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Which is Better? The Halloween Edition

By , SparkPeople Blogger

Even when you are trying to be on your best behavior and outsmart temptation, Halloween candy can be too much. It is possible to make a choice that not only treats your sweet tooth but also provides some nutritional benefit with the calories.

Single serving M&M packets are a popular candy for trick-or-treaters young and old. Both plain and peanut varieties provide about 240 calories per pack but selecting Peanut M&M's is a slightly better nutritional choice. The Peanut M&M's have a few more grams of fat compared to their regular counterpart but they balance out with additional protein and slightly less sugar. The protein and better-balanced nutrient distribution helps your blood sugar stay more level so you will be satisfied with one sweet treat and experience less of a sugar high and crashing low.

While selecting an individual serving size box of raisins might not meet your candy craving, Raisinets just might. The chocolate covered fruit greets your taste buds first with the pleasure of chocolate. When you take your time to savor the flavor and allow the chocolate to melt away, you are met by the juicy sweet raisin. A single-serving box contains approximately 50 chocolate-covered fiber rich raisins that are easy to enjoy slowly, spreading out the 150 calories and 6 grams of fat they provide. If you are a dark chocolate lover, try the bittersweet option, which can also provide an additional antioxidant benefit. Raisins aren't your thing? Consider the tart and sweet option of Cranberry Raisinets instead. Regardless of which variety you prefer, 100 percent chocolate covered whole dried fruit is a healthier candy choice.

Another portion-controlled option for those that want a taste of chocolate is the York Peppermint Patty. A single serving full size patty provides only 160 calories and 2.5 grams of fat. Select a dark chocolate version and receive some antioxidant benefit as well. This lower calorie, low fat treat can also help suppress the appetite because of the natural properties of peppermint. So if you tend to be a candy snacker that easily slips into situations that cause you to figure out ways to exercise away the Halloween binge, this candy choice might be a good option for you.

Sometimes nothing satisfies the sweet tooth like a candy bar. It is no longer a simple choice between a chocolate bar or a chocolate bar with almonds. Today there are many choices calling our name. You may be tempted to grab the Three Musketeers bar because you have heard it has 45 percent less fat than most leading candy bars. While that is true, it also has very little protein as well so carbohydrates in the form of simple sugar serves as the primary macronutrient source. To help balance macronutrient fuel sources, candy bars with nuts raise the fat and protein content. Mr.Goodbar provides one of the best macronutrient ratio balances in single serving candy bars. Although it contains 257 calories, 40 percent comes from simple sugar carbohydrates (25.5 grams), 50 percent from fat (16 grams), and 10 percent protein (6.5 grams). This ratio will slow the rate of metabolism to help you feel satisfied longer and reduce the risk of a quick rise and fall of blood glucose levels. You will find similar protein totals and macronutrient ratios from other choices like Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and Reese's Pieces, Oh Henry!, Nestle Crunch, Snickers, Payday or Butterfinger.

While favorites like Skittles, Twizzlers, Bottle Caps, Sweet Tarts, and Candy Corn are fall favorites, caution is advised since they are predominantly simple sugar choices. Although they are enjoyable as you eat them, the familiar sugar high and crashing lows are not far behind when you have finished. If nothing else will do, be smart with your choice. Be sure you use good portion control pointers to stay on track. Consume a protein or fat source as well to provide better macronutrient balance. Try something new this year and mix candy corn with peanuts. They taste just like a Payday candy bar and provide a similar macronutrient balance as well.

The Bottom Line

Avoiding favorite sweet treats can be very difficult especially at Halloween and Harvest Party time. Sometimes, healthier Halloween alternatives provide satisfactory options. Other times these substitutes are cost prohibitive and the traditional favorites are staring us in the face. Making deliberate and informed choices can allow you to enjoy the festivities and stay on track with your goals at the same time.

Try to enjoy your sweet treat after a meal or with a glass of low fat milk or soymilk. This helps increase feelings of fullness and satisfaction, which can limit your urge to go back for a second or third treat. Try to savor each sweet bite pushing away any feelings of guilt or shame that can cause you to want to hurry to hide your choice. By enjoying the experience, you are acknowledging that you have the ability to enjoy treats in a healthy, portion controlled way. This provides confidence and reassurance that you can include any treat in your healthy lifestyle when you practice healthy eating habits and make planned, informed decisions.

What is your favorite Halloween or Harvest Party treat? Do you believe you have the skills necessary to include it this year?

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See more: Halloween tips


Dark chocolate- but just a little I hope Report
I don't expect to do much for Halloween. I'm certainly not going to give out tootsie rolls and butterfingers. I know that!!!!! Report
I am trying not to have candy in the house this Halloween. Got some non-edible goodies for the kids this year. Report
Thanks for the helpful ideas. I am trying very hard to limit myself to the raisinets, as I figure there is a little more nutrition in them than in other chocolate candies. Also, I won't even buy Halloween candy until the day before! Report
Easy anything with chocolate! We didn't buy any candy this year. we have less than 20 trick or treating aged kids in town so most of the people give away full sized candy bars. I'll be happy to keep around the left overs this year. We are giving out dollars. Report
The little bitty peppermint patties are fantastic when frozen! I do love candy corn, but I stay away from it. My boys are too old for candy-scrounging, so we just use the day to spend time together. It isn't about candy, so that's a load off my mind. Report
We bought a container of little bags of pretzels this year, 50 cal. per pack. I don't care for pretzels, so won't give a hoot about any left over, and my dh is one of those who has portion control, so won't eat more than one bag per evening either. Will not have any candy whatsoever in this house, no kids around for one thing. Saving myself for Christmas, when the stuff is more worthwhile and I plan around it. Report
How refreshing to read about candy and nutrition in terms of actual NUTRIENTS, not just calorie counts. Thank you!

