CLEVELAND — Cleveland Clinic psychologist Dr. Susan Albers said this time of year may be extremely difficult for stress eaters, and this year in particular, statistics show more and more people are turning to a sweet treat for stress relief.

“Candy sales are up 13 percent nationally and they've been steadily increasing since March, and in part, the theory is that people are doing a lot of stress eating this is a stressful time,” Dr. Albers said. “And when we are stressed, our bodies become pumped full of cortisol, which is that stress hormone that makes us crave sugary fatty salty foods.”

She said people can still enjoy Halloween candy, but should use the three “S’s” to eat it mindfully.

The first “S” is to sit down while eating chocolate.

“Studies have shown that if we are walking or standing while we eat, we eat 5 percent more chocolate. When you sit down, you're much more focused you enjoy it more. And you tend to eat more mindfully,” she said.

The second “S” is to slowly chew.

“And we can do this by a simple trick that I love is eating with your non-dominant hand,” Dr. Albers said. “So, I'm right handed putting in my left hand and studies show that this actually reduces how much you eat by 30 percent because it slows down the process that mindless munching that we do with the candy.”

The third “S” is to serve up a really healthy dose of protein on Halloween every two to four hours.

“That's things like eggs, yogurt, nuts,” she said. “Protein helps to regulate our blood sugar and we crave sugar, our brain craves sugar and protein helps to keep your blood sugar stable. When it crashes, that's when we go for more candy.”

Dr. Albers said things like cinnamon tea will also regulate blood sugar levels and prevent sugary cravings.

“This year, we are much more stressed during the Halloween season, so keep this in mind, we may need to do some stress relieving activities we can also have a dance party with your kids to work off some of that sugar anything to keep them moving, but we want to enjoy the season. We just want to do it mindfully,” she said.

Dr. Albers said if going out trick or treating isn’t right for a person’s family, they may trick or treat at your house or create a scavenger hunt.

These will not only keep the kids safe, but also cut back on the amount of candy in their home.