How much Halloween candy is too much?

MICHELE MEMMO, MS RD :::

It seems like the “candy holidays” like Halloween are putting the goods out earlier with each passing year, tempting us to buy them way before the day is here.

Even though most of the kids love to dress up, they are really looking forward to getting bags of candy. Many parents actually dread this season because of all the calories from the Halloween treats and the inability to control their kids’ (and their own) urges.

Halloween is the beginning of the year where most Americans see it as the “feasting season.”  This means people have several excuses for eating more or not paying attention to what they are eating through the holidays.

If you are like 60 percent of families who are overweight in America, you’re looking to keep your weight in check or even start the New Year’s Resolution early to lose a few pounds… by eating only the fun-size candy bars, right? If that is you’re plan you might want to reconsider if your treats are tricking you this season.

We all want our kids to have fun, but parents still recognize that they should be in charge of deciding how much candy the kids and other family members can have during Halloween.  An important lesson to teach kids this holiday season would be to eat the treats in moderation. When kids come back from the candy round-up, parents should go through the load of candy, portion them out according to size any type, to help save for upcoming weeks and even months. If needed, freezing some of the chocolate treats can help control cravings and make you forget they are there, which will allow you to come enjoy them later.

Parents should also feel free to eliminate very high in calorie candy, especially ones with trans fats and high fructose corn syrup content. Miniature-sized candies are great alternatives for Halloween, but could scare up high calorie and carbohydrate counts if parents don’t monitor how many children eat.  Ω

Healthy alternatives to candy:

Fruit-based “leathers” or “squeezers” often have kid appeal and come in leathers, ropes and squeezable pouches. They are all good as long as they don’t have any added sugars in the ingredients. A good brand is Fruit Squeezers by Nature’s Child that features kid cartoons on each package and are made from 100 percent fruit. Each pouch is 60 calories, is a good source of vitamin C and counts as a fruit serving.

Mini packets of jelly beans are a great option because they can satisfy a sweet tooth without as many calories as all the chocolate candies. One brand that makes the mini packets are Jelly Belly’s Kids Mix includes beans flavors that children love, like watermelon, very cherry, sour apple and bubble gum. Each mini packet has just 28 calories.

Pint-size nut packets are a great snack to keep kids tummies satisfied with all the fiber and protein. Since nuts are high in calories, look for the single serving packages that keep calories in check. For example, a one ounce pack of pistachios has 80 calories, 3 grams protein and 2 grams fiber and kids can have fun cracking them open.

Pint size raisin boxes have just 45 calories, no added sugar and are fat free. What’s more, a recent University of Toronto study found kids reported feeling fuller and ate fewer calories at their next meal when they snacked on raisins compared to other snacks.

 

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