Monday, October 27, 2014

Keeping your Waistline HAPPY at HALLOWEEN: How to Choose your Candy



Halloween is coming and most likely you feel obligated to buy candy for the little kids running around the neighborhood. While of course I would recommend buying something healthy to give them, you probably don't want to get the reputation of the lamest/ most disliked neighbor on the street. But having candy on hand at all times comes with its challenges: If you throw it away, that is wasteful. If you give it to someone else, you are sabotaging their health. It’s a lose-lose situation. Regardless, you should be able to “indulge” once in a while and have a piece. Whenever buying candy, I always recommend buying the mini’s. That way you can have one little bite that can help satisfy your craving for sweets. Keep in mind that each “mini” still runs you about 30-50 calories, so if you pop a few, the calories add up.

When it comes to health, unnatural sources of sugar are the enemy. High blood sugar (caused by eating sugar and not using it through physical activity) is one of the main causes of inflammation and increased abdominal fat. Thus while candies like Swedish Fish and Skittles may be fat free/low-fat, they do cause a sharp spike in your blood sugar almost immediately after consumption. They also cause cavities. If you are going to have candy, I recommend eating candies that aren’t made of only sugar, but that also have fat and protein to slow the spike in blood sugar. As far as candy goes, the best you are going to find are those that contain nuts. Nuts are natural and they contain fat, fiber, and a little protein. While candies that contain nuts are higher in calories than pure sugar candies, they theoretically might cause you to store less fat you would after eating a pure sugar candy. In theory, your body won’t be hit with sugar all at one time after consuming a candy that contains nuts, and has more time to use the sugar as it's being released into the blood stream. So, if you move after eating it, you are more likely to use the sugar than when it is hit quickly as with candy corn. Some examples of candies containing nuts are Almond Joy, Snickers, Mr. Goodbar, Peanut Chews, Hershey’s with Almonds, Peanut M & M’s, Baby Ruth, and Pay Day to name a few.

Even if you are eating a candy that contains nuts, realize I am in no way saying these are good for you. Most of these candies have sugar as the first or second ingredient, as well as corn syrup and palm oil, all of which are terrible for you. Peanut Chews still have hydrogenated oil, which is trans fat, and very very bad for you. Furthermore, you should never eat a candy and just sit down and be sedentary after eating. If you are going to eat candy or any treat for that matter, you better be moving afterwards. If you want to indulge, make sure you are active afterwards so your muscles can soak up that blood sugar instead of letting it damage cells, cause inflammation, and be stored as fat.

My Recommendations:


The best generic brand Halloween candies as far as nutritional value goes (in my book) are Peanut or Almond M & M’s, PayDay, Almond Joy, and Snicker’s. If you can find any of these in dark chocolate, that is a better way to go since they tend to be lower in sugar and slightly higher in antioxidant value. Again, even the “mini” varieties of these contain almost 50 calories and are mostly sugar and unhealthy fats- so indulge wisely! Please refer to a very helpful chart from leanitup.com for help discerning between the bars.

Moral of the story, you are allowed to eat candy. However, try not to eat it every day, and if you do, choose a small piece and get moving afterwards! Happy Halloween!


References: 

https://www.snickers.com/Nutritional-Info
http://www.justborn.com/peanut-chews
www.hersheys.com
http://www.mms.com/us/product/peanut
Picture: Source: https://www.snickers.com/Nutritional-Info

2 comments:

Jessica said...

I love your reasonable suggestions - what are the best candies to hand out, rather than preparing for the eggs to fly at your house after giving out bags of kale chips! :)

Kelly Strogen, MS, RD, LDN said...

Thanks Jessica, I appreciate the feedback. Happy Halloween!