Healthy Halloween

Published:  10/06/2014

I believe candy can and should be enjoyed in moderation in an otherwise diet filled with nutritious foods. Whether you choose to practice self-control or indulge responsibly, here are some tips and strategies and recommended candies to help you navigate Halloween.

The Worst of the Worst


The caloric and sugar consequences can be scary. Consider these numbers:

  • Two Skittles Fun Size fill your tummy with more sugar than two Krispy Kream glazed doughnuts;
  • Three miniature Twix Caramel Cookie Fun Sizes have as many calories as a Magnum Classic Ice Cream Bar; and
  • Nine Twizzlers as many calories as a McDonald's medium fries.

And unless these are your most favorite candy, you might want to avoid these and if you love them, keep portions small:

  • Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Almond Joy, Mounds, Snickers, M & Ms White Chocolate, Candy Corn and Kit Kats.

I have some better alternatives for you! Consider my other picks for a healthier-for-you candy option for those looking to satisfy a sugar craving or looking for a Halloween Trick-or-Treat candy. 

My Candy Recommendations


BEST BETS FOR TRICK OR TREATERS: Stick with hard candies, lollipops, taffy, licorice, and sugarless gum, which are generally lower in fat and calories. Best candies are snack size Musketeers minis, M and M Pretzel Fun Size, Nerd Fun Size, Lemonheads, Dum Dum lollipopsJelly Belly Jelly Beans Mini PackYork Peppermint Patties, Peeps Marshmallows Pumpkins, Ring Pops, Starburst, Pixy Stix, DOTS, Smarties Candy Rolls, SweeTarts, Werther's, Tootsie Rolls, Caramel Apple Pop, Tootsie Pop, Toblerone Fun Size, Dubble Bubble.

Prepackaged bags of trail mix, dried fruit, fruit leather, pretzels, cheese and cracker packages, raisins and low-fat granola bars make a healthier, more nutritious snack.

Have a child with a food allergy? Here is what I recommend. 

Surf Sweets are vegan, gluten-free organic gummies. They get their color from natural sources. The half-ounce snack packs are 45 calories with eight grams of sugar and 35 percent of the day's antioxidant vitamin C.

YumEarth Candy. Their products are completely, allergen-free. Some of your little trick-or-treaters will have dangerous food allergies and a treat they can eat will be appreciated. Another good reason to choose YumEarth is that they color their products with fruit and vegetable juices as well as other naturally occurring colors derived from roots - there is no artificial dye in our products. See this post for the dangers of artificial food color.

If you like chocolate try these Unreal Chocolate Gems that are similar to M and M's. These gems are not individually wrapped. UnReal has Dark Chocolate Crispy Quinoa Peanut Butter Cups. Their peanut butter cups are gluten free and vegan. They are RBST-free dairy, faire trade certified and colored from all-natural vegetables like spirulina and beets.

Justin's makes some delicious organic Kosher Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups. One has about five grams less sugar per package than typical peanut butter cups. Justin's cocoa is Rainforest Alliance Certified and they also use sustainably sourced palm fruit oil.

And speaking of chocolate, the name Ghiradelli is almost synonymous with chocolate! They make a Twilight Delight Intense Dark 72% Cacao Square that is insanely delicious! Not a good choice for the trick-or-treaters since they are not wrapped, but nice to have on hand for a chocolate craving fix. Or another good choice from Ghiradelli is their Chocolate Intense Dark Squares, Sea Salt Soiree. 

SmartSweets are another good option if you like fruity and gummy. These are small bags. I like these because they are made without artificial colors, sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners. No Artificial Sweeteners, Vegan, Plant-Based, Gluten-Free. They use stevia and monk fruit which are much better sweeteners. (This is the sweetener I use in my coffee and tea).

Numa Healthy Chewy Milk candy is gluten free, candy with peanuts and cranberries. These aren't individually wrapped.

Maria Faires, Registered Dietitian, Certified Personal Trainer

Tips for a Healthier Halloween

MAKE EXERCISE A TRICK: Instead of driving your kids around the neighborhood, walk them from house to house. You could burn 324 calories in an hour.

ENTERTAIN WELL: If you're hosting a spooky bash, dunk for apples--and feel free to eat your prize. Serve fresh roasted pumpkin seeds instead of oily mixed nuts.

BUY LATE, BUY LESS: The longer the candy is in plain view, the more tempting it is. Buy the candy just a day before. When you do shop, buy less than you did last year so you will have fewer leftovers. So what if you run out of candy during the Halloween onslaught? Toss a few dimes and quarters into the children's sack.

BE PICKY:  Only eat what you love. If you don't really like Butterfingers but the break room at work has a bowl full, don't eat them! Save those precious calories for something else.

BUY WHAT YOU DON'T LIKE: Buy only the stuff that turns you off. The quickest way to kill the urge to nibble is to take away the enjoyment.

GIVE CANDY THE FREEZE: Have leftover chocolate? Pop your stash of chocolate in the freezer. You'll have to let it thaw out to enjoy it, which can prevent impulse eating.

PULL A DISAPPEARING ACT: Store candy on a high shelf or behind the heavy cans in the pantry. Out of sight is out of mind.

NIBBLE LIKE A BUNNY: Keep a constant stock of raw vegetables and fruits handy. As you dole out the candy bars, chomp down on a carrot stick. Yes, I know it isn't like eating a chocolate bar but your hips will show the difference.

REMEMBER MODERATION: The world won't come to an end if you eat three chocolate kisses. But remember to balance the rest of your day's diet by eliminating the fat, sugar and calories from another part of your day's menu.

PICK WISELY: My best advice is to take advantage of the mini-sized candy options available to meet the need for a sweet treat. The small portion will satisfy without too much sugar or calories. And out of sight, out of mind! I like to keep my candy on the top pantry shelf out my sight. One of my favorites is Hershey's Kisses, the Special Dark Chocolate variety. One or two satisfies my cravings.

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