Saturday, October 17, 2009

Don't Let Halloween Do Your Diet In

Exercise physiologist and certified personal trainer Bob Greene has helped millions of people slim down, most recently with his online program TheBestLife.com. The best-selling author shares the sure-fire strategies for losing weight, protecting your health and living your best life.

halloween candy Photo: Corbis
For many people, the giant plastic pumpkin filled with tempting treats is what's most frightening about Halloween. Sure, the goodies are supposed to be for the trick-or-treaters, but many of us find ourselves dipping into the candy bowl to satisfy our sweet tooth. This year, instead of being haunted by this diet derailer, use my simple strategies to conquer candy cravings.

Buy late. Avoid stocking up on Halloween candy ahead of time, even if it's on sale. Giant bags of sweets sitting on your table or in your cabinet several days or even weeks before the big day is way too tempting. Head to the store next week, or even the day before, and buy only as much as you think you'll need.

Be picky. When shopping for Halloween candy, choose sweets you don't like. If you can't fight your love of chocolate, opt for Skittles or Sour Patch Kids instead of M&Ms and Hershey bars. That way, even if they're lying around, you're not tempted to dig in.

Give out other goodies.
The neighborhood kid may not agree, but you don't have to give out candy on Halloween. Healthier treats, like packaged pretzels or dried fruit, are good alternatives. You can even opt for non-food goodies, such as pencils or stickers.

Go trick-or-treating. Head outside with your kids for a walk around the neighborhood. You'll burn off some calories and get a break from the candy bowl.

Lighten your load. If you notice you have a lot of candy left in your bowl towards the end of the night, start giving out more generous portions to the trick-or-treaters. Your ultimate goal is to end the day with an empty bowl -- without you having to eat any of it!

Eat before you go out. If you're heading to a Halloween party, be sure to have a healthy meal or snack beforehand. A piece of fruit and part-skim string cheese, or even peanut butter and jelly on whole-wheat bread, are both good choices. That way, you'll keep your appetite in check, which will make it less likely that you'll give into the treats at the party.

Share leftovers. If you do have any candy left over afterward, bring it into work and share with co-workers.

Indulge wisely. It's OK to allow yourself to enjoy a little candy -- just be sure you do so carefully. For instance, pay attention to portion sizes. Mini-sized candies can be a good choice as long as you can cut yourself off after one or two. If not, you might want to opt for hard candies or lollipops because they're lower in calories and they last longer.