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Make Halloween Less Scary For Your Diet

10 tips to help you conquer candy cravings and enjoy the holiday.
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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," says David Levitsky, PhD, a professor of nutrition and psychology at Cornell University.

"There are several reasons for this, but the major one is that if you tell yourself that you can't have it, you'll crave it," he says in an email interview.

Five fun-size Snickers adds up to 400 calories, which you could make up the next day by skipping a drink, snack, or dessert, suggests Levitsky. For example, skipping your usual flavored coffee drink -- say, a 16-ounce white 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 hungry and tend to be fatter, not thinner," she says. "Girls who were allowed treats regularly ate moderately, if at all, and were thinner."

What about those people who have a hard time stopping at just a few fun-size candy bars?

Satter believes this vulnerability to overeating results from people restricting themselves. The only way to break the cycle of deprivation and overeating, she says, is to:

  • Stop depriving yourself.
  • Eat three meals a day (meals you truly enjoy).
  • Stop eating when you are comfortable, knowing that you'll have another enjoyable meal when you're hungry again.


10 More Ways to Make Halloween Less Scary

Besides making sure you don't feel deprived, nutrition experts offer 10 more tips to help keep you from overdoing the sweets this Halloween season.

1. Buy Candy You're Not Crazy About

For example, if you're a 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.

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