Trick-or-treating isn't the only unhealthy temptation lurking around the holiday. From festive parties to office candy stashes we can't seem to escape the lure of excess sweet treats even as adults. Sure, you can promise to use the "everything in moderation" rule we dietitians preach, but that can be tough — even for me.
Of course, it would be harsh to celebrate Halloween and not enjoy our beloved chocolate, taffy, or sugary delights. The truth is — the more you know, the more you can eat, and the more you can indulge for that matter. So as you reach for a piece of candy tonight, remember, calories are key!
To take the guesswork out of Halloween treats, here is a little cheat sheet as to which choices are better than others:
Toss the Snickers and reach for a Take Five Bar instead. One Take Five Bar (nuts, pretzels, chocolate, caramel and more) weighs in at 210 calories and 11 grams of fat versus a Snicker with 280 calories and 14 grams of fat.
Trick and Treat: A Take 5 bar comes in two pieces, eat one half and share the other. You can savor every bite for only 105 calories.
Ditch the Butterfinger weighing in at 270 calories and 11 grams of fat for a Kit Kat bar which has 210 calories and 11 grams of fat.
Trick and Treat: A Kit Kat has four perfect pieces, each at around 50 calories a piece.
And don't be fooled by "low-fat" chocolate claims. Sure, a 3 Musketeers is lower in fat than most candy bars but that does not mean it's lower in calories or sugar. At 260 calories (nearly as high as a snickers), 8 grams of fat and a whopping 40 grams (10 teaspoons) of sugar 3 Musketeers is not your best choice. Opt for a 100 Grand at 190 calories, 8 grams of fat and 22 g of sugar.
The mini candy bar myth:
Unless you are one of the few people that can eat just one, choosing a mini candy bar is not always the best option. Five mini bars are often the calorically equivalent or greater than one regular candy bar. Need an example? Five mini Reese's Peanut Butter Cups has 220 calories versus the 210 calories in two full sized cups.
Trick and Treat: Have 1-3 minis and call it a day.
Need a classic candy fix?
Starbursts have 43 calories in three pieces as opposed to 70 calories for three Jolly Ranchers so you would think the starburst are the better choice. But, it takes a lot longer to suck on a jolly rancher then it does to chew up a starburst. Opt for the longer lasting treat and maybe stick to two pieces instead of three.
Remember, less isn't always better. A whole roll of the classic sugar candy Smarties has 25 calories and 5 grams of sugar compared to 50 calories and 13 grams of sugar for just eight Sweettarts.
How about a non-candy treat?
Yes, it is possible to treat yourself to chocolatey, sugary goodness without laying hands on a piece of candy! Try a Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate KIND Granola Bar with 150 Calories, 5 g fat (1g saturated), 8 g sugar or a naturally sweet apple dipped in peanut butter and sprinkled with dark chocolate shavings for a healthy, sweet treat.
What are some of your favorite candy alternatives? Tell us in the comments!
Katie Cavuto MS, RD is a registered dietitian and trained chef. She is the president of Healthy Bites, a company offering local and national culinary nutrition services. Katie is also the consulting dietitian for the Philadelphia Phillies, and a regular contributor on local and national TV and radio as an expert in her field. To learn more about Katie, check her website at healthybitesdelivery.com.