6 mindful tips on how to avoid getting sucked into the Halloween candy calorie pit
- 2 Minutes Read
If you are frightened of an overload of Halloween candy calories, consider these strategies for enjoying a little healthier holiday!
If you struggle with weight, do yourself a favor and don't buy your favorite sweets for trick-or-treaters. You will probably have leftover candy, meaning a pile of trigger foods within easy reach. Why do that to yourself? If you do buy candy, choose ones you don't care for to reduce the temptation.
I love the trick-or-treat Halloween tradition, but I stopped buying sugary treats for the kids years ago. It's not just adults who struggle with weight-children and teens do too. There's nothing wrong with enjoying a few treats, but no one needs a pillowcase full of candy.
Instead of traditional candy, I now offer sugar-free gum, whole-grain granola bars, or small dried fruit packs. My friends with kids think this is ridiculous, but the neighborhood kids always take them. I try to mix up the selection every year, and I go to warehouse clubs to get the best prices. No one has stopped trick-or-treating at my home since the change, so I continue to offer these alternative treats.
Treats don't have to be food. One study even found that kids are just as likely to choose a toy as a candy option. Offer stickers, crayons, erasers, bubbles, and other small, inexpensive goodies. Check out the Teal Pumpkin Project for more non-food treat ideas. This initiative started as a way to promote non-food treats for kids with food allergies.
The bonus of giving out non-food treats: no tempting candy in the house!
Sure, if you eat just one mini or fun-size candy bar, you could enjoy your treat with minimal damage. But will you? Depending upon the candy bar, a mini has about 30-50 calories, whereas a fun-size bar has about 60-90 calories! Registered Dietitian Melissa Joy Dobbins shares a tip to stay aware of the calories in these candies. Place the number of minis or fun bars that add up to 100 calories in a plastic bag to remind you how much you are eating. To learn how many calories are in each mini candy, read the Nutrition Facts label on the bag. The nutrition information will not be on the individual candies. Still, you can also find most of the minis and fun-sizes in MyNetDiary's database.
Candy bars that contain chocolate or nuts are typically higher in calories than the hard or chewy confections such as taffy, suckers, and licorice. None are good for your teeth, and all provide empty calories.
If you buy too much Halloween candy or have your own trick-or-treaters bringing home their loot, consider what you will do with the excess.
What about sending extra Halloween candy to active overseas military personnel? This approach sends Halloween candy calories to a larger number of physically active folks who have limited access to candy. If you like the idea, then check out the Operation Gratitude program. Also, many dentist offices collect extra Halloween candy for cash.
While donations may seem admirable, consider if it is beneficial. Does your employee break room become the repository for abandoned sweets? Why dump unwanted calories on your colleagues? Donating to organizations that serve populations that already struggle with access to healthy foods may not be a solution. Food banks need nutritious food, not empty calories from candy.
Save leftover chocolates to enjoy in portion-controlled servings throughout the year. Chop chocolate bars into small pieces, place in baggies and freeze for special treats throughout the year. Use these crunchy goodies as toppings for yogurt or add-ins to smoothies. You can add them to cookies or pumpkin or banana bread instead of chocolate chips. Make a custom trail mix by combining with dried fruit, pretzels, and nuts.
Be crafty with your leftover stash! Use hard candies to decorate a gingerbread house or make Christmas tree ornaments.
If you feel that no one would benefit from the extra Halloween candy and freezing isn't an option, then throw it out. It's a sunk cost. Think of all the Halloween candy calories you've avoided! And next year, either buy less candy or don't buy any at all.
Reviewed and updated on October 7, 2020 by Sue Heikkinen MS, RDN, CDCES
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