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Happy Halloween: Best, Worst Candy
by ShaunaS

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   (65 votes)

We’ve officially kicked off the candy-themed holidays with a big bang – Halloween! If you’re scared by the candy invading your home, office, school and every business you walk into, I understand!

It can be hard to stick with a healthy eating plan when candy is staring you down everywhere you turn.

While it may seem impossible to keep your hand out of the candy jar, it’s not impossible. Read on for some tips on sticking with your plan and which candies are not so spooky.

13 Spook-tacular Tips
• Buy candy the day before Halloween and buy only what you need.

• If you buy candy - buy something you do not like or try lollipops (they are harder to overindulge in!).

• Discard leftovers or donate leftovers to your local church, charity or neighbors and set a specific date to rid of candy.

• Don’t shop for candy when you are hungry.

• Try to give away all of the candy you bought – a good deal for late trick or treaters!

• Try non-food treats such as stickers, pencils, erasers, bracelets or plastic spiders.

• Try healthier treats such as 100-calories packs (crackers, cookies or fruit snacks), juice boxes, microwave popcorn, mini boxes of raisins, sugarless gum, mini packs of baby carrots or peanuts.

• Vow to keep a munch log and record every innocent treat you eat!

• Read the nutrition facts before you empty the bag and throw it away.

• Plan a treat into your day but try to keep it under 150 calories. You can use this as a substitution for your normal treat.

• Vow to walk 10-minutes for every extra treat that you eat.

• Follow the same rules your kids follow – you probably don’t let them indulge in Halloween candy whenever they want!

• Make your dentist proud and brush your teeth after each treat – this will also help signal that you are done with the treats.

Some candy facts are downright scary and others not so much – take a look at my top 5 best and worst picks.

Say no to these candies in the jack-o-lantern (these “snack” sized treats can easily add up to more than a regular candy bar!):

1. Snack Size Twizzlers: 130 calories
2. Snack Size Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup: 110 calories
3. Snack Size Butterfinger: 100 calories
4. Fun Size M&M’s: 100 calories
5. Snack Size Milky Way: 90 calories

Say yes to these candies in the jack-o-lantern in moderation (remember, just because they’re little doesn’t mean they don’t add up!)

1. Mini Tootsie Roll: 13 calories
2. Reese’s Mini Cup: 35 calories
3. Treat Size Box Milk Duds: 40 calories
4. Miniature Box Raisins: 45 calories
5. Treat Size SweetTarts: 50 calories

Have a lot of trick and a little treat this Halloween!

Shauna Schultz, RD

October 31, 2008


Happy Gluten-Free Halloween!
by TriciaThompsonMS/RD

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   (63 votes)

Halloween is just a few days away and the excitement certainly is growing in my house. But if you have a child who can’t eat gluten you probably are less than thrilled with this holiday.

How do you let them eat candy and make sure it is gluten free, especially when the little mini versions available at Halloween generally do not contain ingredient lists?

You could always forgo trick-or-treating altogether and have a Halloween party instead. If this is considered a “no fun” option in your house than hopefully the following tips will help.

If you haven’t done so already, plan to spend some time at the store parked in front of the Halloween candy display reading ingredient lists. Write down the names of those candies that do not contain any gluten ingredients.

Many candy manufacturers include allergen information on their packaging. However, some allergen information is more helpful than others.

Smarties candy, manufactured by the Ce De Candy Company, states the following on their label, “Smarties contain none of the following common allergens: gluten (from wheat, barley, oats, and rye), milk, egg, fish, Crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, wheat, peanuts, or soybeans.” Now that is what I call helpful allergen labeling!! I will buy this candy just for this statement alone.

If the bags of candy you pick up do not contain all of this helpful information and you are concerned about allergens and cross contact, go online to manufacturer websites to see if they have any information available on allergens and gluten. You can also call manufacturers to discuss their quality control procedures.

There are lists of candy made without gluten-containing ingredients available on line. Google gluten-free Halloween candy and several sites will come up. You will have to judge for yourself how reliable you think the information is.

Make sure your child is aware of what candy you decide is gluten free and safe for them to eat. That way when presented with a choice and allowed to choose their own piece of candy, they will choose a gluten-free variety.

If you are friends with some of the families in the areas where you will be trick-or-treating, give them a list of gluten-free candy or provide them with candy yourself. This way your child is guaranteed a gluten-free option from at least some of the houses they visit.

In fact, this is a strategy followed by the Roberts family, a family of five with celiac disease and multiple food allergies.

Mom Jane says, “In the past I have prepared for trick-or-treating by planning ahead. I made 10 Ziploc bags of candies for each of my kids and delivered them to my neighbors with a note asking them to give these to our children on Halloween night. That way, I knew for sure the kids would get at least some candy they could eat.

