7 Not-So-Sweet Halloween Candies to Avoid

Article posted in: Diet & Nutrition
Halloween Candies spilling out of a bucket

Starting with Halloween, the end of the year is loaded with temptations and plates and plates of food. But that doesn’t mean your weight loss goals have to go on hold until January—and it doesn’t mean you have to eschew Halloween candies all together.

To avoid eating too many bad Halloween candies, try buying varieties for trick-or-treaters that you don’t particularly like: If you’re not a Good and Plenty person, you’ll have an easier time passing on what’s left over the morning of November 1st. Even if it’s not your favorite stuff, put the bowl out of sight after the doorbell-ringing is over: Scientists who studied candy dishes found that subjects ate 1.8 more pieces of candy per day when the bowl was on their desks versus two meters away. Get that bad candy out of sight and keep it out of your mind.

If you do grab a piece at work, keep the wrappers on your desk instead of throwing them away. In a 2011 study, participants who were offered bowls of pistachios in their shells ate 41 percent fewer calories during a period than those given pre-shelled nuts. Scientists theorized that the nut-shellers saw the pile of shells, realized how much they were eating, and felt full—both groups reported feeling just as full and satisfied.

And, if you absolutely can’t go without a piece of the sweet stuff, eat the one you’re craving. Just do it in moderation so you’re not left pining for something else. And try to stay away from these seven candies—they’re all hiding something… and it’s a trick, not a treat.

1. Reese’s Peanut Butter Pumpkin

The trouble with this pumpkin is that it’s oversized: You’d probably figure that the pumpkin shape is just that—a shape that is still the same as a regular Reese’s. But the trick is that it’s bigger: Each pumpkin weighs in at 170 calories, with 10 grams of fat and 16 grams of sugar. A regular Reese’s has just 105 calories, meaning the pumpkin is more than 50 percent bigger. If you must indulge, stick with just one of the classic shape.

2. Skittles, Nerds and other candies that have no relation to real food

At least peanut butter cups have peanut butter and chocolate—real, actual foods. But these “fruit-flavored” concoctions are the Frankensteins of trick or treat: Amalgams of sugar, chemicals like “tapioca dextrin” and “titanium dioxide,” they don’t come close to resembling real food.

Most of the ingredients on that chemical list are sugar: In the case of original Skittles, there’s sugar, then corn syrup (read: sugar), and later, modified corn starch (read: modified sugar). No wonder a bag contains 46 grams of sugar—almost twice as much as the American Heart Association recommends for women in a whole day.

3. “Health halo” treats like Raisinets

Come on, they’re raisins! And right there on the package it says that they have 30 percent less fat!

When food companies label things with terms like “low-fat” and “good source of protein,” they do so without regulation—and the consumer suffers. These “healthy” labels create an effect scientists call the “health halo”: When you think a food is “good for you,” you don’t feel guilty about eating more of it. In a 2007 study from Cornell University, dieters eating at a “healthy” fast food restaurant underestimated their intake by 151 calories.

Raisinets fit the “health halo” bill: They’re made of fruit, and are labeled as having “less fat.” But that “less fat” includes 18 percent of your recommended daily intake of saturated fat in a single “snack size.” That also comes with 150 calories—more than in most “fun size” Halloween candy bars.

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4. “Handful” treats like Candy Corn

Americans are not great at estimating serving sizes: In one study published in Nature, men and women both guessed the proper portion of a food item only about half the time. So when a portion isn’t controlled—like when you’re grabbing a handful of something instead of eating a discreet, pre-measured size—there’s a 50 percent chance you’re grabbing the wrong amount… and it’s probably more than you’d like.

That’s the trouble with treats like Skittles, Raisinets and the Halloween classic, candy corn: You’re more likely to eat more than you plan… and if it’s not your favorite candy, it’s wasted, mindless eating that can really add up. Even though candy corn is made with “real honey,” that’s still sugar: Just 19 pieces has 28 grams of sugar—almost three times as much as a bowl of Lucky Charms.

5. 3 Musketeers

It may taste lighter and be marketed as lighter, but this swashbuckling bar has a secret: The full-size bar has 240 calories—the same as a full-size Milky Way, and just 10 fewer calories than a Snickers. And 3 Musketeers has more sugar than either of the others: 36 grams in a full-size bar, as much as you’d get in three glazed donuts from Dunkin’.

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6. Take5

When it comes to bad candy, a trip to conjunction junction—filled with words like “and” and “with”—usually serves one function: to add fat and calories. When Halloween candies have five features, like Take5—which has chocolate AND peanuts AND caramel AND pretzels AND peanut butter—it’s going to compound the calories. One “snack size” bar has 105 calories—more than 25 percent more than Snickers. And a full-size Take5 has 27 percent of your daily saturated fat and 18 grams of sugar. So don’t even take one!

7. Dove Dark Chocolate Miniatures

While the kids are eating kids’ stuff, you’ll enjoy these heart-healthy “adult” chocolates that are silky, smooth… and have more calories than comparable “kids” brands.

Dark chocolate may have health benefits, but these minis are manufactured by Mars (one of the “M”s in M&Ms), and they aren’t an 80 percent cacao chunk. At 42 calories per piece, one Dove dark chocolate miniature has more calories than a Milky Way miniature, and a five-piece serving has 40 percent of your daily recommended saturated fat.

Skip the unhealthy candies and whip up a healthy Halloween treat! Check out our 13 Halloween recipes and these five healthier candy swaps. >

Stay on track this holiday with a little help from Nutrisystem! Click here to stock up on our sweet snacks. >

*All nutritional information taken from respective company sites and USDA nutritional database on 9/21.