Nutrition Articles

The 4 Most Fattening Fall Foods

Watch Out for These Sneaky Calories!

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Halloween marks the beginning of a two-month season packed with parties and desserts—now that's scary for anyone who is trying to manage his or her weight.  Beyond the fun-size (and therefore calorie-controlled) candies of Halloween, several fall treats are big calorie bombs. Be on the lookout for these surprisingly high-cal foods, which can add up fast if you let your guard down.

Pumpkin Flavored Baked Goods
Pumpkin itself is a healthful food. Plain pumpkin puree contains a dose of vitamin A and fiber for a small amount of calories. But pair it with sugar, cream cheese frosting, shortening and butter and you’ve got a high-cal treat dressed in a healthy-looking orange outfit. Restaurants and coffee shops are the biggest villains, promoting their pumpkin scones, muffins, donuts and breads, which can contain up to 630 calories per serving. Don't let "low-fat" versions trick your either; low-fat is not the same thing as low-calorie. Your best bet is to avoid all of these pumpkin treats, unless you look up the nutrition facts before you bite and decide that it can fit into your day. Homemade treats, frequents at parties and offices, aren't necessarily better either, so be careful!

TRICK: You can bake your own pumpkin treats using less sugar and fat, plus whole-grain goodness. Use a mini muffin tin to help with keep your portions in check and steer clear of these seasonal baked goods!

Food Item Calories Fat Sugars
Cheesecake Factory Pumpkin Pecan Cheesecake 1,079 * *
Cheesecake Factory Pumpkin Cheesecake 739 * *
Dunkin Donuts Pumpkin Muffin 630 28 g 50 g
Panera Bread Pumpkin Muffin 530 20 g 47 g
Bob Evans Pumpkin Pie 489 24 g 44 g
Starbucks Pumpkin Scone 480 17 g 43 g
Starbucks Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffin 430 12 g 32 g
Starbucks Pumpkin Bread 320 12 g 32 g
Breuggers Pumpkin Bagel 310 2 g 12 g
Dunkin Donuts Pumpkin Donut 300 16 g 18 g
Panera Bread Pumpkin "Muffie" 270 10 g 24 g

Hot Seasonal Beverages
Sometimes there is nothing more enjoyable than sipping a hot drink on a crisp fall day. Many coffee joints offer special seasonal beverages during the holidays. While plain coffee is low-cal, seasonal lattes and drinks contain a lot of sugar, and most boast a heavy dose of cream, too. A medium pumpkin spice latte with whole milk is 410 calories at Starbucks, and its competitors don't do much better. As liquid calories do not aid in fullness or satiety, these calories probably are not worth it!

TRICK: Order a small beverage (if you must) and lighten the load by requesting fat free milk and holding any whipped topping. Freshly brewed chai tea can be a great alternative that is virtually calorie-free, but look out for blended drinks that are ready to serve; they often contain cream, syrups and lots of added sugar. Many coffeehouses use a sugar syrup as the base for their chai; ask that yours be made with real tea and no added sugar. Request hot water and a teabag of chai tea (black tea with spices) with some low-fat milk on the side. Watch out for these high-cal hot beverages!

Food Item Calories  Fat   Sugars
Starbucks Grande Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino Blended Crème (16 oz) 470 13 g 63 g
Starbucks Grande Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino Blended Coffee (16 oz) 400 15 g 53 g
Starbucks Grande Pumpkin Spice Latte (16 oz) 380 13 g 49 g
Panera Pumpkin Spice Latte (11 oz) 340 9 g 48 g
Dunkin Donuts Medium Pumpkin Latte (14 oz) 330 9 g 51 g
Dunkin Donuts Medium Pumpkin Coffee with Cream (14 oz) 250 9 g 36 g
Dunkin Donuts Medium Pumpkin Coffee (14 oz) 170 0 g 36 g

Caramel Apple Anything
Yes, it’s obvious. If you cover a healthy fruit with sugar, it becomes a less healthy choice. Simple caramel apples seem innocent, but they can pack 300 calories onto that little wooden stick. Pop extra sprinkles, candies or nuts onto the outside of the apple and it’ll amp the calorie level even further. It's also good practice to avoid caramel apple desserts and baked goods from most restaurants. Most don't even contain a single serving of fruit and more than their fair share of calories and fat (see chart below).

TRICK: Enjoy your apples by cutting them into wedges and dipping them into low fat caramel dip, fat free vanilla yogurt or peanut butter. The following high-cal treats are far from healthy.

