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Calorie Count Blog

Halloween Candy: A Dietitian's Guide


By Mary_RD on Oct 12, 2010 10:00 AM in Tips & Updates
Edited By +Rachel Berman

A long time ago, I placed (fine) candy in the “sometimes” or “rarely” food group.  That group is reserved for scrumptious foods that have no nutritional value.   They are served on holidays – personal (birthday), religious (Christmas) and civic (4th of July) – as well as at rare times when luck comes your way.

I suppose Halloween is a quasi religious holiday, being the time of the Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos), and a special time in other faiths.   But I could never see the point of giving kids a pillow case full of candy.  To me, that is excessive and wasteful and it gives the wrong message.  But, so far, I can’t get kids to agree.  And so Halloween is what it is: Damage Control. 

Halloween Candy Coming In

Generally, Halloween night is a free-for all.  Everybody eats candy.  And that might go on for another day, but sooner rather than later we get a grip and candy is rationed to one piece at lunch and another after school.  Some is shared with family members who are too old to Trick-or-Treat.  And eventually the pillow case is forgotten at the back of the closet, and the candy is tossed with the next decent cleaning.  Some creative parents play the humanitarian card and donate the candy to the local Food Bank, while other wily parents talk the kids into freezing their booty to spread throughout the year.

Halloween Candy Going Out

The candy that you choose to distribute is another story.  Year after year, I’d try to persuade my daughter to let me hand-out something else - pencils, stickers, glowsticks - even nickels - but she wouldn’t hear of being odd, and she wanted candy.  But I held the purse strings, and so I gave out candy that did the least damage.  Damage Control candy is low in calories and fat, and is served in small portions.  Damage Control candy might look more like a toy, which makes it less likely to be eaten.

Join me in Halloween candy shopping using my Damage Control Halloween Candy List.  The candies on the list have fewer than 100 calories per serving and might not be eaten at all!

  • Sugar-free candy – your dentist will love you!  There are sugar-free Twizzlers (33 calories each),  jelly beans, lollipops, and more 


Your thoughts…

How do you deal with the Halloween candy?



Also on About.com

Gluten-Free Candy

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Comments


One year I gave nickles. It wasn't a moral objection to candy - I forgot to buy candy and was too lazy or tired to make a trip to the store. I'll never forget the little girl, about 3 or 4 years old, who started to cry! "I don want pennies. Want CANDY!"

I always make a point of getting mini chocolate bars now. I get them right before the kids come and take any leftovers to work the next day so I'm not tempted.

As for parents - how you handle the candy problem should depend on the kids. I truly believe that I was a carb addict as a child, just like now. Self regulating was not something I could do. I suspect that's true for a lot of kids, else what would they need parents for? For some kids maybe it's best to let them pig out on Halloween but to dole out the rest at a reasonable rate.



Original Post by: citikid78

     I was raised in a food intensive home! All year long there were containers on the counter with candy and cookies and ice cream in the fridge. One the other hand there were healthy snacks that mom made special for me and those are the foods I crave the most still. She always baked my favorite breads and had all kinds of healthy spreads. Hot cinnamon raisin bread and cream cheese sandwiches beat Twinkies any day. My mother used food coloring and would ask me what my favorite color of the day was and all of snacks were that color. I remember I had a phase where I ate green eggs and pastrami (we are Jewish there was no ham in the house) and all my vegetables had to be blue. You need to make healthy foods attractive and interesting to kids.

     There has to be a balance or your kids will pig out on sugar when it is there to make up for not having it. If you open my fridge today (and I am a big time snacker) I have baby carrot stix and crab meat stix and healthy dips and a box of cream puffs. As long as my waist is under 33 I am happy


WOW!  You have an awesome mom!  How fun it must have been for both of you!



Do they even make Fizzies anymore? Where could I get them?



Wait, "eat this not that" is saying that the stuff this lady is recommending is bad for you!

"Half a pack of Skittles has more sugar than a scoop of Haagen-Dazs Cookies and Cream Ice Cream. 
Nine Twizzlers carry as many calories as a Wendy’s Double Stack Burger."
http://health.yahoo.net/experts/eatthis/5-worst-halloween-ca ndies-and-10-best-survival-tips

Gah! This is why I stopped trying to follow "ETNT" or Hungry Girl or whatever. They're full of conflicting information. It's just easier to read the nutrition info and make my own decision.

