Remember the big SnackWells craze of the 1990s? Consumers flocked to the lowfat or nonfat cookies until they realized (and nutritionists noted) that when fat is subtracted from treats, sugar is usually added. You can have a lower percentage of fat or of sugar, but typically not both. Such is the dilemma with Easter candy.
Marshmallow Peeps have zero fat but are almost 90 percent sugar. My personal faves, Cadbury Crème Eggs, are about 150 calories a pop and 30 percent fat and are almost 60 percent sugar. Their cousins, Cadbury Caramel Eggs, at 170 calories each, have proportionately less sugar--38 percent--but are approaching 50 percent fat.
What's a candy lover to do? You can check out this excellent analysis of some common Easter treats by dietitian Melanie Douglass, who examines candy by its sugar, fat, and calorie content, and use it to guide your choices. As a rule of thumb, the more chocolate involved, the more fat, sugar, and calories. That's why chocolate bunnies, whether hollow or solid, are high on her offender lists. Her "best choices" list includes candy that includes a little bit of chocolate but also some less-caloric filler (marshmallow bunny, Cadbury Crème Egg), or that is mostly sugar (Peeps, Starbursts, fruit snacks). She also offers some alternatives to candy, including Tic-Tacs and apple juice, but that isn't going to do it for me or, I suspect, 99 percent of the candy-eating population.
My own approach is to assume that none of it is good for me and just focus on calories (which is, after all, what matters when it comes to weight gain or loss). I'll give myself a budget for the day, more or less stick to it, and take a run in the morning that will make up for at least some of the chocolate. Remember that, as with sticking to your diet on Super Bowl Sunday or any other special occasion that traditionally includes a lot of eating, it's not so much what you do one day but how often those "special occasions" come up.
To learn more about techniques you can use to avoid mindless eating, see "Can Mindful Eating Help You Lose Weight?"
(c) 2009 U.S. News & World Report
Eat that Easter candy wisely
Here come my peeps!
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