Food Item Calories  Fat   Sugars
Bob Evans Stacked and Stuffed Roasted Caramel Apple Cream Hotcakes 1,387 54 g 107 g
Cheesecake Factory Dutch Apple Caramel Streusel Cheesecake 871 * *
Bob Evans Roasted Caramel Apple Stuffed French Toast 731 19 g 55 g
Starbucks Caramel Apple Spice drink (16 oz) 380 8 g 68 g
Bob Evans Roasted Caramel Apple Crepe 376 25 g 18 g
Cheesecake Factory Hot Caramel Apple Cider 372 * *
French Meadow Bakery Apple Caramel Cake 330 12 g 30 g

Chocolate Fun Size Candies
They may be teeny-tiny, but at an average of about 100 calories a pop, these popular fun-size treats can really add up! Sure they're smaller than a full size bar and offer built-in portion control, but how often do you stop after just one? It's far too easy to eat four of five "little" candies, thinking you're not doing much damage, but that can easily add up to 400 or 500 calories in a matter of minutes. The bars that hide the most calories are those that contain peanut butter, coconut, chocolate, caramel, and nuts.

TRICK: Start reading fun-size labels before throwing out the package so that you're not eating blindly; these calories do count. Figure out the best choice for you and stick with that particular treat. Fun-size peppermint patties and Twizzlers have about half of the calories of the average chocolate bar but keep in mind these can still add up! Here are 11 fun-size treats that all contain 100 calories or fewer.


The most important thing to remember during the fall season is to think before you bite. Don't make excuses about desserts or baked treats being "healthful" just because apple or pumpkin is in the name, and monitor your intake of tiny-size treats, which can easily add up to BIG numbers of calories. Think about what these seasonal treats are doing for your body and put your label reading skills to work and stay in control of your choices.

*Sources of Nutrition Facts
All calorie information, with the exception of Cheesecake Factory, came from respective restaurant and food manufacturer websites on October 20, 2009. All Cheesecake Factory calorie counts courtesy of CalorieLab.com, which posted scanned menus from a Washington state Cheesecake Factory, where restaurants must provide calorie counts by law. Total fat and sugars were not available. No nutrition facts are currently available on the Cheesecake Factory website.

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Member Comments

  • I agree with these suggestions. Making alternatives is fine with us. My only area that is not a major issue are the mini or snack candy bars - we've committed to going more sugar free as a family so we do the alternative -- and that has helped.
  • MARKCUTY
    Sarah Haan is so beautiful....defi
    nitely , I will keep them in mind, not to eat them..
  • The cheesecake at Cheesecake Factory has as many calories that I usually have per day. But I did have some cheesecake, ate a third of a piece and was satisfied. You don't have to eat the whole thing to enjoy foods you like. Split things. Indulge at special times.
    If you plan, you can have your cake and eat it too.
    .
  • I'm not so sure I wanted to know that about carmel apples.
  • RH0UGHT0
    Cheesecake factory, Bob Evans, Dunkin Donuts, and Starbucks? It doesn't have to be the holiday season to realize these places have high calorie foods ANY time of year. Not a very enlightening list or article...
  • Thanks for this. I am at work and was thinking of going next door to McD's for their pumpkin latte, now I'm drinking my water and snacking on the fruit I brought :)
  • AYAKLE01
    I have a couple of complaints about this article. I think it is a little unnecessary to have really tempting pictures of food we are in theory supposed to be avoiding or at least limiting. In addition, name one candy bar without chocolate, nuts, caramel OR coconut. Not a very helpful suggestion. I have my pumpkin and fall treats and just keep it within the correct calorie range by either getting small sizes, skim milk, or compensating by having lower calorie meals later.
  • ETHELMERZ
    Oh for Pete's sakes, eat what you want on that holiday alone, not before or after, but enjoy on the day, and have what you like instead of picky snarky on this and that or the other............
    lifetime, people.
  • I suppose its a blessing that even though I don't hate pumpkin pie I have a LOW tolerance of it so generally 1 or 2 pieces are sufficient for the year.
  • agree with many here: I usually just get regular coffee at Starbucks, but at those times when you just have to have a seasonal latte, I always ask for a "Skinny" version, with low fat milk and no whipped creme, and I'll have it on a day when I am eating fewer calories at other meals. A worthwhile trade off for an occasional treat.
  • In lieu of a Dairy Queen pumpkin blizzard....I make a vanilla Slim Fast and add 1/4 cup of can pumpkin....does the job, Cuts MANY calories and TASTE GREAT!
    SZQ
  • JGOGLIN4
    When I make pumpkin pie, I use truvia and skim milk instead of the sugar and evaporated milk and then bake it is a casserole dish without the crust. Delicious!
  • Would have liked to have seen TIM HORTONS listed, as they are also in the states.
  • Usually with the fall theme drinks I like to drink them once in the season maybe twice. I'm a bigger fan of the Christmas drinks and those disappear after a month. Usually I make those a treat if I haven't been eating candy or anything for a week that's what I treat myself with.
  • LUPE_SEIN
    Typo: In the line reading, "far too easy to eat four of five 'little' candies," I think the word "of" is supposed to be "or."

About The Author

Sarah Haan Sarah Haan
Sarah is a registered dietitian with a bachelor's degree in dietetics. She helps individuals adopt healthy lifestyles and manage their weight. An avid exerciser and cook, Sarah likes to run, lift weights and eat good food. See all of Sarah's articles.