And btw, I agree with everyone up there saying it's better to let the kids have their one-day binge. I'm gonna do it for my wedding, after all, and I'm not gonna feel bad about it at all. One day of fun doesn't kill everyone; that's what we keep saying on this site, isn't it? Treat yourself? Have fun?



Oh, getting cruddy candy at Hallowe'en sucks.

When I was four, we moved to Mexico. Here, when you trick-or-treat, you get fruit (usually mandarins, oranges, guavas, sugar canes, apples, some bananas... the stuff that's in season, you know) and seasonal bread. One of my friends lives in this neighborhood where people get all worked up and make rice with milk, roasted mini wieners and such to hand out.

I remember, coming from Canada and being so small, it was disappointing not to get candy. I wanted chocolate, dammit, not fruit that I could get any day! Other kids liked it, though, 'cause they'd never gotten candy anyway. Plus a sugar cane is practically candy anyway, you just have to work harder to get at the sugar so it takes a lot longer, haha. People are starting to give out more candy nowadays, what with globalization and seeing american shows where kids get candy. We give out a mixture of mini chocolate bars along with the fruit & bread.



Even with the low callorie count candy you have to face the other factors: food dye's, hydrogenated oils which destroys the heart in the long run, high fructos corn syrup which destroys the pancreas and aspartame which is commonly used in low callorie foods which in return causes cancer.

 



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I am lucky that I only seem to crave sweet food occasionally .But when I do I can scoff a couple of bars at a sitting.I have lost about 10lbs over the last six weeks and I am still doing well ,slowly does it....



my only thought (and no i did not read the other posts yet) is that you are giving out the worst possible candy for your teeth.  all sticky gooey candy that clings to teeth, unless of course you use sugar free gum, but bubble gum is not sugar free.......

 

think of teeth too not just waste



I'm 15 and I'm still going trick or treating this year! When I was younger, I never enjoyed the sweets I was given unless they were chocolate but I ate them within 3 days anyway. Didn't affect my weight at all.

This year, I'm planning to have a day off healthy eating and make myself sick from all the gorgeous sugar! It's only one day so don't ruin an annual celebration! Those sweets you mentioned are like giving kids crap so they don't eat them...

Halloween is Halloween and you're making it sound like the unlheathiest day ever. Buy normal sweets that will make sure us kids enjoy one of the best nights of the year!!

I promise you, we won't go obese over night! :)



I dont mind all these comments about sugar candy for halloween and youre right it is only ONE day of celebration. However there are people who say theyre making the candy last until the holidays. Some not even up to christmas. Then again people eat more sweets during christmas also. This is a bad pattern that we keep having on our kids . I'm just indicating that this is the reason why we have so much diabetes increasing in kids because all this sugar is just a prerequisite to disaster.

Just a FYI.



This is a dieting website comprised of adults.  And they're telling us about the calories in candy. 

Grow up, don't buy it, don't eat it.  No brainer.



Not to mention, I have 3 kids and I've never seen them not identify and eat candy given to them.  A ring pop mimics a binky, not a ring. 

Does this person even have kids?!



I say let's hear it for Tootsie Roll Midgees!

They last awhile in your mouth--and they're only 23 calories each.

There's also only .5g of fat per midgee.

Hurray!



I would have commented sooner, but I was too busy eating all of the "bad" candy that I now know better than to give to the kids.  Thanks for the advice...that's how you meant it, right? Wink



I hope you werent referring to me. I dont have kids like i said earlier but my sister has twins they will be 4 in december. She makes wiser healthier choices for her kids since diabetes runs in our families. She also has other parents that diabetes doesnt run in their families who make healthier choices for her kids. If they get any candy it will be only ONE piece of candy for the entire halloween. She and her friends/neighbors bake healthy fresh baked items to give to her kids, the neigbors kids and anyone else things like whole grains and prepackaged non sugar or limited sugar items.

This site is created for making healthier choices in case you havent noticed. If you dont care to make healthier choices for you and your kids thats your preroggative outside of that you should need to wake up and take your own advice about "growing up" and READ properly.

