Health and Fitness – Halloween Candy: Nutrition Horror?

Melanie Rovinsky

With Halloween just a few days away and grocery store shelves stocked with bags full of your favorite candies, your attempts to resist the sugar-coated temptation may not be completely successful. That’s okay! Even the strictest dieters need to partake in a little Halloween candy eating… for mental health purposes, that is!

As far as I am concerned, there are five different nutrition approaches to Halloween candy. The first two, however, don’t need much explanation. That is, you can eat absolutely no candy or you can indulge freely. If you choose to adopt one of these mentalities this Halloween, read no further. However, the following three approaches are detailed below.

BEWARE OF CALORIES

If you are strictly aiming to drop pounds, you are probably counting calories. Monitoring your caloric intake is one way to stop over-indulging. If you are aware of how many calories you are consuming, you are less likely to eat 25 miniature Twix bars. Remember: you have to consume 3,200 calories beyond what you burn to gain a pound. And since we burn approximately 1,000 calories a day just by being alive, a few pieces of Halloween candy are not going to make you go up three dress sizes (not overnight, at least).

The best candy for the calorie-counter? Three Musketeers Minis (24 calories per piece), Peeps Pumpkins (16 calories per marshmallow), or York Peppermint Pattie (full size bar for 140 calories).

PARTAKE WITH CAUTION

Most individuals who take a middle-of-the-road approach to nutrition will likely find themselves enjoying Halloween candy, but doing so with caution. As a strong proponent for moderation in diet, I find myself in this category too. I have found that it is not only important to be aware of what you are eating, but to also choose foods (or candies) wisely. If you are someone who snacks on whatever is in front of them, try keeping your mouth busy by sucking on a lollipop. Find yourself nibbling out of boredom? Choose a candy that comes more than one to a package; it will take longer to eat!

For Halloween candy that will occupy your mouth a little longer, try a Dum Dum lollipop (20 calories), M&Ms (236 calories per 48 gram bag), or Skittles (231 calories per 57 gram bag).

FIND THE GOOD SIDE

For the optimists out there, it is possible to find some good ingredients in Halloween candy. And although the bad additives are often overpowering, the few health benefits are, in some cases, still there. Many candy bars do contain milk, nuts, and fruits, and more abstractly, fiber and protein. Consuming a candy bar that contains a good amount of protein will help you feel satisfied and keep your hand from returning to the candy bowl.

Seeking a full-tummy-feeling from your candy? Try a PayDay (7 grams of protein per 52 gram bar), Hershey’s Special Dark with Almonds (3 grams of protein per 41 gram bar), or Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (5 grams of protein per 42 gram package).

Halloween candy is notoriously dangerous for dieters because the fun snack-size pieces are an easy rationale for eating “just one more.” Allow yourself a set number of pieces and pull them out of the bag or bowl ahead of time; do not continually help yourself from the entire stash! For help determining which candy is better to indulge in, use the candy bar comparison calculator at www.candynutrition.com. Happy Halloween!