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October 19, 2010

Tricks to avoid calorie-heavy treats on Halloween

Each week a nutritionist from the University of Maryland Medical Center will provide a guest post on healthy eating. Have questions or ideas for future topics? Email This week, Amanda Tauber weighs in on avoiding Halloween pitfalls.

Halloween is one of those holidays where eating too many sweets is common. From the 200 Tootsie Pops to the 50 Snickers bars you and your children will collect, it's easy to see how the extra pounds and cavities can develop. Below are some tips to set you up for a healthier (but just as fun) Halloween season.

Eat ahead of time. Having a dinner or snack rich in complex carbohydrates, lean proteins and unsaturated fats can cut down on post holiday candy consumption. Some great options include peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with a glass of milk, whole grain pasta with vegetables and grilled/baked chicken, or tuna salad in whole wheat wraps.

Think small. Buy a little bucket for trick-or-treating. Lugging around a giant tub is not only impractical, but holds more candy that will likely get eaten. A smaller tub will save you the backache of having to carry it around and means less candy. Buy mini or "fun size" candy if possible. Buying smaller pieces can lead to eating less candy overall, plus most prepackaged bags of candy contain miniature or fun sizes.

Give it away. After a few days, bring in extra candy to work, parties, or other social gatherings. If this isn't an option, consider throwing some of the candy out. Many places also accept donations of unwrapped candy.

Hide the candy. By placing sweet treats in a high cabinet, kids can't reach it and you might be less likely to eat it, too. If you can't hide it, divide and conquer: portion the candy out. Keep a sandwich-size plastic bag as a designated "candy bag." Each day, put a few pieces of candy in the bag and have that be a daily sweet treat.

Buy healthier Halloween treats. Boxes of raisins, bags of pretzels, nuts, seeds, and popcorn are all healthier alternatives. If you must buy candy, some good choices are mini Tootsie Rolls (12 pieces/serving = 130 calories), 3 Musketeers fun size candy bars (1 piece = 63 calories), Tootsie Pop (1 pop = 60 calories); and if possible, choose dark over milk chocolate. Dove dark chocolate miniatures have 210 calories in 5 pieces and dark chocolate is a source of antioxidants. Also, look for 100 percent fruit snacks and 100 calorie packaged snacks.

Avoid it. Don't buy any candy at all. While not the most popular choices, baseball cards, gum, mini pumpkins, pencils, fun bracelets, etc. can be a fun break from the usual giveaway. Watch out for too many sugar-free candies. Eating a lot of these options can upset stomachs. Also, limit the sweet drinks. Since you know that you and your kids will most likely be eating candy, stick to water and milk and skip the juices and sodas that provide even more sugar.

Walk a lot. If you live in a small neighborhood, venture to another nearby locale. It's not only a great way to get some exercise, but you'll be able to meet more neighbors.

Learn more. Search the web for some healthy themed recipes. Websites like and Disney Family Fun have festive recipes that are sure to please everyone (try the Mummy-Face pizzas from

It's important to know that Halloween can not only be a fun time, but a healthy time as well. With a little preparation and creativity, it's an easy goal to achieve.

Posted by Kim Walker at 12:00 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Nutrition


Yay, Amanda! Great suggestions for anyone to use! Well-written!

Wow, some great ideas. How about handing out those silly banz as another option?

Oh my gosh, I'm so proud of you!

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Andrea Siegel, a reporter at The Baltimore Sun, covers mostly crime and courts in Annapolis and Anne Arundel County, as well as legal issues. She wishes she was more physically fit, and, as she's more fond of chocolate than exercise, fitness is a challenge. Her partner on a one-mile-plus daily walk is the family dog, a mixed breed named Moxie, and she exercises at the gym where the D.C. snipers once worked out.
Jerry Jackson has been a photo editor at The Baltimore Sun for 14 years and an avid cyclist for more than 30 years. Inspired by the movie "Breaking Away," he started racing as a teenager in Mississippi when leather "brain baskets" were still the norm. He regularly commutes to work by bike and still enters several mountain bike races a year for fun.
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Patrick Maynard, who will be writing about running and walking, has been a producer for since 2008. In 2009, he tweeted on-course for the Sun from the Baltimore Marathon, finishing in just under 4 hours and almost managing to run the whole time. He sometimes walks to the Sun offices on Calvert Street.
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Leeann Adams, a multimedia editor at The Baltimore Sun, also dabbles in content for the mobile website and iPhone app and covers the Ravens via video. She did a triathlon to celebrate her 40th birthday and continues to swim, bike and run -- none of them quickly, though. Her biggest fitness challenge is to balance working, working out, spending time with her husband and being a mom to a 6-year-old boy.
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Anica Butler, the Sun's crime editor, is a former high school runner and recovering vegetarian who spent more of her early-adult years on a bar stool than working out. She is currently training (though poorly) for a half marathon and is trying to live a generally healthier lifestyle. She also hates the gym.
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