Healthier Halloween for Athletes

5 Tips for Athletes:

1.  Eat dinner.

Eating a balanced dinner before trick-or-treating is super important and probably the best thing you can do to promote an athlete's health on Halloween. Choose lean protein (beef, chicken, fish, eggs, etc.), healthy carbs (quinoa, potatoes, rice, whole grain pasta), and colorful veggies and fruits (broccoli, spinach, kale, peppers, berries, apples, bananas) to insure full bellies while trick-or-treating.  If you don't have time for dinner, blend up a quick smoothie.

2.  Limit Restrictions.

Enjoy the candy within reason.  Athletes may want to choose a couple pieces of candy to have with each meal and snack during the first several days after Halloween.  This will keep it fun without overdoing it.  Making a big deal out of restrictions may lead to future issues with sweets. What if your athlete wants to eat all of the candy at once? This provides a huge life lesson opportunity, with natural consequences.   Use this time to teach rather than judge. *However, if you have a meet/performance the day after Halloween, I suggest not eating all the candy at once!  

3. Consider daily sugar intake recommendations.  

Keep in mind that we should all limit our sugar consumption to less than 10% of total energy intake.  Furthermore, when we keep added sugars below 5% (25 grams or 6 tsp) per day, we are providing an even greater increase of health benefits. Along with candy, include healthy options when possible. Most serious athletes understand that added sugar does not help them reach high performance goals.  They are typically more than willing to eat a nutritious meal or snack when given the opportunity.  Here are 50 + Healthy and Festive Halloween Ideas.  Also check out Nutritious Snacks for Athletes and Sugar Consumption and the Athlete for additional information.

4. Eat candy thoughtfully.  

Try unwrapping the candy slowly, or make a game out of how intact you can keep the wrapper as you remove the candy.  Describe a costume you saw while trick-or-treating or favorite house decorations between each piece of candy you eat.  Savor and enjoy each bite. Chew it slowly and notice the taste, texture and how you feel as you eat it. Usually, when extra time is taken, we are more in tune with hunger and fullness. 

5.  Focus on Halloween-themed fun.  

There are plenty of fun things to do on Halloween.  Pumpkin carving, spooky games, face painting, and dressing up can help dilute the focus on sweets.  For teen athletes, consider meeting up with friends at a coffee or donut shop.  Enjoy a one-time indulgence with friends and then move on with keeping that athletic lifestyle.  

I hope everyone enjoys Halloween with family and friends!

~Coach Marli