Guilt-free Halloween treats for your family

Oct 2, 2008 at 3:32 p.m. ET

Halloween is known for many things, but health food is definitely not one of them. Every year, children fill up sacks of candy while trick-or-treating while adults can't help but grab handfuls of candy out of their own candy bowls. Even worse, Halloween parties are frighteningly full of decadent Halloween-themed desserts. It is no wonder that the end of the year holiday weight gain starts with Halloween! Instead of succumbing to the typical seasonal sweets, opt for ghoulish treats that are tasty - and guilt-free. Your kids and your waist will thank you.

Halloween Candy

Halloween health terror

The biggest health concern on Halloween is that kids (as well as adults) tend to amass a large amount of candy and other sweets, then eat them in a short period of time.

The treats come from school, neighbors, co-workers and even home. Keeping track of how many goodies you and your children eat is difficult, especially since most treats are eaten without thinking. It becomes a problem with kids because they often eat candy in place of their regular healthy meals.

According to Jessica Gilo, a graduate of the Syracuse University nutrition and dietetics program, part of the problem is the tradition of Halloween. "…the underlying cultural purpose of Halloween is for children to obtain as much candy and treats as possible in one night… it is the acceptable behavior and norm for that specific holiday."

Watching what your children eat on a normal day is challenging, let alone keeping track of them on a holiday centered around lollipops and chocolate.

Finding balance amid the Halloween treats

Jennifer Loden knows the challenges a working mother faces around Halloween. One method that has worked for her is using the candy as a reward for finishing a healthy meal. She says, "Three balanced meals a day with fruits and veggies … after they accomplish that, what's a better reward then a cookie or piece of candy?"

Many parents use methods like this to allow their children small amounts of candy from their treat bag after a balanced meal. This ensures their children get the nutrients they need while helping them to understand the concept of moderation and portion control.

The same principal can be applied to adults. Sure it's easy to mindlessly grab a mini-candybar or a small box of malted milk balls when bowls of candy at work, home or school are aplenty, but the calories of those small treats add up.

The best way to avoid a button-busting fright is to be mindful of your sweets intake and make a deal with yourself that you won't eat a piece of candy unless you've eaten a healthy balanced meal beforehand. In addition, make a second commitment to stop at one or two pieces.

Another great way to have a healthier Halloween is by making your own sweet treats that offer more nutrition than the usual trick-or-treat fare. Here are some guilt-free ghoulish treats that are good for you and good for your family.

Next up? Healthy rave-worthy Halloween recipes

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