30 October 2012 Boo! Do Halloween Calories Scare You to Death?

Boo! Do Halloween Calories Scare You to Death?

I understand that many of you who are trying to lose weight are going to struggle with Halloween tomorrow. If you are still buying candy for Halloween parties or for "trick or treaters" then consider these few options to help minimize the calories burden.

Trigger Foods Galore

There is no rule that states you have to buy your favorite candies on Halloween. If you struggle with your weight, then do yourself a favor and do not buy your favorite candies. Chances are high that you will have leftovers – this means you will have a pile of trigger foods within easy reach at home. Why do that to yourself?

Beware the Fun Size or Mini

Sure, if you really just eat one mini or fun size candy bar, you could enjoy your junk food with minimal damage. But will you? Although it depends upon the candy bar, a mini has about 30-50 calories whereas a fun size bar has about 60-90 calories. Melissa Joy Dobbins, MS, RD, CDE has a tip to help remain aware of the calories impact of these miniature candies. Place the number of minis or fun bars that add up to 100 calories in a plastic baggie so you are reminded of how much you are eating. To discover how many calories are in each mini candy, simply read the food label on the original bag. The labels will not be on the mini candies. For more tips on dealing with Halloween candy, see Dobbins in the ABC7 newscast (Chicago, IL) from 10/27/12.

Candy bars that contain chocolate or nuts are typically higher in calories than the hard or chewy sugary confections such as taffy, tootsie rolls, suckers, and licorice. None are great for the teeth and all provide mostly empty calories.

Donating Extra Candy

If you plan to go for the full Monty and buy a ton of candies for Halloween, then consider what you will do with the leftovers. Out of kindness for your fellow human beings, consider not donating to organizations that already serve populations that struggle with their weight. For instance, Food Banks need nutritious food, not empty calories from junk food. Also, does your employee break room become the repository for abandoned junk foods? Why dump calories on your colleagues?

What about sending extra Halloween candy to active overseas military personnel? This means fewer candy calories to a wider number of very active folks who have an otherwise limited access to Halloween candy. If this appeals to you, then look into the "Halloween Candy BuyBack" program.

If you feel that no one would benefit from the extra Halloween candy, then simply throw it out. It is a sunk cost. And next year, either buy less or don't buy it at all.

Why Not Healthier Treats?

I love the trick or treats tradition on Halloween, but years ago, I finally stopped buying junk food for the kids. They don't need it either! In the United States, it's not just adults who struggle with weight - children and teens do too. No one really needs a pillowcase full of candy.

Instead of candies, I now offer treats such as sugar-free gum, whole grain granola bars (my friends with kids think this is ridiculous, but the neighborhood kids always take them), or small packs of dried fruit. I try to mix up the selection, and I typically seek out shopper's clubs to get the best deal on price. No one has stopped trick or treating at my home since the change so I continue to offer these alternative treats.

But you can also offer non-food treats too. Experiment with stickers, single crayons, seasonal eraser heads (yes, there are Halloween-themed erasers), and other small, low-cost toys.

Enjoy your Halloween!

Katherine Isacks, MPS, RD, CDE
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Disclaimer: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit your healthcare provider or medical professional.

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Holidays / Parties/Halloween

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