Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Ignore Candy Calories

Yesterday, I found myself clicking on a list for a Halloween candy calorie counter. I’ve also read numerous Halloween-focused blog posts and advised concerned clients providing them with my suggestions for Sunday. It no longer surprises me that a day meant to be child-centric takes up a lot of mind time for weight conscious adults because of the candy situation. Other holidays have their accompanying sweets there’s chocolate on Valentine’s Day and pie on Thanksgiving. Yet on Halloween candy, loaded with childhood memories and perhaps mentally off limits, trumps the others in terms of temptation and trouble. To soothe a potentially scary situation a few of my trick or treat tips:
1. Ignore candy calories.
We can all do the math and in fact, for a few publications, I have done more than my share of candy math. There are charts listing the higher calorie candies which includes many of the chocolately ones (Reese’s, Almond Joy, Mounds, Take 5) and the lower calorie (candy corn, 3 Musketeers, Peppermint Patty) but as I mention above I feel you should ignore them. Here’s the deal, it doesn’t matter to me that I can have 35 (35.2 to be exact) candy corn for 3 mini Mounds. I don’t like candy corn and would never forego a chance for an adorable and delicious Mounds. I don’t think we should pick our treat based on a chart. If you’re like me at one time or another you’ve tasted them all (actually I have never had a Take 5) and know your favorites. Go with them and you may not have to eat 35.

2. Children will not care about candy after 48 hours.
It happens every year. It’s mid November and I’m in my office. Without fail a few sessions will start like this “I was doing laundry and I spotted the kids’ candy, I had hid it from the kids.” Or, “it was late at night; I went into the kitchen and decided to have 1 piece of the Halloween candy.” Let’s just say the latter example doesn’t end with 1 piece of candy. I suggest letting your kids enjoy, within reason, their stash on Halloween. After that, present them with a small container and let them put 5 of their favorite candies in there to save. Do what you will with the rest but it needs to leave the house. You can donate it and send it overseas to soldiers (although lately according to reports not sure they need the extra calories), you can, as a client of mine does, put it out for the “candy witch” to take. Candy Witch takes the candy, brings it to children without candy and like the tooth fairy leaves some coins in return. I have no issues tossing candy. If that sounds wasteful I would argue that eating nutritionally void treats isn’t helping anyone.

3. Better Options Exist
I have to admit, I’m not anti sugar. Kids and adults have sugar, even the ones who say or whose parents say they “eat no sugar.” Everything from yogurt to oatmeal can have sugar in it. An article in the New York Times today states “candy provides only 6 percent of the added sugar in the American diet, while sweet drinks and juice supply 46 percent.” Having noted that sugar is prevalent there are better and worse ways to sweeten things. I am wearier of the dyes and high fructose corn syrup than I am of sugar. My kids selected Annie’s Organic Bunny Fruit Snacks and Surf Sweets Sour Worms  to give out. Are these healthy? Appetizing? Absolutely not. They are free of corn syrup and use natural colorings. I also don’t happen to have any sort of a gummy habit so they’re also “safe” in that respect.
What’s your favorite Halloween candy? Do you intend to have it this year? What are you giving out? Do you agree with my trick or treat tips or have any of your own to add?


  1. This is the first year I haven't had to replenish my Halloween supply. Kit Kats and mini M&M's are "safe" for me. If I had Snickers and Mounds, well that's another story.

  2. Sorry to be the "Grinch" who stole Halloween, but since August, I've been observing an overload of candy!

    On a recent trip to my neighborhood CVS pharmacy (we have 3 within one mile of each other), I was not sure if I entered a candy store or a drug store.

    That 66% figure the CDC keeps quoting (overweight and obese Americans) is because of our toxic food environment ... Halloween candy for three months and then we're off to the next overeating holiday.

    And the frosting on the cake ... Those delicious cookies the Girl Scouts are selling...loaded with trans fats.

    If I worked for big pharma, I'd be lovin' it.

    Ken Leebow

  3. I like your tips. I would add eat real food first (or don't trick or treat -- or go to Halloween festivities -- hungry).

    We are putting out Annie’s fruit snacks, Surf Sweets sour worms, Yummy Earth's lollipops and mini EnviroKidz bars.

  4. Claire, do you mean replenish candy pre-Halloween? Oops. And Ken, I think the candy overload is always present unfortunately. And I love Yummy Earth, another good idea.

  5. I agree that when it comes to candy (an occasional/rare indulgance) calories shouldn't really matter. I'd rather have my favorite variety and really ENJOY it vs. a low-cal kind that I don't love.