Here's the skinny on Easter candy — plus a healthy holiday recipe

For all of you who are sticking like glue to your diet program, Easter can really put a stutter into that backwards count. Dieting is hard enough, but add a day highlighted by a chocolate candy hunt and you’ve got more hopping down the bunny trail than a rabbit — you’ve got torture with ears.

And what about those delicious holiday foods that are only served once a year, like grandma’s famous Easter bread?

Cadbury Creme Eggs are only sold between January and Easter, but the factory “lays” 66,000 eggs per hour year-round just to meet the demand.

A really big candy holiday

In 1998, Easter candy sales totaled $940 million. But by 2000, it rose to $1.9 billion, consuming 7.1 billion pounds, to edge ahead of Christmas candy sales that year.

So what’s a dieter to do? Well, first of all, not all Easter candy is created equal. Jelly beans and marshmallow eggs are two that, although full of sugar, do not contain the high fat found in chocolate and thus have fewer calories.

Brach’s Classic Jelly Bird Eggs have 150 calories, 0 grams fat in a 14-piece serving. And Marshmallow Peeps contains 32 calories, 0 grams fat for one peep.

One Palmer Whacky Rabbit White Chocolate Bunny (2.5 ounces) contains an artery-clogging 360 calories, 20 grams fat (12 grams saturated fat).

One of the best things you can do is to join the egg hunt with the kids. A 170-pound woman will burn approximately 116 calories in 30 minutes of Easter egg hiding, and another 154 calories in 30 minutes of egg hunting.

How to enjoy the holiday meal

So now that we’ve tackled the candy, what about the feast? Here’s a few suggestions:

—Make substitutions. Use lighter ingredients in some recipes, or substitute lighter recipes (you can check out for these).

—Pile on the unbuttered vegetables, heap up the healthy salads, then treat yourself to a small, calculated sample of some of your favorite higher calorie foods.

—Don’t wear baggy, loose-fitting clothes. Don’t be uncomfortable, but form-fitting outfits can make us more aware of the expansion of our middles. Remember, your stomach is only as big as your two fists; that’s not a lot of food.

—Take your time. Converse with loved ones in between bites. Remember the real meaning of the holiday.

Recipe for a holiday favorite

Here’s a holiday favorite that will grace our table this Easter. You can serve it as a salad or as a dessert, and it’s only 81 calories, 0 grams fat, per three-quarter cup.

Green whipped salad

Mix together one package fat-free, sugar-free instant pistachio pudding mix; one large can crushed pineapple, drained; and 8 ounces fat-free Cool Whip. Refrigerate two hours and enjoy.

Kim Bensen, author of "Finally Thin," was a lifetime yo-yo dieter who lost 200-plus pounds and has kept it off for more than 10 years. She owns the Kim Bensen Weight Loss Center and Kim’s Light Café on Bridgeport Avenue in Shelton. Details: