Halloween Survival Guide

We know that there are lots of Halloween “survival guides” out there. As well there should be – this is a really hard time of year to stay on track with healthy eating! A lot of the common-sense advice is good, and exactly what we talk about with our clients, too. Things like:

  • DON’T buy candy until October 31 or right before. Just don’t! If you have it hanging around your house, it will tempt you and it will make sticking to your plan harder.
  • DON’T buy the candy you love the most. For the same reasons!
  • DO decide in advance when and how much candy you will have. While it’s likely not reasonable to eat all the candy you’d like, it’s also not reasonable to have none. Look for the middle ground.
  • DO get rid of as much leftover candy as you can once Halloween is over and if you have to keep some in the house (if, for example, your kids won’t give up their stash), then put it in a place that’s not easily accessible and definitely not in plain sight.

While these tips are great and make a difference, it’s important to spend time thinking about what sabotaging thoughts might get in the way of actually implementing them. I was going over these strategies with my client, Theresa, who has two kids. She told me that she might be tempted to buy Halloween candy ahead of time because she would have thoughts like, “Just buy it now while you’re at the store and thinking about it. That way you won’t have to go back to the store on Halloween. Besides, it’s okay to have it around the house. I’ll be fine.” To help her overcome these thoughts, Theresa made the following Response Card:

It’s not okay to buy candy early. I’ve done this every year before and every year I end up getting into it before Halloween and getting off track. Even though it’s a bit more of a hassle to go back to the store, it’s a hassle that’s worth putting up with because it will help me stay on track and feel good. 


Theresa and I then discussed how much candy she would have and when she would have it. Originally Theresa said that she’d like to just not have any, but I asked her if that would be reasonable given that it’s her family’s tradition to sit around after trick-or-treating, sorting through candy and eating some. Theresa decided that a better strategy would be to buy one package of Reese’s Cups (her very favorite candy) on Halloween, while she was buying the candy to give out to trick-or-treaters. She would eat it that night while her kids were eating their candy, and then that would be it. She would consider her kids’ candy completely off-limits and have her husband keep it in his study, which she knew he would be fine with. If she got a strong craving for candy after Halloween, she would go out and buy a single serving of whatever she wanted and work it into her day. No matter what, she wouldn’t open the door to having her kids’ candy, because once that door was open, she’d be tempted to eat it over and over again. Theresa made the following plan:

Halloween Plan

  1. Buy candy for trick-or-treaters on Halloween and not a day before.
  2. While I’m at the store, buy one package of Reese’s Cups for myself.
  3. When the family is sitting around after trick-or-treating, enjoy my treat slowly and mindfully.
  4. Keep the kids’ leftover candy in Jeff’s study.
  5. If I get a craving for candy in the coming days, work it into my day and go out and get another single-sized serving.
  6. No kids’ candy, no matter what. That’s not my candy.

Theresa also made the following Response Card to help her stick to not eating her kids’ candy:

If I give in and have my kids’ candy, I’m going to make life so much harder for myself because then I’ll constantly be craving it. NO CHOICE, I’m just not having it. It’s not that I can’t ever have candy – I can go out and get some and work it into my plan – but I’m not having theirs. It’s 100% not worth it. 

Halloween is just around the corner! It’s important to start thinking about what plans and Response Cards you need to navigate it successfully!

2 replies
  1. Marsha
    Marsha says:

    I love this! So practical! While I have practiced the strategy of not buying candy until the day of Halloween and buying mostly stuff I don’t like, I have been lax in recent years — no big deal, it’s just one day. But I usually end up overeating it that day and the next. I Love the idea of buying candy I don’t like, and buying myself something I do and enjoying it. Then getting rid of what I don’t hand out the next day. Thanks for the timely post!

  2. Betsy P
    Betsy P says:

    I completely agree with not allowing any from children’s stash. I too put things in my husband’s study – it helps. It will humiliate me to have to go to him for a treat! For some reason I will not go out just to buy candy for me – that I won’t allow – but once it’s at home, I will crave it.


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