When It Comes to Sweets, Never Say Never

Even Candy Can Be Healthy -- in Moderation

By Jean Lawrence
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature

Reviewed By Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, LD

For some people, the scariest part of starting off on a new, healthier way of eating is the idea of giving up their favorite sweet treats -- forever!

If you're a cookie-and-candy-craver, don't despair. Sweets can be part of a healthy, lifelong eating pattern. But for the least harm and -- don't forget this -- the fullest enjoyment, they should be eaten in moderation. That means in small amounts, or only a couple of times a week. Even a woman who has made a career out of eating candy admits she has cut back her consumption to one day a week. Hilary Liftin, blessedly svelte and cavity free, wrote the critically acclaimed, tongue-in-cheek memoir Candy & Me: A Love Story.

"Candy's meaning," she says, "has more subtlety than its taste. It affords a fleeting spike of pleasure, sometimes guilty or elusive or bittersweet, like an impossible love affair."

Such romanticization aside, the smorgasbord of candy -- not to mention cheeseburgers, cookies, cakes, pies, fries, chips, barbecue, and ice cream -- that Americans consume has helped lead to skyrocketing obesity rates and a near-epidemic of diabetes.

So why would anyone in his or her right mind (sorry, Hilary) ever think it's OK to eat candy, cake, or pie?

"Some choices are better than others," says Larrian Gillespie, MD, author of The Menopause Diet, The Gladiator Diet, and The Goddess Diet. "You have to know the consequences before you make the choice."