Nutrition Articles

5 Surprisingly High-Cal Halloween Treats

Be Very Afraid of These Calorie Monsters!

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Fall is as good a time of year as any to re-evaluate your weight loss goals and plans. But before you know it, Halloween brings the focus to candy and treats, which could tempt you to fall off the health wagon. One day of indulgence won’t hurt most people's progress, but considering that Halloween is just the beginning of a two-month season packed with party foods and desserts, try not to get carried away.
 
As you’re looking for ways to enjoy the season without losing sight of your health and fitness goals, pick the smartest treats and say “Boo!” to the biggest calorie monsters.
 
Here are five Halloween treats that should scare you!
 
1. Fun-Size Candy Bars
Averaging about 100 calories a pop, these popular trick-or-treat goodies may seem innocent—but only if you stop at one. It’s pretty easy to eat four or five mini-bars as you take your kids trick-or-treating, and if they're within arm's reach at your office, you could "accidentally" be eating one or more every day for weeks leading up to Halloween.

The bars that pack the most calories are those with peanut butter, coconut, chocolate, caramel and nuts. Plus, once they’re out of the larger packages, their nutrition facts are nowhere to be found on those individual labels.

Trick: Start reading nutrition labels of fun-size treats before throwing out the package. Figure out the best choice for you and stick with that when you’re having a Halloween treat. Peppermint patties and Twizzlers have about half the calories of the average candy bar, but that doesn’t mean they're calorie free. Popping a piece of sugar-free gum can help curb some cravings if you're feeling tempted after eating just one. Discover 11 Halloween treats under 100 calories.
 
2. Pumpkin Breads and Muffins
Pumpkin puree delivers vitamin A and fiber in a low-calorie package that captures the essence of fall flavor. But pair it with sugar, cream cheese frosting, shortening and butter, and you have a high-cal treat dressed in a healthy-looking orange costume. Restaurants and bakeries are the biggest villains: Pumpkin scones, muffins, donuts and breads range from 300 to 530 calories per serving, but most portion sizes can be double or triple in size. For a single treat, that's a lot of damage to your calorie budget.
 
Trick: Bake your pumpkin goods at home, where you can control your recipe and make healthy baking substitutions, like subbing applesauce in place of oil and fat, choosing whole wheat flour over white and cutting down on the sugar in a recipe. Use a mini muffin tin to prepare perfectly-portioned pumpkin goodies. Start with these healthy pumpkin recipes.
 
3. Pumpkin-Flavored Lattes
Many coffee joints will have a special autumn feature on their menu for pumpkin-flavored coffees. A medium pumpkin spice latte with whole milk from Starbucks has 410 calories, and the calories in similar drinks from other chains like Panera Bread and Dunkin Donuts are pretty much the same. Think before you sip: Can you really budget 400+ calories into your day for a single drink?
 
Trick: Order the smallest size and lighten the load by requesting fat-free milk and holding the whipped topping. Plain hot chai tea with some added low-fat milk can also give you the warm, fuzzy feeling of the season without the added sweeteners of a pumpkin latte.

4. Candy Corn
Yes, these ever-so-traditional candies are quite small, but for candy corn lovers who wait all year for their favorite seasonal splurge, they can be devastating to a healthy eating plan. The classic white, orange and yellow triangles contain 140 calories for 22 pieces, which is a small handful at most. Have a few and it’s no sweat, but sit near a jar full of candy corn and it's hard to track how much you've eaten.
 
Trick: Never eat candy corn from a large jar or straight out of the bag. This can lead to mindless overeating and no real sense of calories or serving size. Pre-portion a small serving and stick to it, then put the bag away and walk away from the jar. Also, try stretching out the sugar by combining a few pieces of candy corn with a trail mix of dried fruit and nuts for an added nutrition boost and more filling power.

