I say this every year, but I can’t believe it’s Halloween already. I’m sure it comes round faster and faster each year!
Both Halloween and Bonfire Night are celebrated in the autumn season, bringing with them a blend of festivities, treats and opportunities to maintain a balanced approach to health and fitness. As the days grow shorter and the weather cools down, finding ways to enjoy these occasions while staying mindful of our well-being becomes crucial. We’re going to look at ways that you can navigate health and fitness during both Halloween and Bonfire Night.
Halloween is synonymous with sugary indulgence, as trick-or-treaters and adults alike take part in the enjoyment of eating chocolate, sweet treats and many other sugary snacks. However, embracing a health-conscious mindset doesn’t mean completely abstaining from these or any other treats. It simply involves making thoughtful choices that allow you to enjoy the treat without overindulgence.
Think about the following points if you’re fancying a sugary snack:
1) Moderation is key. Rather than avoiding all sweets and chocolate, practice eating them in moderation. Enjoy a small portion your favourite treats while being mindful of portion sizes.
2) Choose dark chocolate over milk or white chocolate. Pick a dark chocolate with a higher cocoa content as this contain antioxidants and is often lower in sugar than milk chocolate.
3) Get creative in the kitchen and make your own Halloween-themed treats using healthier ingredients. This way, you can control the amount of sugar and choose wholesome alternatives. This is also a great activity to do together if you have children. I love baking with Hannah and Elli, and even though they are now grown up, we still get together every Christmas to bake all our Christmas treats – but that’s a blog for later in the year 😊
4) Don’t just focus on treats that are edible. Try to incorporate some physical, fun activities into the Halloween celebrations. Organize costume-themed walks or mini dance parties to keep everyone moving. Try Jonny Strangeways spooky family disco on the 29th October at Left Bank (tickets £4) A Devilishly Spooky Family Disco with DJ Jonny Strangeways, Left Bank Leeds, October 29 2023 | AllEvents.in or a Halloween ghost hunt at Armley Mills on the 27th October Halloween Ghost Hunt at Armley Mills, Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley Mills, October 27 to October 28 | AllEvents.in. Hannah is also heading to the free pumpkin trail walk at Golden Acre Park on Saturday 28th!
5) If you find yourself reaching for sweets and chocolate out of habit, try to distinguish between true hunger, cravings and boredom. Keep nutritious snacks like nuts, fruits, and veggies on hand. Look at our blog with lots of healthy snack recipes: Healthy Nutritious Snacks – W Fitness
6) Hannah saw a Halloween tradition she’d like to start with Poppy, called the Halloween Switch Witch – this is where any sweets that are collected during Trick or Treating that your child doesn’t like / won’t eat as they’ve got duplicates are placed in a bucket outside their bedroom door that evening and the Switch Witch comes through the night to take them away and exchange them for other non-edible goodies (this could be craft stuff / games etc). Some years they may not want to switch any sweets and that’s fine, but this is a great way to make your child decide which sweets they really want, and which they don’t without making food “bad” and causing eating issues later in life.
Bonfire Night, or Guy Fawkes Night, is a British tradition that involves gathering around bonfires and enjoying fireworks displays. It’s an occasion often accompanied by comforting, calorie-rich foods and drinks. While it’s tempting to indulge, it’s equally important to stay mindful of your choices and to watch portion sizes:
1) Enjoy hearty, balanced, healthy meals. If you’re planning to attend a bonfire night event, enjoy a nutritious, balanced meal beforehand which will help curb excessive snacking on unhealthy options later.
2) As temperatures drop, try making hearty, homemade soups. These can be both warming and nourishing as well as filling, providing a healthier alternative to processed snacks. You can add a variety of veg and meat and even pasta and rice to bulk it out a little. Try the following recipes: Winter Warming Soups – W Fitness.
3) Make sure to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. This might be harder in the colder months as hot chocolate and mulled cider can be far more tempting, but it is still important as hydration plays a crucial role in maintaining overall well-being. Remember to drink water throughout the day and in the evening, instead of sugary drinks, whilst watching tv. This can also help to stop the evening ‘munchies’ 😊
4) You don’t have to miss out on food and snacks that are offered at events or parties but just be mindful of the choices that you make. If there are food stalls or vendors at the bonfire event, choose food that offers a balance of nutrients. Look for items that include lean proteins, whole grains, and vegetables.
5) Make the most of the evening by participating in active festivities. Play games, build a scarecrow for the bonfire, dance or simply take a stroll while enjoying the fireworks.
Look after yourself in the Winter Months
Whilst enjoying the celebrations, don’t forget to look after both your physical and mental well-being. The autumn season can bring about a shift in mood for some people due to reduced sunlight exposure. Here’s how to maintain a healthy equilibrium:
1) Get outdoors! Autumn is a wonderful time for making the most of the outdoors and fresh air. Take advantage of the season’s charm by engaging in outdoor activities such as a walk in the park, kicking the leaves as you go, or a stroll along the beach at the coast. You can’t beat the coast in autumn and winter. One of my favourite things to do is to get wrapped up and go for a long walk (usually ending up in a cosy pub with an open fire). Sunlight and physical activity can positively impact mood.
2) Amongst all the excitement and busyness, remember to take time for you and find time for some mindfulness. Practice deep breathing, meditation, or yoga to alleviate stress and stay centered and grounded. Enjoy time reading a book, having a luxurious bubble bath or simply just sitting listening to music and relaxing.
3) Celebrate with friends and family who share your views on health and fitness. Having a good support system can make it easier to make balanced choices.
4) Make sure that you are getting enough good quality sleep. The change in daylight can disrupt sleep patterns. Ensure you’re getting enough rest by maintaining a consistent sleep schedule. Wind down and turn off any tvs, phones etc at least 30 to 60 minutes before you go to sleep.
5) Embrace the joy of the season without fixating on perfection. Allow yourself to enjoy the seasonal festivities guilt-free, knowing that a balanced approach is sustainable and beneficial. Consistency is the most important thing so a little deviation now and again will not affect your health and fitness goals :)
In conclusion, navigating health and fitness during Halloween and Bonfire Night involves finding a balance that allows you to enjoy the festivities while prioritising your well-being. By making conscious choices, staying active, and embracing mindful practices, you will be able to fully partake in the festivities without compromising your health goals. This autumn, let the celebrations be a harmonious blend of treats, warmth, and wellness 😊
Caroline & Hannah xx