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5 Tips For a Healthy Halloween!

For many of us, Halloween can be one of the hardest holidays to stick to your normal fitness routine and nutritional habits.

And while sometimes the splurge is well worth it, we’ve compiled a list of 5 ways to enjoy your Halloween without feeling regret on November 1st!

1. Make sure you indulge in fine chocolate

Chocolate is Dr. Johnson’s favorite part of Halloween. No other sugary treat gives us that rush of joy like chocolate does. This is because cacao, the main ingredient of chocolate, has three mood-affecting constituents:

  • Tryptophan is an amino acid that assists the brain in the creation of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that causes us to feel happy and satisfied. Most women have low levels of serotonin which may explain chocolate cravings.

  • Phenylethylamine is a naturally acting antidepressant that produces feelings similar to that of falling in love- an increased heart rate, alertness, and motivation.

  • Theobromine stimulates a high, comparable to cannabis, albeit at a much lower level. It produces a relaxing and stress-relieving effect.

But it’s also important to note that the positive effects of the ingredients of chocolate on our mood are going to be much more impactful when we eat fine, organic chocolate. Commercialized chocolate, like Hershey’s, contains large amounts of sugar and additives that take the place of the natural cacao. By law in the US, milk chocolate has to be at least 10% cocoa, meaning the remaining 90% in commercial chocolate is sugar and other additives. Fine milk chocolate often has 35-55% cocoa, allowing you to receive the mood-enhancing effects of cocoa.

Dr. Johnson’s top 5 Halloween treats:

  • Hu- When Dr. Johnson wants a chocolate treat, Hu is her go-to. Hu chocolate is made with organically house-ground cacao and is Paleo, Vegan, and Dairy Free. Hu chocolate also contains no cane or refined sugars, sugar alcohols, palm oil, emulsifiers, or soy lecithin. Hu is the most natural chocolate you can buy!

  • Theo Chocolate- Theo prioritizes small farms when sourcing their cocoa beans. They work directly with farmers in Peru and the Democratic Republic of Congo to ensure organic and Fair Trade certified cocoa that is beneficial for the farmers and the environment. Theo also doesn’t use soy or sunflower lecithin or other additives in their chocolate.

  • Alter Eco- Founded by two French foodies, Alter Eco uses their chocolate to support sustainable agriculture. Alter Eco uses 100% organic and non-GMO ingredients in their chocolate.

  • Taza Chocolate- Taza prioritizes the flavors in cacao by using a traditional Mexican stone grounding technique for all of their beans. Their products are organic and Direct Trade Certified. Taza also has vegan and dairy-free options.

  • Green & Black’s- This chocolate brand was founded on sustainable and ethical cocoa sourcing principles. Their organic chocolate is made with the finest organic materials.

2. Choose your alcohol wisely

While everyone (of legal age) would like to have a beer after a long night of trick or treating, swapping it out for a glass of wine is much more beneficial for your health! Multiple studies have proved that red wine is the only alcoholic drink that comes with health benefits, including reducing your risk of heart disease, relieving stress, supporting memory, and can be good for your teeth! Just be sure you’re sipping a natural, organic wine. Natural wine is higher in antioxidants, nutrients, and has no exposure to harmful pesticides or herbicides.

We recommend you purchase your wines from Dry Farm Wines. Dry Farm Wines are not your typical Natural and organic wine producer; Dry Farm Wines Farms works with small farmers who grow their grapes organically. Dry farmed grapes are higher in resveratrol, a polyphenol found in the skin of red grapes that gives red wine its antioxidant properties in protecting against cancer and heart disease. Dry Farm Wines are all sugar-free, additive-free, made with natural yeast, and have lower levels of alcohol (meaning less sugar) and lower levels of sulfites (meaning less risk of a hangover).

For an extra special Halloween treat, use your favorite Dry Farm’s red wine to make this delicious Halloween Sangria.

3. Try one of these healthy, Halloween-themed snacks:

4. Take your kiddies' trick or treating after dinner!

Taking your kids trick or treating after dinner serves two benefits. First, when you take them out hunting for candy after dinner, they’ll be less likely to fill up on sugary treats. Secondly, taking an after-dinner walk can actually offer you some great health benefits!

In Italy, after-dinner walks have been a tradition for centuries. They call it a passeggiata. As a growing trend in the health and fitness community, more and more research is being published about the health benefits of a passeggiata. Some of the findings are below:

  • Improved digestion- A walk after a meal has been linked to improved digestion. Moving your body after eating can stimulate the stomach and intestines, causing food to move more rapidly through the digestive tract. Several studies have even found that an after-dinner walk can prevent diseases like heartburn, irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, peptic ulcers, and colorectal cancer. Physical exercise after eating can also have a protective effect on the GI tract.

  • Better blood sugar levels- Taking a passeggiata has also been found to improve blood sugar levels. This is especially beneficial for people with diabetes, because a passeggiata can help prevent spikes in blood sugar after a meal. One study found that a light 10-minute walk after a meal was superior to a 30-minute walk at any time in terms of blood sugar management for people with diabetes.

  • Lowered blood pressure- Several studies have found that an after-dinner walk can play a role in regulating blood pressure. Specifically, 3 daily 10 minute walks have been associated with lowered blood pressure levels. Moreover, several short walks per day are more effective for lowering blood pressure than one long walk.

5. Hand out non-edible items or healthier treats to your trick or treaters!

This tip has a two-pronged benefit. Not only will avoiding the sugary candy prevent you and your family from snacking on the empty calories, but handing out non-edible items and healthier treats will make the other neighborhood parents thank you. Here are some ideas for sugary treat alternatives:

Non-edible items:

  • Bouncy balls

  • Stickers or stamps

  • Temporary tattoos

  • Bubble makers

  • Glow sticks

  • Vampire's teeth

  • Slime or squishy toys

  • Spider rings

Healthier treats:

  • Clementines or cuties decorated like Jack-O-Lanterns

  • Sugar-free gum

  • 100% real fruit snacks

  • Snack-sized packages of popcorn or nuts

  • Fruit juice boxes

While following a healthy diet and lifestyle is key to staying on your journey to optimal health, keep in mind that it's okay to stray every once and a while! Just make sure you enjoy the foods you eat and use the healthiest, organic ingredients possible!

To learn more about optimizing your health at the Johnson Center, click here. If you have any more questions about your path to optimal health, email our office at or call 276-235-3205.

The Johnson Center for Health services patients in-person in our Blacksburg and Virginia Beach locations. We also offer telemedicine for residents of Virginia and North Carolina!