A Healthy Halloween? Yes, It’s Possible
Young or old, everyone delights in finding their favorite snack during the Halloween season. But as adults, we know that too much of the sweet stuff isn’t always in the best interests of our health.
Here’s the good news: Just because we’re grown-ups doesn’t mean we have to give up the spoils of the season. In fact, following a few simple rules can allow young and young-at-heart alike to have their candy and eat it, too.
Halloween is the perfect time to remind ourselves (and any youngsters) that if we are going to indulge in sugary sweets, it’s best to eat them in moderation. “We all know it’s not just the kids that enjoy the rewards of trick-or-treating,” says Stephanie Perez, RD, retail dietitian supervisor at ShopRite. So what’s a die-hard trick-or-treater to do? “Candy is fine as a treat once in a while,” says Perez. “But consuming large amounts can lead to weight gain in the long term.”
Perez suggests filling a candy bowl with healthier candy options, such as mini-dark chocolate bars for their antioxidant powers, as well as snack-size peanut chocolates for their protein and fiber content. Low-fat candies, such as licorice and lollipops, are also better choices. “The pops take longer to eat, so you’re more likely to have only one,” says Perez.
To balance sweet treats with healthier options, throw some mini boxes of raisins, as well as single-serve portions of pretzels or popcorn, into the Halloween mix. Pudding pouches and squeezable applesauce containers are also wise choices that kids will enjoy. Single-serve packets of cocoa-dusted almonds are another smart snacking option. Some parents, especially those whose children have severe allergies or other health concerns, can choose to make their own candies or host candy craft parties instead of letting their kids go door-to-door, or these days, store-to-store. “When you make the candy, you control the ingredients,” Perez says, noting the benefits of substituting dark chocolate for milk chocolate and experimenting with less sugar.
“It’s true that miniature candy bars have fewer calories and less sugar,” says Perez. “But if you don’t exercise self-control when you eat them, you’re negating the benefits of snack-size packaging.” If all else fails, Perez suggests that parents lacking willpower should buy varieties they don’t enjoy. Of course, the kids will always bring something home that’s worth sampling, so the next best option is to keep the Halloween loot in a closed container in the cupboard, rather than an open dish on the counter.
“You can always crumble some of the candy bars and freeze them for long-term use,” Perez says. “The crumbles are perfect for yogurt or cupcake toppings. Or, the remaining bars can be pulled out of the freezer and put straight into the lunchbox until your stash runs out.”
Marla Camins is a member of ShopRite’s corporate Health and Wellness team. For more information, dieticians are available at local ShopRite stores, or visit ShopRite.com.Edit ModuleShow Tags