Healthy Hauntings

Candy for days… sugary treats… the complete undoing of long, hard work… scared yet?

Halloween can be frightening for more reasons than just your run of the mill ghosts and goblins. It seems like this is one holiday dedicated entirely to munchie mania and a cavalcade of candy. But no need to be freaked out about the fright fest. A boo-tiful game plan is all you need to get a handle on the sugar spook-fest.

Trick-or-Treat Tips

Treats can be tricky during the Halloween season, not just because the name of the game is all about scoring the most treats, but also because it just so happens to come right around the first time in a long time that you can even bear to have your oven on. It can definitely be tempting to scare up all kinds of snacks with the kiddos, but seven vampire bat bites, three candy corn cupcakes and one large glass of pumpkin punch later and you’ve overdone it. But don’t cut out the festivities completely! Instead of spending fabulous fall afternoons baking up treats, work on some projects that don’t finish with a flourish – or two – of icing. Also, running around an apple orchard for a day is a great workout – just don’t turn your spoils into pies and crumbles at the end of it!

As for the big night, the fewer houses you hit, the less haul you bring home. Offer to host a get-together before or after trick-or-treating and hit only half the houses, but keep the fun going.

Fearsome Fun, Not Food

For this particular party, it’s important to have a few activities in mind or else the attention will quickly turn to back to the treats. Working in dinner is good so you can plan for at least one portion of the night’s goodies. One idea that covers both the dinner plan and the game plan is “make your own” mini pizzas. A few whole-wheat English muffins, low fat cheese and heaps of veggie toppings, and you’ve got dinner for all of your little ghouls to gobble on. The bites are large enough for dinner but manageable enough for all kinds of costumes, and a few olives, green peppers and mushroom slices later you’ve got a cool “make your own monster” contest.

For dessert, 100 calorie pudding cups, crumbled chocolate wafers and a vanilla cookie transform into single-serve sweets. Write “RIP” plus everyone’s initials on theirs with an icing pen (preferably chocolate icing so as to avoid synthetic food coloring), and these great graveyards will leave no tombstone unturned when it comes to the night’s menu. Later, pop in an all-ages movie (think “Hocus Pocus,” “Harry Potter” or “The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown,”) or even fill a piñata with plastic fangs, spider rings and school supplies for non-edible Halloween treats, and the adults can enjoy the eerie quiet to wine-d down.

Candy Conundrum

It’d be freakishly foolish to assume you can stay away from the candy entirely and that’s totally okay! Just keep it to 200 calories or less. You can also eat especially well during the week and let the night be your one off night – but don’t go into the party or trick-or-treating ravenous! Eat a good dinner and even try to have a good day leading up to your indulgent evening. The good thing about this holiday’s haul is the size of the candy means you can get a lot for those 200 calories! For 200 calories or less, you can pick two options from the below list (each option listed below is approximately 100 calories or less). For example, 13 pieces of candy corn and 6 dots will clock in at about 200 calories.

  • 13 pieces of candy corn
  • 13 Swedish Fish
  • 6 Dots
  • 5 Hershey Kisses
  • 4 Starbursts
  • 3 Twizzlers
  • 2 Hershey miniature chocolates
  • 1 mini serving size pack of peanut M&M’s, regular M&M’s, or Skittles
  • 1 lollipop

While it’s your calories and you can use ‘em how you want to, good choices are lollipops (which take a while to savor) or individually wrapped Twizzlers, which obviously need to be unwrapped one by one and also will take you a little longer to eat. But your best bet could be grabbing one or two individual-serving “fun size” candy packages. For example:

  • 2 Starburst individual “fun size” serving packs (4 individually wrapped Starburst candies) = 80 calories
  • 1 individual “fun size” serving pack of Peanut M&M’s = 90 calories
  • 1 individual “fun size” serving pack of Skittles = 60 calories.

It’ll spare you the counting and you’ll be able to walk away from the bowl instead of going back for “just one more.”  Also remember, Halloween is ONE day – that tempting bowl of candy might be haunting your house for awhile but try and stick to indulging just on the actual day.

With the actual loot your little one brings home, try and get half of it out of the house. Even if you bring a bowl to the office reception area, at least the sugary stuff will get dispersed and probably eaten a lot faster. Or if you can trust yourself to keep it in the house, package it up in take out containers and send your next dinner party guests out the door with a little treat sans any tricks.

The kinds of candy that you should really beware of? Those sour kinds that most of us know and love so well. Studies have shown this kind has the ability to erode and soften teeth – just like acidic foods. Bad news for kids whose teeth are just starting to get stronger. Also candies with tons of synthetic food dyes. The safety of these dyes is questionable and can potentially have damaging results. So stay away from it as best you can.

You shouldn’t let anything get in the way of happy – and healthy – hauntings!

Heather Bauer, RD CDN
Heather Bauer, RD CDN


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