Halloween is the first true test of the Whole30 holiday season, and what a test it is. Candy is everywhere. The weekends are packed with parties—and spirits of the alcoholic kind. Staying on track can be really, really hard, but it’s not impossible. You just need to adjust your environment, and your experience of the holiday.
Tip 1: Entertain At Home
For many people, Whole30 can be a very isolating experience, especially around the holidays. We hate having to say “no, thanks” to the tasty hors d’oeuvres set out by our hosts, and we don’t necessarily want to reveal (and explain) our new eating habits to a roomful of mixed company.
The answer? Entertain at home. Being in charge of the menu not only guarantees that what you’re eating is compliant, it also allows you to make a variety of foods for Whole30-ers and paleo-ites alike (as well as those freewheelin’ folks in your life who have no dietary concerns whatsoever).
You don’t have to go nuts making a huge, complicated spread of food, just make big batches of a few compliant things so you’ll have some leftovers and smaller batches of non-compliant things that will run out before the end of the night. You could even encourage guests to bring food potluck-style.
Our favorites when entertaining are these spicy little meatballs that everyone loves, these chicken wings and a big batch of guacamole served with celery sticks—whatever you like! Encourage guests to BYOB, and provide a few bottles of something boozy, as well. Stick with flavored seltzer, or make a mocktail. Our favorite is finely grated ginger, lime juice and a dash of pineapple juice mixed with grapefruit-flavored Lacroix seltzer. Refreshing and festive (especially if you drop a brain-shaped ice cube in it to up the spooky factor).
Tip: SERVE YOUR WHOLE30 HALLOWEEN MEATBALLS WITH SWEET AND SPOOKY LITTLE HALLOWEEN TOOTHPICKS.
Tip 2: Focus on Ambience
We live in a society where food is the focus of most holidays and gatherings. Just remember that food, or in this case candy, doesn’t have to be the focus. Redirect your energy toward the ambience and decorative elements of the holiday.
One of our Whole30 rounds overlapped with Halloween, which sent me into a downward spiral. I love Halloween. Going to parties, getting dressed up and having cocktails with friends, and the thought of missing out really made me blue. Then I realized that eating and drinking are tied to the holiday only because it’s something we do with those we love, and we could easily just do something else.
Decorating was huge. We (my husband and I, and our fellow Whole30-er friends) took turns hosting costume parties. We’d get dressed up and hang decorations, watching scary movies (and some age-appropriate choices with our kids) and drinking mocktails. By the end of the month, we even had some of our non-Whole30 friends joining us (and asking for our compliant recipes!).
We didn’t miss out and we got to experience Halloween without the sugar hangover. I’d say it was a success. Now it’s a tradition in our group.
Tip 3: Track Your Treats
No, this tip isn’t giving you permission to indulge in treats of the sugary kind. Your treat is quality time with friends and adorable, spooky decorations. However, if you live in a neighborhood with trick or treaters, or you have kiddos running around the house, you’ll have to face the reality of temptations lurking under your nose.
Track where those treats are and where they’re going. Do not buy more candy than you think you’ll hand out, and get rid of any extra once the last trick or treaters have scampered off into the night. We usually set the last of the candy out in a big plastic bowl offering it up to whoever wants it. Usually the bowl is empty (or gone—always use a bowl you won’t miss) by morning.
The hard one is when your little trick or treaters come home with their sugar-laden haul. Let them pick a few little treats, then have them “trade” the rest in for a prize of some sort. We used this on our kids and nieces and nephews, who combined their candy capital and cashed it in for a trip to the zoo. Smarties.
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