Halloween is full of gorgeous colors, rich flavors and tasty traditions. But the fat and added sugar content of many candy treats can make this holiday hard on our bodies.
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This year, commit to a plan that balances treats and health in a creative way. Whether trick-or-treating with your kids or celebrating at a costume bash with friends, you’ll benefit from these treats and tricks.
Here are four treat tips that won’t break your diet:
1. Good things in small packages
Go for small portions with big flavors, such as peppermint and dark chocolate. Buying smaller candy pieces will help you limit yourself and your children. You want a touch of sweet celebration without the temptation of a king-sized candy bar.
2. Don’t be afraid of the dark
Choose high-antioxidant, 70 percent or higher dark chocolate treats. New research published in the journal Chemistry Central Journal demonstrates that chocolate is a rich source of antioxidants and contains even more polyphenols and flavanols than fruit juice. Flavonoids are known to protect the body’s cells from damage — and even a 1–2 ounce serving brings benefits.
3. Make it last
Not into chocolate? Most hard candies have fewer calories than chocolate. But lollipop lovers still need to exercise portion control because of high sugar content. Choose treats that are hard but small, allowing you to savor them for a while.
4. Be label-conscious
This tip for grocery shopping applies to Halloween treats, too. Candy is a non-nutritious splurge, but the ingredients still matter. For example, try to avoid partially hydrogenated oils—a sign that your candy has trans fat. When comparing two candies, the one with the least number of ingredients is usually the better choice.
These four tricks will help you enjoy the holiday without frightening results:
1. Buy what you don’t love
I know what you’re thinking: “That doesn’t sound right.” But when buying candy to hand out at Halloween, one of the best tricks is to stay away from treats you’re likely to tear into before the kids start ringing your doorbell.
2. Make post-holiday rules as a family
This might include a prearranged agreement to ration candy for your kiddos. For example: Everyone picks a few favorites to eat on Halloween, then stashes the rest out of sight. Kids will be surprised when they get treats in their lunchboxes or find crumbles of candy in their afterschool trail mix.
3. Set an expiration date
Don’t let your candy linger from Halloween until Valentine’s Day. Set your own expiration date, such as seven days after the holiday. You can throw it out or consider donating it to a food pantry or organization that sends treats to troops overseas.
4. Brush your pearly whites
Be sure to brush your teeth after indulging in Halloween candy to avoid cavities. This goes for your little ones, too. Although “baby teeth” are eventually replaced, cavities in these temporary teeth can affect a child’s health for the rest of his or her life.