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Healthy Halloween Guide—Surviving Sugar Overload

October 30th, 2012 by Vilma Andari

Halloween is all about costumes and candy! And this year, for those of us living in the Bay Area, the San Francisco Giants’ World Series Victory Parade!!

As nutrition and health experts, we at NutraHealthFood want to make sure that we are providing our readers with the most up-to-date compilation of resources and tips on how to celebrate this Halloween without compromising your overall health and daily healthy habits! So before you head to the store to purchase last-minute candy treats to give to your neighborhood trick-or-treaters or before you indulge in a handful of the so-called portion control ‘mini-treats’ tomorrow night, read our helpful information below!

Halloween Health Hazards
Fun festivities like Halloween can be fun, but also lead to health hazards. Before embarking on your Halloween adventures, check out ABC News’ report, 7 Halloween Health Hazards. This is a great resource for picking up tips on how to safely carve and light a pumpkin, keep your munchkins rash-free and prevent health hazards like tripping on costumes and overdosing on sugar!

Speaking of consuming too much sugar . . . Kaiser Permanente surveyed all of its Southern California pediatric chiefs on the top reasons kids end up sick after Halloween, and the survey clearly indicated that the culprit behind the post-Halloween illnesses is ‘overeating candy.’ They say, “Tummy aches are the most frequently reported childhood ailment during the season of ‘ghosts’n goblins’, and overeating candy seems to be the common cause.”

Instead of candy, consider giving out some of the healthier treats on this list, including whole-grain, cheddar-flavored crackers, fruit snacks made with 100 percent fruit with added vitamin C, fruit leathers made with 100 percent fruit, sugar-free gum, animal-shaped graham crackers made without trans fat and mini rice cereal treat bars.


Know What You Eat: Avoid Sugar Overload
To avoid over-consuming sugar, the Academy of Pediatrics suggests eating a healthy dinner before trick-or-treating to avoid snacking on the go. Once the candy stash makes it into the house, consider rationing portions for the immediate November days that follow—keep enough candy to only last one week. Then, get rid of the extra! If you keep sugar in the house, the temptation to give in to sugar cravings will be great. And with the rest of the holiday eating indulgences creeping up, you don’t want to start packing on pounds in October.

My advice is to have your children select their favorite candy so that they can learn how to make healthy choices (even when indulging there are healthier choices you can make) and limit candy intake to one or two mini-treats per day for no more than one week. Just two mini-treats a day can easily consume discretionary calories for the entire day!! For example, Skittles and Branch’s Candy Corn mini treat bags (15 grams) have 60 calories and 11.3 grams of sugar and 53 calories and 11.7g sugar, respectively.

If you need a refresh on sugar intake guidelines, check out this presentation >>

1) Most children should have no more than 15 grams of added sugars daily (approximately 3.75 teaspoons of sugar per day)
2) Most women should have no more then 6 teaspoons (about 100 calories or 25 grams) of added sugars daily
3) Most men should have no more than 9 teaspoons (about 150 calories or 37.5 grams) of added sugars daily


Candy Comparisons
So, you know candy is not great for your overall health, but you still can’t help but indulge and you want to know how the sugary treats stack up against each other? Well, we have found three great candy comparison guides that will help you make the best decision and be more mindful of what you are consuming:

Health Castle: Which Halloween Candies are More Trick than Treat?
Cooking Light Magazine: The Great Halloween Candy Comparison
Health Magazine: Your Guide to Hallowing Candy

Remember, added sugar is commonly found in not only candy, but also soft drinks, cakes, cookies, yogurts, energy bars and granola bars. Make sure to look at the ingredients list to see if common forms of added sugar are listed as high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, dextrose, glucose, honey, maltose, malt syrup, molasses, sucrose and syrup. Natural occurring

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sugars include fructose and lactose, which are found in fruit and dairy products, respectively.

Long-lasting Healthy Halloween Tips
Lastly, if you are hosting or preparing treats for a Halloween party, you still have time to rethink your strategy. Check out ABC’s Good Morning America ‘Sweet Treats for Halloween’ segment to get inspired with some new, healthy twists to some party treat favorites. Hint: You can make healthy brownies using black beans!

Some additional tips:
• Give stickers, pencils or mini play-dough tubs instead of fat- and sugar-loaded candy.
• Popcorn, pumpkin or sunflower seeds & low-sodium pretzels are healthy alternatives.
• Small apples, small boxes of raisins and mini-bags of baby carrots are a great source of ‘natural occurring sugars.’
• Have your trick-or-treaters do 10 jumping jacks at

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the door to earn their treats
• Wear a pedometer so that you can track how many steps you have taken around the neighborhood (there are approximately 2,000 to 2,500 steps in a mile) and try to meet your daily minimum of 30 minutes if you haven’t yet.
• To maintain your current weight, eat smarter, cut 100 calories from your day by leaving 3-4 bites on your plate at the end of each meal, drink only water or non-fat or 1% milk with your meals or snacks and limit the Halloween candy intake after the first week.
• Remember to eat your treats mindfully! Take your time to enjoy each bite by incorporating all of your five senses.
• Do not forget to donate or make an art project out of the extra candy!!!

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