It happens every autumn. No sooner has the last goblin rappelled down the wall of Halloween candy in the supermarket than the fruits and vegetables go into the witness protection program and refuse to be seen unless covered from tip to stem in cream cheese and pecans.

Other popular disguises include vanilla custard and cream of mushroom soup.

It’s challenging, but not impossible, to maintain healthy eating habits during the holiday season. And before anyone objects to the use of the term “holiday season,” let’s call it by its rightful name: the weight-gain season.

Overnight, supermarket displays that formerly held low-sodium crackers are groaning under pounds of chocolate chips, shredded coconut and walnuts. Shelves stocked with marshmallow fluff and corn syrup materialize in the middle of the aisles. Boxes of confectioner’s sugar are stacked like high-rise apartments.

The skim milk is pushed to the side of the refrigerator cases to make more room for half-and-half, whipping cream, heavy whipping cream, cream cheese, sour cream, butter and cookie dough.

Frozen vegetables lose some of their shelves to chocolate pies, fruit pies, cream pies, cheesecakes and ice cream, and within reach you’ll find bottles of chocolate sauce, caramel sauce, hot fudge, butterscotch, strawberry sauce and liquid marshmallow. It’s important to make healthy choices. A banana under the ice cream will raise your potassium intake.

Eggs are a valuable source of protein. To make President Reagan’s Favorite White House Egg Nog, blend six whole eggs with a cup and a half of sugar and a tablespoon of vanilla. Add three cups of half-and-half, 1 cup of bourbon, 1 cup of brandy, 1 cup of rum, and stir. Standard warning: consuming raw eggs may be unsafe, and you should probably throw your car keys into the garbage disposal. By the time you get a plumber on Christmas Eve, you’ll be OK to drive.

You don’t want to get sick over the holidays, so get plenty of vitamin C from good sources like a cream cheese pound cake with citrus glaze. Betty Crocker’s Apple Butter Pecan Cupcakes with cream cheese frosting will cover the apple-a-day thing if your dentist advises against chocolate drizzled caramel apples.

And remember to eat your spinach. This time of year, that means two 10-ounce packages of frozen chopped spinach, 5 tablespoons of butter, 4 ounces of cream cheese, a cup of half-and-half, and a quarter cup of grated Parmesan cheese. Add a little flour and some sautéed onion and garlic, which will support your immune system and discourage any remaining vampires still hunting for Halloween candy.

Everyone abhors food waste, so turn that leftover bread from dinner into bread pudding by mixing 3 cups of milk, 2 cups of heavy cream, 6 eggs, a cup of granulated sugar, 2 teaspoons of vanilla, a few dashes of salt, a little cinnamon, half a cup of toasted pecans and the zest of an orange (vitamin C again). Fill a baking dish with about 12 cups of torn-up bread, pour everything else over it, refrigerate for at least an hour, and bake at 325 degrees for 50 minutes. Waste not, want not, and when you try on your clothes, fit not.

Tis the season.

In other supermarket news, Haggen just announced that the U.S. Bankruptcy Court has approved the sale of eight of its California stores to Gelson’s and 28 to Smart & Final. Gelson’s will take over locations in Santa Monica and Thousand Oaks, and Smart & Final is buying the Haggen store in Newbury Park.

Haggen has also accepted bids for 55 other stores in California, Nevada, Arizona, Oregon and Washington, subject to the bankruptcy court’s approval.

Albertsons has offered to buy more than 30 of the stores, which could salvage the retirements of many of the employees who lost their jobs as a result of the botched Haggen takeover. Let’s hope the Federal Trade Commission, which triggered the debacle by forcing Albertsons and Safeway to sell off 168 stores when the companies merged, has the sense to stay out of it this time.

You can help them decide by writing to Deborah L. Feinstein, Director of the Bureau of Competition, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20580.