Make Halloween Less Scary For Your Diet


Halloween can be a scary holiday for grown-ups, but not because of the devilish decorations and haunted houses. For people who have been working hard to shed extra pounds, the holiday that celebrates the fun-size candy bar can be downright frightening.

What do experts suggest at Halloween time for people who are tempted by candy but trying to trim down?

Believe it or not, “I would recommend eating the chocolate mocha — will save about 500 calories. Forgoing a snack of 1 ounce of crackers and 1 ounce of cheese saves about 240 calories.

Ellyn Satter, RD, MS, LCSW, author of Your Child’s Weight: Helping Without Harming, says that what’s good for children may also be best for adults.

“Treat-deprived girls in research studies load up on forbidden foods when they weren’t even chocolate lover, give away Skittles or Twizzlers. This doesn’t mean all candy you give out has to be unappealing to you, but it might be easier if you buy just one type you like, in a limited quantity.

2. Give Out Nonfood ‘Treats’

Another option is to offer trick-or-treaters small toys, stickers, pencils, erasers — even shiny quarters — instead of candy.

In one study, 3- to 14-year-olds who were given a choice between toys and candy on Halloween night were just as likely to choose the toys as the sweets. Do your own experiment this Halloween: Let kids in your neighborhood choose between toys, money, or candy and see which is most popular.

3. Offer Healthier Treats

You can offer healthy foods to kids on Halloween, says Rebecca Puhl, PhD, psychologist and researcher at the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University.

“Not only does this give kids a healthy option in their bag of treats, it also prevents parents from having to bring lots of candy to the house,” she says in an email interview.

Some healthful options include granola bars, sugar-free gum, and individually packaged portions of raisins, apple slices, dried cranberries, and nuts.

4. Don’t Ask Your Kids to Hide the Candy

If you’re a parent, Halloween offers an opportunity to set a good example for your kids. Model moderation, not deprivation, nutrition experts recommend.

“We know restriction only makes people want it more,” says Barbara Rolls, PhD, a researcher at Penn State University and author of The digestive system quickly, so you’re likely to feel hungry again sooner.

Her ideal Halloween night dinner? “Roasted or baked skinless chicken breast, a plate of vegetables, and some fruit salad,” says Rolls.

9. Sip a Warm Beverage

Keep your hands and mouth busy while you hand out treats on Halloween night by sipping hot tea, decaf coffee, apple cider, or light hot cocoa. There’s something about a warm drink that satisfies.

10. Avoid Boredom

People often end up munching mindlessly when they’re bored. So keep busy Halloween night by making plans with family, friends, or neighbors.

Arrange a Halloween potluck, go trick-or-treating with the kids or grandkids, go to the movies, or attend a Halloween celebration at a local church or community center.

Or, just curl up with a cup of tea and a good, scary book.