"Afterward, the children of some of those parents were willing to do a "candy trade" for the candies that weren't safe that my kids received at other houses. It worked out great! I was amazed how willing people were to help out the next year and actually asked what kind of candy was safe for my children. What a treat!”

This may seem like a no-brainer but, just in case, make sure the candy you buy to give out Halloween night is gluten free. Buy extra so that your child can “trade” the gluten-containing candy they receive for the gluten-free candy you are handing out. Kids (at least mine and it looks like Jane’s too) love to trade candy.

Let your child exchange their gluten-containing candy for a toy. We have been exchanging candy for a toy in my house for years simply because I didn’t want my son eating too much candy!

Hopefully some of these tips are useful and will help make Halloween a little less stressful for you!

Tricia Thompson, M.S., RD is a nutrition consultant, author and speaker specializing in celiac disease and the gluten-free diet. She is the author of The Gluten-Free Nutrition Guide (McGraw-Hill) and co-author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Gluten-Free Eating (Penguin Group). For more information, visit

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For a copy of The Gluten-Free Nutrition Guide click here.

October 28, 2008


Fairs, Carnivals 'n Food: The Scariest Stuff
by ShaunaS

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   (27 votes)

It's fair time! This brings me back to my hometown when the anticipation of the second week of August was building and that meant the county fair was approaching.

I can still smell those yummy fair foods and feel the thrill of the rides. I love fair time! If you are a carnival lover, read on and learn how to navigate the food court.

If you are headed to your local or state fair with family and friends, you’re likely to be tempted by the numerous fried options that smell delicious upon passing by.

While an occasional splurge won’t put a stall in your healthy effort, continually indulging may.

We’ve put together a list of fair DON'Ts and fair DOs to help you navigate the stretch of food vendors.

Carnival Walk of Shame & Fame

Choose these cautiously – fried anything is popular at fairs! You may even see those Krispy Kreme sandwiches make an appearance! Take a look and compare the calories with how much walking it would take to burn off the calories eaten – which might make you reconsider.

--Krispy Kreme Bacon Cheese Burger: 1,000 calories and 45 grams fat. It would take almost 5 hours of walking to burn this off.

--Fried Onion Blossom: 1320 calories and 72 grams fat! It would take 4 hours and 25 minutes of walking to burn this off.

--Nachos and Cheese: 861 calories and 59 grams fat. It would take 2 hours and 55 minutes of walking to burn this off.

--Funnel Cake: 760 calories and 44 grams fat. It would take 2 hours and 50 minutes of walking to burn this off.

--Pizza: more like colossal sized slice at 667 calories and 24 grams fat. It would take 3 hours of walking to burn this off.

--Curly Fries: 620 calories and 30 g fat. It would take 2 hours and 10 minutes of walking to burn this off.

--Fried Mushrooms with Ranch Dressing: 560 calories and 40 grams fat. It would take 1 hour and 50 minutes of walking to burn this off.

--Fried Twinkies: 420 calories and 34 grams fat. It would take 1 hour and 25 minutes of walking to burn this off.

--Fried Snickers: 444 calories and 29 grams fat. It would take 1 hour and 30 minutes of walking to burn this off.

-- Caramel Apple: 298 calories and 1 g fat. It would take you 1 hour and 22 minutes of walking to burn this off. Bring a real apple instead!

Walk of Fame (well…almost!)

These picks still let you indulge but won’t break the bank! You can easily plan these into your day. Take your pedometer along too for extra fair walking encouragement.

--Cotton Candy: 171 calories and 0 grams of fat. It would take 35 minutes of walking to burn this off.

--Chocolate Covered Frozen Banana: 240 calories and 4 grams of fat (plus a fruit serving!). It would take 50 minutes of walking to burn this off.

--Corn on the Cob (without butter): 180 calories and 2 grams fat. It would take 55 minutes of walking to burn this off.

--Chicken Taco: 210 calories and 12 grams fat. It would take 58 minutes of walking to burn this off.

--Chili: 280 calories and 11 g fat. It would take 1 hour and 17 minutes of walking to burn this off.

--Soft Pretzel: 340 calories and 2 g fat. It would take 1 hour and 34 minutes of walking to burn this off.

Eat Right Fair Tips

--Know your choices. Walk around the food court to evaluate your choices.

--Will you be visiting the fair multiple times? Limit yourself to one true splurge.

--Have a snack before you go. Try a protein-carb combo and the treats will be a little less tempting!

--Share higher calorie treats with a friend.

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August 7, 2008


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