluctuations, further cravings, low energy, and even weight gain.
Healthier Swaps – What to Look For Then?
- Cleaner candy options or Dark Chocolate: These days there are a variety of healthier snack alternatives made with higher-quality ingredients, free from artificial colors and flavors, and contain less added sugars. We recommend dark chocolate or “candy” snacks with a short ingredient list (5-7 natural ingredients) and less than 3-5g of added sugar per serving. Bonus – Dark chocolate is full of fiber and antioxidants!
- Healthy crunchy snacks: Who said Halloween treats have to be sweet? Individual packages of Halloween-themed popcorn, nuts, roasted seaweed, and pretzels are all great for eating and sharing too! These individual packages also come in smaller sizes, which is great for portion control.
- Pumpkin pie spice drinks: Make your own! This gives you control over the ingredients. Need an idea? Try our pumpkin pie spice smoothie that’s filled with real pumpkin, high-quality protein, healthy fat, and all the flavor you crave!
- Homemade pumpkin baked goods: Pumpkin itself is a very nutritious ingredient packed with fiber and a variety of nutrients. Similar to making your own pumpkin beverage, making your own pumpkin baked goods. You control the size, quality of the ingredients, and amount of sugar in your treats! Freeze extra for later too and extend your pumpkin-flavored season well into winter.
And don’t forget to enjoy all the seasonal fruits and veggies available now too including winter squash, apples, pears, greens, and more! Make your healthy choices fun and varied so you and as always have fun!