Chocolate and candy have long been a special and fun part of winter holidays and family traditions. Keep these tips in mind to help your family stay safe and maintain balance while enjoying treats during the holidays.

Understand Candy Portions

Most people in the U.S. enjoy chocolate and candy 2-3 times per week, averaging about 40 calories per day and about one teaspoon of added sugar per day from confectionery items. During the holidays, look for your favorite treats in package sizes of 200 calories or less.

Make a Plan

During the winter holiday season, treats take center stage. Whether you’ll be sharing a meal with your family, joining a virtual Happy Hour, or exchanging gifts via Zoom, think about when and how you want to treat yourself, so you are not faced with making on-the-spot decisions. You can also prepare for your safe holiday events by choosing a lighter lunch or incorporating a brisk walk into your day.

Follow Guidelines from Federal, State and Local Health Authorities

Staying safe should be a priority during the winter holidays. Follow the recommendations from health authorities, and if you decide to have a socially distant celebration with others, wear a mask and wash your hands frequently.

Celebrate with Candy in Different Ways

Remember that there are many ways to enjoy chocolate and candy – from decorating gingerbread houses and discovering sweets in an Advent calendar to playing a game of dreidel or hanging candy canes on the tree.

Model Good Behavior

Parents often use holidays as an opportunity to talk to their children about the importance of balance. Talk to your children about how to enjoy treats as a fun and unique part of a happy, balanced lifestyle.

Mint Is the Flavor of the Season

Mints and sugar-free gum are great ways to enjoy a little wintery freshness during the holiday season. These little treats typically contain only 5-10 calories each and might help you curb your desire to sample an additional appetizer or glass of wine! Plus, a recent poll of Americans found that mints are the preferred go-to solution for eliminating “mask breath” by 40 percent of people (though, 38 percent choose gum and 22 percent opt for hard candy).

Don’t Forget the Chocolate

Not only are chocolate and cocoa products some of the tastiest holiday treats – they may also play a special role in the diet. Some types of dark chocolate and cocoa contain antioxidants called flavanols, which studies suggest may promote heart health.

Stay Active with Fun Winter Activities

Be sure to maintain your exercise routine around the holidays. Outdoor activities – like ice skating, skiing and sledding – are easy ways to incorporate exercise into your holiday plans and also keep pandemic safety in mind.

Savor the Flavor

Slowing down and mindfully consuming chocolate and candy can help maximize enjoyment and reduce mindless overeating. This holiday season, focus on unique textures and flavors to help enhance your enjoyment of treats.

Don’t Prohibit Treats

Recent research suggests that restriction may increase your child’s desire for treats. The same goes for you! Overly emphasizing restriction of treats may also lead to overindulgence in adults, so look for smaller package sizes and front-of-pack calorie labels to help you make informed choices about how you treat during the holiday season.

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