 

thank you

 



The problem is... then there is candy at Christmas and candy at Valentine's, and candy at Easter and May Day, the summer is the only repreive unless you have a hoarder!



I always had a blast on Halloween!  (I am only 26 and still dress up to go out to party, so my trick-or-treat days are not that far behind me).  For me it was more about the costumes than the candy, and candy was just a bonus.  I would spend weeks planning my costume with my mom, and it was big fun to get all dressed up with my friends and hit the pavement.  We lived in a very hilly area, so my parents, friends and I would hike up and down steep hills for miles collecting candy.  My parents never limited our candy consumption.  Unless you count stealing from our supply, lol.

Of course we would end up with pillowcases full of candy, and maybe eat a few while walking around town.  But when we got home we would all dump it on the ground, separate it into piles by candy type, and count it all.  The count was a big deal.  We didn't eat too much while we were out and about, because we wanted to see what we got!

Then came the trades.  I like milky way and you like snickers, lets trade.  You can have all my red starbursts if i can have your pinks, etc.  This bartering and trading would go on for hours.  If you eat while you trade, then your bargaining power is decreased.

Eventually the pillow case of candy went under my bed, where I would have a couple pieces a day, and eventually lose interest.  Because Christmas was right around the corner, and Christmas candy is better than Halloween candy anyway (we have a tradition of See's candy at Christmas in my house).  And who wants to eat all that rock hard bubble gum and crappy no name candy that is left over anyway?

To this day I am still slim and active.  Just make it all about the costume and the fun with friends!  The candy is just a bonus.  Also, if you go trick-or-treating in a really hilly area, you can get an insane workout!  The rich folks in the hilly parts of town give out the best stuff anyway.  :) 

This reminds me that I have to start working on my costume!  I guess they don't have adult feety PJ's at Target in my size.  Bummer!

Happy Halloween everyone!



When I was a kid there was a lady in my neighborhood who gave out dimes.  She was quite old, I think 85 or 90.  We would say thank you to her, then be like, what are we supposed to do with this?  A dime doesn't buy anything anymore!  She must have given out a ton of money in dimes, instead of buying one cheap bag of candy.  I wonder if she thought we could go get cheeseburgers and cokes? LOL!



I may be considered a bad mom, but I have always let my kids have a "candy dinner" on Halloween night and "candy breakfast" on Easter morning. My kids are thin and never really overeat candy. If you let children self monitor and don't limit them, they come to their own conclusions and it evens out.  When my son did his first real trick or treat as a 5 or 6 year old and I told him he could eat all he wanted when we were done, of course he thought that was terrific. But he didn't really go overboard. He quickly realized he would get a tummy ache if he over did it.



Original Post by: fatbluez

I may be considered a bad mom, but I have always let my kids have a "candy dinner" on Halloween night and "candy breakfast" on Easter morning. My kids are thin and never really overeat candy. If you let children self monitor and don't limit them, they come to their own conclusions and it evens out.  When my son did his first real trick or treat as a 5 or 6 year old and I told him he could eat all he wanted when we were done, of course he thought that was terrific. But he didn't really go overboard. He quickly realized he would get a tummy ache if he over did it.


Some kids self monitor, some don't. I never could when I was a child (and still can't) but my daughter did naturally. Kids are different. People are different. If your kids self monitor, fabulous. If they do not, you have to step in and parent. If you fail to step in when the child does not and the kid turns up with a bad weight problem or diabetes, who's fault is that?



Original Post by: madamelily

Original Post by: fatbluez

I may be considered a bad mom, but I have always let my kids have a "candy dinner" on Halloween night and "candy breakfast" on Easter morning. My kids are thin and never really overeat candy. If you let children self monitor and don't limit them, they come to their own conclusions and it evens out.  When my son did his first real trick or treat as a 5 or 6 year old and I told him he could eat all he wanted when we were done, of course he thought that was terrific. But he didn't really go overboard. He quickly realized he would get a tummy ache if he over did it.


Some kids self monitor, some don't. I never could when I was a child (and still can't) but my daughter did naturally. Kids are different. People are different. If your kids self monitor, fabulous. If they do not, you have to step in and parent. If you fail to step in when the child does not and the kid turns up with a bad weight problem or diabetes, who's fault is that?