5. Candy Apples
Don't be fooled: Just because there's a piece of fruit underneath a thick layer of caramel—and possibly nuts, cookie chunks or even chocolate—does NOT mean it's good for you or low in calories. If you cover a healthy fruit with sugar, it becomes a much less healthy choice. A single apple might only contain around 80-100 calories of nutrition, but when it's coated in caramel, it can more than triple in calories. Designer or "gourmet" candy apples covered in sprinkles, chocolate candies, nuts and chocolate are even worse.
 
Trick: Enjoy your apples by cutting them into wedges and dipping them into low-fat caramel dip, fat-free vanilla yogurt or peanut butter.
 
During the Halloween season, see these seasonal treats for what they really are: Treats that should be eaten in moderation and in small amounts. Put your label reading skills to work and keep your goals in mind, and you'll have no trouble avoiding Halloween treat temptation.

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Member Comments

  • ETHELMERZ
    I guess I'm lucky I don't like any of those traditional pumpkin recipes, coffees, baked goods, just don't like them, and the traditional Halloween treats also don't do a thing for me. Now Christmas is another story, though...........
    ...
  • I have an annoying habit of reading labels on everything before I buy them or cook them.
    Excellent article!
  • I have had one pumpkin spice latte this season, and after finding out the nutrition information (which was before reading this article) I think it will be my last. I love pumpkin spice coffee, but there are plenty of nearly calorie free options if you are willing to drink black coffee. Most of the chain convenience stores around here have some sort of pumpkin spice coffee (not latte). If you want the latte, a cappuccino or plain latte with skim milk and no sugar (you can always add a little yourself if necessary) are better options.

    Thanks for sharing. Reminds us that these treats aren't "free" by any means.
  • "Be afraid"
    "...two month season"

    I suppose that if a person really WANTS to make life more difficult for themselves, and make it harder for themselves to make healthy choices, then it makes sense to get in to the mindset of fear of certain foods and treating 3 separate single-day holidays as a "season".

    For those of us who prefer to keep things simple, it is entirely possible to treat seasonal foods the same as any other options (where you mindfully make individual choices as to what you want and will fit in to your healthy lifestyle), and ignore the marketing hype that created a "season" and focus on enjoying the actual meaning of the individual holidays and treat the foods on those days the same as every other day (since it really is NOT about the food).
  • Candy corn and candy pumpkins are my favorite! For a while, the advertising of virtually no fat seemed to make them even better, but the calories/sugar are another story. I couldn't keep a stash at home to gradually eat.
  • Candy corn! Yes, I used to love it, until I realized I couldn't stop!!! A real trigger to binge for me -- so, no more candy corn.
  • Thanks for sharing.
  • FLOYDIE40
    I don't know how I feel about this article because ads from Chitka kept blocking it!
  • PJNSGRL78
    For those of you who love pumpkin spice coffees Tim Hortons has sugar free flavor shots. Right now they have pumpkin spice. They only have 4 calories per shot. I usually get two. They don't add sweetness but they do add nice flavor. 2 shots is good for a large or below.
  • These all seem like no-brainers, but I enjoyed the slight humor throughout the article (esp the subtitle: Be afraid of these calorie monsters).

    I'm reading this article on October 17 so it is good timing since I just bought my halloween trick or treats and need to control myself to not "dip in".
  • BROCCOLIROSE
    Good read....it's amazing how something so small and innocent can be so "tricky"! Thanks for the great info!
  • K_RENEE
    I like the idea of mixing in a few candy corn with trail mix. I think I'll try that. I also am going to peruse Sparkrecipes for some pumpkin use ideas. Healthier ones, that is.
  • PIXIESTIX6669
    Pffft...once you give up sugar, this junk doesn't faze you anymore...Muahaha
    hhahaha...so don't be afraid of nothin'...
  • Really? Be afraid of food is really the message you want to send here? The article was good but the message of the subtitle a little unhealthy, in my opinion.
  • Someone at work must already have read this article! At a recent training, she combined granola, baby chocolate chips, craisins and a few candy corn. It was enough to get the taste but not enough to pack too much of a calorie wallop.

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.

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