updated 10/26/2010 8:46:39 AM ET 2010-10-26T12:46:39

SAN DIEGO, Oct. 26, 2010 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- For many people, the scariest part of every Halloween is not a visit from ghouls and ghosts, but the chocolaty temptation of crunchy candy bars and sweet treats that surround us in stores, at work - even in our own homes. And sometimes it can be just too hard to resist. In fact, the average American will spend more than $20 on candy treats this Halloween, according to the National Retail Federation's 2010 Halloween Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey.

Halloween is the first in a series of upcoming national holidays celebrating sweet treats. To help people maintain a healthy weight over the fall and winter months, Healthyroads, the wellness subsidiary of health and wellness company American Specialty Health (ASH), offers the following advice:

  1. If you can't avoid it, replace it! Try chewing on some sugarless gum instead of chocolate if you have a sweet tooth. Other great healthy Halloween treats include pretzels, low-fat popcorn balls, low-fat fig bars, and sugar-free hot cocoa or hot apple cider. If you MUST have chocolate, opt for dark chocolate, which at least contains healthy antioxidants. Just don't eat too much!

  2. Don't tempt yourself by keeping candy around the house. If you are expecting costumed kids to come knocking at your door, don't be afraid to hand out candy alternatives, such as glow bracelets, stickers, temporary tattoos, face paints, crayons and markers, or fun silly string. You'll help keep your neighborhood healthier, too!

  3. Stay full. Eating regular, healthy meals that are high in fiber and protein can help you avoid temptation at parties or events.

  4. Set limits. If you have to have your candy, limit yourself to just two small treats per day maximum.

  5. Walk! It's a gorgeous time of the year in most places of the country. Soak up the brisk and beautiful weather while you burn calories and strengthen your legs.
     
  6. Snap out of it! When you experience a craving, call a friend or health coach who will reinforce your weight or health goals. Post your long-term weight or diet goals on the refrigerator door, or a photo of something you plan to give yourself as a reward for maintaining a healthy weight. Many employers offer access to a wellness program website you can use to stay positive, strong, and committed to your goals. Talk to your Human Resources department to see if you have this benefit available to you.

Don't get spooked by Halloween health fears this year. Follow these tips, and you won't have to worry about Halloween weight gain haunting your family.

About American Specialty Health

American Specialty Health Incorporated (ASH) is a national health and wellness company that provides prevention and wellness services, specialty network management programs, and fitness and exercise services to health plans, insurance carriers, employer groups, and trust funds. Based in San Diego, ASH has more than 700 employees and covers over 17.9 million members.

For more information about the products and services offered by ASH and its subsidiaries, visit www.ASHCompanies.com or call (800) 848-3555. Follow us at Twitter.com/ASHCompanies and Twitter.com/Healthyroads.

References:

Bawa, S. (2005). The role of the consumption of beverages in the obesity epidemic. Journal of the Royal Society of Health, 125(3), 124–128.

BIGresearch. (2010). Consumer intentions & actions: Survey, Sept-10. Retrieved October 20, 2010, from http://www.nrf.com/modules.php?name=News&op=viewlive&sp_id=1003

Diousse, L., Hopkins, P. N., North, K. E., Pankow, J. S., Arnett, D. K., & Ellison, R. C. (2010). Chocolate consumption is inversely association with prevalent coronary heart disease: The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Family Heart Study. Clinical Nutrition. [Epub ahead of print.]

Duffy, V. B., & Anderson, G. H. (2004). Position of The American Dietetic Association: Use of nutritive and nonnutritive sweeteners. The Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 104(2), 255-275.

Hooper, L., Kroon, P. A., Rimm, E. B., Cohn, J. S., Harvey, I., Le Cornu, K. A., et al. (2008). Flavonoids, flavonoid-rich foods, and cardiovascular risk: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.  American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,88(1), 38-50.

Mitka, M. (2009). AHA: Added sugar not so sweet. Journal of the American Medical Association, 302(16), 1741-1742.

Phelan, S., Wing, R. R., Raynor, H. A., Dibello, J., Nedeau, K., & Peng, W. (2008). Holiday weight management by successful weight losers and normal weight individuals. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 76(3), 442–448.

United States Department of Agriculture. (2005). Nutrition and your health: Dietary guidelines for Americans 2005 (6th ed.). Washington, DC: US Department of Agriculture and US Department of Health and Human Services.

United States Department of Health and Human Services. (2008). 2008 physical activity guidelines for Americans. Retrieved October 20, 2010, from http://www.health.gov/paguidelines/pdf/paguide.pdf

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