Thursday, October 13, 2011

Dietitian’s Tips to Make Halloween a Treat (Not a Trick)

To me, Halloween marks the beginning of the fall holiday season. Although Halloween is supposed to be spooky, it doesn't mean you have to dread its effects on your health or weight management plan! Let’s face it – resisting Halloween candy is hard to do.  But you can have a guilt-free Halloween while enjoying a few treats as long as you have a few tricks up your sleeve!  In fact, if you allow yourself a treat here and there, you’re more likely to stick to your diet.  With a little knowledge and planning, you can still enjoy the fun (and some candy) while maintaining your health and weight management goals.

Remember that all desserts and sweets should be eaten in moderation.  Although it is okay to treat yourself sometimes, desserts are a source of empty calories and fat.  And they don’t provide many healthy nutrients.  Limit yourself to one serving of dessert or less per day and make sure to count it as part of your meal plan or calorie goals. Here are some of my tips for handling Halloween temptations:
  • Purchase the candy you plan to give away only a couple days before Halloween so it's not in the house for long!
  • Buy mini or fun-sized packages of candy only.
  • Consider fun-sized, healthier options like chocolate teddy grahams, animal crackers or 100 calorie packs of cookies. Don't worry; I know kids don't want raisins and apples for Halloween...but these are snacks that kids like!
  • Throw away (or give away) any candy that you or your kids don't particularly like.
  • Out of sight, out of mind! Keep some candy in the pantry, on a shelf that you don't see as soon as you open the door.  Not in the candy bowl on the table!
  • Consider this a teaching moment with your family. Certainly allow kids to have a few more pieces of candy than usual on the night of Halloween.  But in the days following, set some limits about how much candy is allowed. It’s never too early to teach kids about food and nutrition. Remember, if you don't need it, neither do the kids!
  • Keep some candy, especially chocolate, in the freezer. It won't go bad as quickly and you'll have a little treat option for months to come.
  • Increase your activity level if you plan to indulge a little more than usual.
  • If you have a sweet tooth, don’t always reach for the candy jar! Instead try low-fat chocolate pudding, flavored yogurt, berries drizzled with honey or apple with peanut butter. These healthy “desserts” provide good nutrition too.
Happy Halloween! I know it's early, but we're planning ahead :)