Tips for Treats: Halloween Candy

by Siobahn Kelly

The Fall months bring on some of the best flavors of a foodie’s calendar year – apple, pumpkin, pecan pie, turkey with gravy, and of course the delicious chewy chocolatey-ness of Halloween candy on October 31st (not to mention the weeks after when bags are marked down to a tempting half-price)!

candyIf you’re like me and have a soft spot for the sweet stuff, it can be hard to keep in mind just how harmful these little goodies can be to your health. Because of its association with lifestyle diseases including obesity and diabetes, excess weight gain, and dental cavities, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that less than 10% of your daily total kcalorie intake comes from sugar.1

Additionally, when you consume kcalorie-dense candies you are less likely to fill up on more nutritious, healthy foods that supply your daily dosage of the vitamins and minerals.

To break it down a little, if women and men need about 1800 and 2300 kcalories every day, respectively, the WHO guidelines state that no more than 180 or 230 of those kcalories come from “free sugars” in foods and beverages. “Free sugars” include both the naturally occurring sugar in honey, syrups and juices, and the added sugars found in sodas, fruit drinks, syrups, and as you probably already guessed, candy.2

Sugar is provided on a nutrition label in grams, so simply multiply this number by four to calculate kcalories. To calculate your own daily kcalorie and other nutrient needs, visit the USDA’s Supertracker site to create a free profile by answering just a few basic questions!

This does not mean that you are doomed to the never-enticing neighborhood handouts of little boxes of raisins, toothbrushes, and ghost-themed pencils! The key to a sweet but tasty Halloween is moderation. Keep the candy bag out of plain sight to avoid binging and set a limit of only a piece or two a day, keeping yourself on the right health track and making your stash last longer!

Wondering how your favorite guilty pleasures measure up?3

Tips for Treats (infographic)Want to pass on the candy this year? Try out some healthier substitutions such as candied apples, spiced pumpkin biscuits, or chocolate spider web cookies! For these festive recipes and more, visit Cooking Light magazine’s website.


  1. Guideline: Sugars intake for adults and children. 2015. Geneva: World Health Organization.
  2. Coulston A.M., Johnson R.K. Sugar and sugars: Myths and realities. American Dietetic Association 2002; 102(3):351-353.
  3. Disanto B. The great big list of Halloween candy nutrition – calories, sat fat, trans fat, & sugar. Diet it UP 2012. Accessed October 17, 2015.
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