Halloween is evil. Forget the ghosts, goblins, witches, jack-o-lanterns, creepie-crawlies and things that go bump in the night. Granted, they’re pretty scary, and I don’t necessarily want one hanging around on the weekends, but they’re just spooky bonuses.
The real, pure, mind-boggling, blood-curdling evil behind Halloween is, of course, the masses of delectable candy I have laying around for weeks following the tricking and treating.
By this point, your brow is probably creased in contemplation, or at least moderate confusion. What’s so grave about a gummy bear, you ask? You’d be on edge too if your sweet tooth jutted out of your head as far as mine does.
I have serious sugar issues, and a holiday commercially centered around chocolates and chewing gum is about as threatening to me as the Grim Reaper himself.
Really, my problem is self-control. Mine’s a little lacking. As a costumed eight-year-old, I saw no problem with gorging on fistfuls of candy corn and Snickers bars. Now, however, the nutritional repercussions are a little more serious.
How does one balance the Halloween celebration with health consciousness? Isn’t there a way to put back a few peanut butter cups without the regretful aftermath?
The major problem most people face, myself included, is determining which candies will do the least damage. There are a few ways to decide this. First, know what characteristics constitute a “healthier” snack.
For example, gummy candies (gummy bears, worms and sour patch kids), are fat and cholesterol free, and contain about 200 calories per serving, depending on make and brand. This is less than a milk chocolate bar at 210 calories, and you also save yourself the 120 fat calories by staying away from the chocolate.
Licorice twists have still fewer calories (140) per serving. Candy corn, the most traditional of Halloween candies and jelly beans weigh in at 160 calories per serving and no fat. These are all somewhat healthier options.
Another common factor there is flavor – most gummy candies and licorice are fruit flavored, which would be hard pressed to squelch a chocolate craving.
If your heart is set on a piece of chocolate, remember that dark chocolate has about 20 fewer calories and 30 fewer fat calories than milk chocolate. Also, more ingredients in the bar (especially peanuts, almonds, cashews or caramel) will skyrocket the fat content.
Toffee and peanut brittle might sooth a chocolate lover; they have a richer flavor and fewer calories (two pieces of toffee have 60 calories, a serving of peanut brittle has 180 and 50 fat calories).
Smaller sweets like gum and lollipops are effective sugar sources that might satisfy your sweet tooth. Hard candy and mints usually last a little longer than a chewy candy bar, not to mention the breath-freshening factor, which is always a plus.
A second major problem people face is knowing when to stop (or if you’re like me, listening to that incessant little voice of reason reminding you that you’ve already eaten four Milky Ways, aren’t we being a little excessive here).
The fact that candy corn is not as bad for you as dark chocolate doesn’t mean you should eat three times as much to compensate. Make sure you adhere to the serving size. A good place to start is the nutrition label, found on all packaged candy.
Remember that when you add up the Percent Daily Values (%DV) they are figured for someone who consumes 2,000 calories per day. You will need to adjust accordingly if your caloric intake is greater.
Other influential factors include your age, sex and activity level (note that this is not your sexual activity level. That’s a whole other ball game).
So, according to the label below of a chocolate almond bar, consuming that candy will take care of 22 percent of your daily fat requirement (on a 2,000 calorie diet). However, the same bar would count for only 15 percent of the daily value of fat on a 2,800 calorie diet.
Pay attention to what you put in your mouth, and look for candy with lower carbohydrate and fat content. A candy bar may look like a small snack, but some contain more calories than meet the eye.
That said, I’ve devised a revolutionary new diet plan. It’s pure brilliance. I figure the more calories I eat, the smaller my daily intake percentages will be.
So, all I have to do is consume an exorbitant amount of calories each day. I’m talking like 8,000. At that rate I’ll have to eat four chocolate almond bars to reach 22 percent of my daily requirement for fat. That makes sense…right?
I guess mathematics isn’t exactly my strong point either. Happy Halloween!
Nadia Stadnycki can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org