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Smarter choices for Halloween candy, cookies, and other goodies.

All those miniature candy bars lining the Halloween candy section of your local store look so harmless. But will the calories from that candy come back to haunt your waistline in the weeks ahead?

Candy in general is a big trigger for overindulgence, says Jayme Albin, MA, PhD, a cognitive-behavior therapist in private practice. Not only that, but our cravings for carbohydrates tend to increase as the weather gets colder and daylight hours get shorter. These two factors align at this time of year to make Halloween the perfect storm for calorie overload.

As any true candy-craver knows, trying to pass up Halloween candy completely may only make you want it more. But if you enjoy favorite treats in moderation every day leading up to the holiday, you may be less likely to overdo it when you're nose-to-nose with that big bowl of goodies on Halloween night.

"Repeatedly behaving in moderation practices self-control around the stimulus and also encourages mindfulness,” says Albin, who believes that for many people mindfulness (being fully aware of what you're eating while you're eating it) is the secret to managing food cravings.

Lower-Calorie Halloween Treats

And when you're buying Halloween candy or other treats for your controlled indulgences, keep in mind some choices are better than others. Here are some lower-calorie candy and treat choices that will still satisfy your particular cravings.

INSTEAD OF: Chewy candy like Dots (150 calories and 22 grams sugar in two mini-boxes) and Fruit Gushers (90 calories and 12 grams sugar per pouch) …

CHOOSE: A chewy treat that has no calories or is naturally sweet.Try a piece of Ice Breakers gum (with no fat, calories, or sugar) or a mini-box of raisins (45 calories, 0 grams fat, 10 grams naturally occurring sugars).

INSTEAD OF: Chocolate bars with high-calorie caramel and peanut butter added, like Take 5 bars (105 calories, 5.5 grams of fat and 9 grams of sugar per fun-size bar) …

CHOOSE: Chocolate treats with something low-calorie added (like puffy grains). Try mini Quaker Chewy Granola Bars (60 calories, 2 grams fat, and 4 grams sugar per bar) or fun-size Nestle Crunch Bars (60 calories, 3 grams fat, 7 grams sugar).

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