Healthier Halloween requires moderation, creativity

By: Loryll Nicolaisen, Journal staff writer
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Headless horsemen and haunted houses aren’t the only spooky elements of Halloween. An overabundance of bite-sized candy bars and other seasonal sweets can be more of a trick than a treat, as far as your holiday health is concerned. Suzanne Gove, owner of ProActive Personal Training in Auburn, incorporates Halloween into her indoor bootcamp workouts. “We use pumpkins as we would a medicine ball,” she said. “It’s just to be creative and draw fun into fitness. Anyone can have fun with a pumpkin and hopefully it inspires them to go buy a medicine ball and continue to work out.” Women might want to use eight- to 10-pound pumpkins, while men should pick up a 10- to 15-pounder, Gove said. Gove suggests using a towel during the workout, as slippery hands and pumpkins don’t mix. The great thing about working out with a pumpkin is that you can carve it when you’re done, and pumpkin seeds make a great healthy snack, Gove said. Those healthy snacks can come in handy as the holiday season nears, with its huge meals, cocktail parties and rich desserts. “People often associate Thanksgiving (with weight gain), but the slide to overindulgence, it actually starts now, because it is so easy to pick up those snack-sized (candy) bars,” she said. Auburn dentist Dr. Donovan Browning said it’s not realistic to expect kids to stay away from candy on Halloween. He does, however, advise against gummy and hard candies. “The stickier the candy, the stickier the sugar and the harder it is to wash off,” he said. “The fewer sugars you have, and the less time they spend on your teeth, the better for you.” Dr. Teresa Isbell, who also practices dentistry in Auburn, has yet to figure out what she’ll hand out to trick-or-treaters this year, but one thing’s for certain — no candy. “Last year I did Play-Doh. It was fun because they were Halloween colors and they were different,” she said. “It wasn’t raisins and it wasn’t toothbrushes. It was something creative.” Catherine Nishikawa, a registered dietician and Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital nutrition and food services manager, said sugar-free gum, cheese sticks, small bags of pretzels or raisins, and small toys like stickers or plastic bugs make for great trick-or-treat favors. Nishikawa said parents should moderate what their children eat not only when they come home after trick-or-treating, but also in the days leading up to Halloween. “For older kids it might be a good idea to work out an agreement with them on when and how much candy they can eat,” she said. “For younger children it is a good idea to keep the candy in a location that is not accessible to them so that you are able to monitor what they consume.”