I never learned to self-monitor because I was never given the chance to.  My mum constantly struggled with her weight, so in turn, my brother and I never really got to have anything.  Our Halloween/Easter/Christmas candy was confiscated and doled out to us one piece at a time, we didn't have ice cream in the house, if my mum made cookies she kept them locked away both from us and from herself, etc...

Anyway, when my brother or I wound up at a friend's house where they had chips, or cokes, or candy slash other sweets, we would want to gouge ourselves on their stuff because we learned to 'get while the getting's good' as opposed to learning 'you don't have to eat all those cookies because if you just leave them be there'll be another there on another day when you want one.'  To this day, now, I have a hard time having things in the house and not want to chow down on them, as though some little goblin will come in the night and take it all away if I don't eat the whole bag, carton, whatever...

I try to teach my daughter that just because there is a box of ice cream sammiches in the freezer that doesn't mean you have to have one every single day until they're gone.  She learned pretty quickly that if she nagged me about it then the answer would be 'no' and now I think she sort of forgets they're there until I ask if she wants one.  I actually encourage her to go through her candy as quickly as possible and share it with her friends because once it's gone then it's gone and we can be over and done with it.  I'd rather her chow down on a ton of candy for a week than have some candy every single day for a couple of months. 



@ mrshrgw

I didn't even read your comment.



I've noticed a distinct tendancy for people to blame their parents for their weight problems. Some blame the parent for exercising too much control, some for exercising too little control.

Your parents are only responsible for you until you leave home. Thereafter, your issues are stricly your own. Parents are human and make mistakes. YOU will make mistakes with your own children - maybe not the same mistakes your parents made made but only time will tell whose mistakes left deeper scars.

I think there's a very good possibility that individual physiology plays just as much of a role as upbringing in the matter of self monitoring. Could it be that some people just naturally crave sweets and it was not a matter of how they were brought up at all?



Our parents let my brother and I eat our candy whenever, but it was kept up high above the kitchen cupboards where we could access it ourselves if we climbed up - but it was out of sight and therefore almost out of mind. Plus, if they caught us in the baskets too often we would likely get told to stop. But generally I don't remember gorging on TOO much candy other than on Halloween night, only a piece of two a night.



I was not allowed to per say go trick or treating much after the age of ten at the time i felt it was a true injustice but in reality it has probally helped me i as an adult because my desires of chocolate candy bars has not been a real dilememha for me by the control of this holiday i have little to no candy bar desires i some times buy candy bars just to have not to eat but only to possess. then to challenge myself to see how long i can keep it kind of funny if i think of it but kind of a interesting bit of info



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My middle daughter is type 1 diabetic. The year she was diagnossed she had just turned 5 and Halloween was right around the corner. As a family we decided to have a costume party for the kiddos and hand out prizes for all the different games played. It has been 3 years now and invites to our parties have become highly sought after in the neighborhood at at the childrens school. No one seems to miss the candy and we all have a great time.

Just somthing to think about.



After a year of being denied access to Reese's PB Cups (they don't really have them overseas/they are super hard to find/they're kind of pricey when you do find them at the American markets and whatnot) - I am enjoying myself some Reese's this year for Halloween....and no one will make me regret it! 



I don't every year I find an alternative. 24 pack crayons when bought at back to school time are really cheap and have been a staple for Halloween treats. This year I found Matchbox cars on a clearance rack and they will be a hit!

It is vital that we teach our kids how to be creative...why does it have to be a candy treat? I could see that they might be less then thrilled if I gave out packs of raisins or fruit.


I loved Halloween as a kid and still do as an adult. We just had our Halloween party last weekend, mostly for the adults. I read some post but not all. I will I would not let kids eat anything with a removeable wrapper, like tooties rolls, or smarties, no bags of popcorn, or apples. this is for safety sakes. One time when I was little I received pennies in my bag. Back then it was a welcome sight, because you could buy gum for  5 cents. This year we came into a bunch of change, so I think I'm just going to give 10 cents out. That way there will be no temptation on my side to eat candy through out the night or if we have any left overs.



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