Halloween is the festival of candy as much as it is costumes. Kids roam the streets for hours on end after school filling up sacks with treats saturated with sugar. It’s part of a tradition of turning a blind eye to nutrition and proper diet on October 31.
That said, when one looks at the actual stats, the amount of candy consumed is frightening. According Harry Balzer, chief industry analyst for the NPD Group (a market research company), 4% of all candy eaten in the US happens on Halloween alone. That one single day.
NPD provides some interesting stats as a way of comparison.
- On an ordinary day, 24% of adults and children will eat some form of candy.
- On October 31st, that 24% essentially jumps to 100% for all kids and roughly 50% for nearly every adult.
- Kids also eat 4 hard and chewy candies—the ones that do the kind of damage dentists really worry about—to every 1 eaten by an adult.
These stats are pretty crazy, but it’s only for one day…right? Well, technically yes, but really does anyone finish all their candy on that one day? This is where the weight gain can creep in, with both kids and adults.
Those “fun-size” candies—whether it’s KitKat, Reese’s Cups, M&Ms—generally pack around 60 to 100 calories each. For many kids and adults, one isn’t enough, yet they don’t realize how quickly those calories add up. 4 “fun-size” candies and you’re at a 1/5 of the suggested calories for the day. Keep in mind you still have to add in meals and drinks for the day.
Basically, if you want to indulge on Halloween and the following days, you’ve got to cut out other parts of your diet. Dietitian Sarah Krieger from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggests you do away with sugary drinks, cookies or granola bars. But depending on who you are and your metabolism, you might have to go further.
A good strategy Krieger employs is feeding her kids a healthy meal before they go out trick-or-treating. This way they’re full and won’t consume too much as they go door to door. Other suggestions include have your children choose their favorites from amongst their trove.
Keith Ayoob, an associate professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, has formulated his own strategy:
- “Rule of One.” It’s all about portion control. One “fun-size” treat per day will not lead to any weight gain. Single 100 calorie candy portions are a great standard.
- An interesting tactic: Let kids enjoy gum. All kinds including ones with sugar. Bubble gum is a favorite because it’s more chewy. At only 5 to 15 calories apiece it’s not bad. Plus it keeps kids’ mouths busy for longer.
- Not really related to diet, but certainly health: remember safety and sanitation first. “If it’s not wrapped, it’s gone,” he says.
- Clean the house. By cleaning the candy out, it can’t linger to be munched on for days and weeks to come. But don’t let it go to waste. Share it at work.
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