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A guide to a healthier Halloween

Even those of us with the most powerful self-restraint will end up eating at least a few pieces of Halloween candy this year; however, it is possible to make better treat selections, so you're not feeling guilty and yet still satisfy the craving.

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healthier halloween infographic

Text from the infographic in alternative format

As the infographic says: avoid candy and snacks made from corn syrup, sugars, and artificial colorings, white chocolate, and full-sized portions. Healthier options to enjoy are dried cranberries or raisins in individual packets, dark chocolate, bite size or fun size candy, all natural fruits and vegetables like these 100-calorie or less options of a medium apple, three clementines, one cup blueberries, or one cup tomatoes

What are healthier Halloween snacks to unwrap and treats to avoid?

Steer clear of: Candy corn, licorice, Swedish fish, gummy worms
It's always a smart choice to stay away from candy/snacks that are primarily made from corn syrup or other sugars (typically these ingredients end in –ose), and artificial colorings. It's also much easier to consume more than you intended with these types of treats because of their small size and not being individually wrapped.

Unwrap: Raisins or dried cranberries in individual packets
Rich in antioxidants and fiber, raisins or dried cranberries are a great way to snack healthfully while satisfying your sweet tooth.

Steer clear of: White chocolate
White chocolate doesn't actually have cocoa in it, but rather cocoa butter. Cocoa is the ingredient which boasts the health benefits. Cocoa butter is a saturated fat which may be a factor in higher cholesterol levels in your blood.

Unwrap: Dark chocolate
It's no surprise that choosing dark chocolate is a healthier Halloween treat than many of the alternatives. Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants and other compounds, which may benefit heart health (blood vessels are protected, lower blood pressure). There is no defined amount of chocolate to eat to reap the benefits so enjoy one ounce of 70% or greater cocoa chocolate a few times a week.

Steer clear of: Full-sized portions
One of the best things about Halloween is that candy comes in all shapes and sizes. Aim for a miniature or "fun" size to keep yourself from going whole hog. Obviously, smaller-sized candy bars are lower in calories and fat than their full-sized siblings.

Unwrap: Mint flavor
Most mint-flavored candy is low in sodium. Also, some studies have shown mint (peppermint, spearmint) causes satiety (satisfaction) which may be related to the sense of smell triggering the sensation (stimulates the brain) rather than the food itself.

Unwrap: Nuts
If you're choosing between one piece of candy or another, choose the one with nuts as an ingredient. Nuts do offer a healthy fat, albeit surrounded by many not-so-ideal ingredients. The space taken up by the nuts is space that sugars and other fats could have taken up. Although the candy/snack may be lower in sugar and less healthful fats, the calories may be about the same because of the healthier fat calories in the nuts.

Unwrap: All natural
Fruits and vegetables are a great way to take care of your hunger between meals. The following foods are 100 calories or less:

  • one medium apple
  • three clementines
  • one cup blueberries
  • one cup grapes
  • one and one-quarter cup melon
  • two plums
  • one cup cherry or grape tomatoes
  • four cups cauliflower
  • one cup celery with one tablespoon peanut butter
  • two cups raw vegetables with two tablespoons of light dressing

Happy Healthy Halloween!


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