By Betty Murray
Halloween is a holiday packed full of thrills and chills for kids and adults alike. It is also packed full of sugar and sweets. But some of those treats and sweets are downright scary.
Do you know the worst Halloween candies? Here three of the unhealthiest candies:
- Candy Corn — You might as well eat straight sugar. Candy corn contains more than a gram of sugar in just one piece. It also contains Red 3, a dye that is a known carcinogen. One serving of candy corn (19 pieces) is bulging with 140 calories, 36 grams of carbs and 32 grams of sugar.
- Dots — They’re gummy and sticky, making them hard to get off teeth. The longer the candy is stuck to your teeth, the greater the chances of tooth decay, as sugar eats away at the enamel. Dots also contain food dye that is suspected to cause cancer. One serving of Dots is equal to about 10 pieces and contains 130 calories, 33 grams of carbs and 20 grams of sugar.
- Now and Later — Like Dots, Now and Laters aggressively attack the teeth. They are also classified by the Environmental Working Group as “high risk” for the coloring Red 40 use in the candy. Red 40 is a known carcinogen. One serving (nine pieces) is packed with 120 calories, 1 gram of fat, 29 grams of carbs and 24 grams of sugar.
Halloween just wouldn’t be the same without trick-or-treating, but before your kids fill up their buckets of candy, take some time to prepare for a “healthier” Halloween. Here are a few tips for a healthy Halloween:
- Eat a meal before Trick or Treating. Start the evening off right by feeding your family a healthy dinner before the Trick or Treating fun begins. Make it fun by dining in costume and decorating the table with spiders and cobwebs. Filling up your kids’ stomachs with healthy food, like fruits, vegetables and protein will keep their sugar cravings to a minimum.
- Attend a church, school or community Halloween party as a fun alternative to door-to-door Trick or Treating, and can help cut down on the amount of candy your kids take home. If you’re princesses and goblins are going the traditional route, knocking on neighbor’s doors, try limit them to one or two blocks, and end the night at your home with a haunted house, Halloween-themed games, and healthy treats.
- Monitor candy intake. When those candy buckets and bags come home, take control of the goods before the candy makes it to your kids’ rooms. Store the candy in an off limits container that only you have access to. This will allow you to monitor their sugar intake, and the candy supply could last your family several months, rather than just a few hours.
- Switch out candy for healthier snacks. Substitute candy for healthy snacks like granola bars or applesauce packs. Gun toys and gadgets can also be used as a sugar substitute. Who says a “treat” has to be candy? Shop your local Dollar Tree, or the dollar aisle at Target for some fun-sized toys for your stock. Party favor toys that come in multi-packs work well, too. Your house may not be a favorite among the kids, but chances are, you’ll have an easier time making friends with other neighborhood parents.
Don’t substitute your children’s health for fun this Halloween. With a little planning, a Healthy Halloween celebration can be just as fun for the kids as an evening filling up on candy.
Betty Murray, CN, HHC, RYT is a Certified Nutritionist & Holistic Health Counselor, founder of the Dallas-based integrative medical center, Wellness and founder of the Metabolic Blueprint wellness program. Betty’s nutrition counseling practice specializes in metabolic and digestive disorders and weight loss resistance. A master of the biochemistry of the body, Betty teaches her clients how to utilize nutritional interventions to improve their health. Betty is a member of the Institute of Functional Medicine and the National Association of Nutrition Professionals.