My favorite choice for savoring Halloween candy this year is to have two Hershey's Miniatures for just 80 calories -- one Special Dark and one Mr. Goodbar. It's much easier to justify that little treat with some protein and antioxidants than it is to justify Milky Way bars! Report
I like the M&M peanuts, salted nut rolls and paydays--Not a big fan of the chocolate bar, I get an upset stomach if I eat a whole bar. I can eat the mini or snack size bars and I eat very sparingly. My two biggest downfalls are the candy corn (only buy it during Halloween) and gummi bears. I also like the soft peppermint sweet stripes--they're great when you have an upset stomach (peppermint soothes). Report
I used to love Kiss candies. I never see them anymore. Now I like snack chips. Report
I wish that almond M&Ms came in individual snack size bags. Report
I put my York Peppermint patties in the freezer. I love them cold and hard. Report
Thanks, I wanted to give out candy without feeling like a mean witch now I have a list of what I can buy. Report
what a great article!! so much better than "candy is poison" :) Report
We get around 1100 trick or treaters at our house. At that point, you have to start considering what you're spending on all this, and just try hard not to eat anything. Report
Very interesting! I appreciate this article. Now that my treats are much more limited, I want to choose wisely!!! Report
the mini peppermint patties are the best...leave them in the fridge and they take longer to for a chocolate craving and u realy can only eat a couple... Report
Thankfully that is not an issue in Australia, though we do have the supermarkets advertising sweet things - but I have never bought 'Halloween treats'. Report
Thanks for the info - I have in the past just looked at the calories !!!! Will rethink going forward.! Report
I love it all! unfortunately I am not yet strong enough or wise enough to allow any candy treats into my plan. If I eat one I won't stop. None for me. Report
Nougats. I looooove nougat candies !! In particular, I love the nougats with candied fruits and nuts. I haven't had them in ages. For standard Halloween fair, I do like Mr Goodbar or a Chunky.

I'm not worried about Halloween. I don't really over indulge at this time.
Great advice! Many just look at the calories and think, "I can't have any of these snacks because they're all unhealthy!" Not letting yourself have what you really crave will just make you eat more because nothing else will satisfy it! Report
Last year we presented trick or treaters with 50 calorie packs of pretzels and yummy high-quality chocolates. Most of the kids chose the pretzels - to our shock and delight! So, we're giving out pretzels this year. : ) And left-overs can be eaten without guilt. Report
After reading this article I think I can make a much better choice about what I give to trick-or- treaters for Halloween Report
Glad I read the article fully. I'm second-thinking about those Skittles now!

Thanks, SP! Report
I love Peanut M&Ms, York Peppermint Patties, and Reese's Dark Peanut Butter Cups and 3 Musketeers Truffle Crisp Bars, neither of which were mentioned here. I am diabetic so I've learned to savor sweets and consume them in moderation when I do indulge. My downfall tonight were Twizzlers Cherry buds, I ate a few too many handfuls.

Since I don't get trick or treaters at Halloween I don't have to buy candy, so this reduces the temptation greatly. I do have a bad habit of eating just about as much as I give away, so while I love seeing the kids in costume I'm glad I won't be handing out any candy this year. Report
I like Almond joy bars. Report
mmmmm....Candy Corn is my weakness. I almost bought a 3 lb bag today - but I walked away. GO ME!! LOL Report
I have never really liked candy corn, but I love peanuts and I love peanut M&M's so I will have to try the candy corn and peanuts. I found out that tootsie rolls (the small ones) have 10 calories each and 1/4 gram of fat. So I buy tootsie rolls to hand out and if I get a chocolate craving I limit myself to 1 or 2. Report
I buy a box (of 40) snack size popcorn and the kids just love them. I might have to increase the numbers as we seem to be getting a few more kids each year since starting this. We know too many people that are highly senitive to food allergens so not knowing if the kids that come knocking have problems, we stay away from all foods that are known allergens and the companies that package them. Report
I am a sugar addict so I cant have any chocolate at all or I will keep going and going on it. We dont get many children so I am going to buy one bag of candy to hand out and I will be sitting on my porch drinking herbal tea and enjoying all the kids in there costumes and reading my Spark book in between that. Report
I am a huge fan of chocolate in any shape or form. That is why I give away smarties. I can't stand them. Report
I love chocolate, but I am not a fan of the dark chocolate, except Mounds! My other favorites are: Reeses, Almond Joy, Payday, Milky Way, Snickers, Hershey's chocolate bar and kisses, I used to consider myself a chocolate fiend, when I was much younger, but now only certain times of the year will I get serious cravings for must have chocolate. I definitely can't eat it when the weather outside is way too hot or warm (I can't stand a melted hot-mess on my hands). I think that I have a pretty good handle on my consumption now, so I don't think that I will be in to much trouble come Halloween. Report
Kit Kats and Milky Ways, but the dark chocolate raisinettes are pretty tasty too :) Report
Dark chocolate is a favorite, also Butterfinger and York Peppermint Patties. Will be trying to limit all of these. Thank goodness the grandchildren will help me do that... Report
Going sugar free this year! :) Report
I love some candy corn and those peanut butter candies that are wrapped in the orange or black wrapping. Report
My all time favorite is a York's Peppermint Patty...It's good to see a single serving size might be an okay choice for Halloween. Report
All I have to say... is could ya take the picture of the candy corn down now please? I may have to stay off SP until tomorrow at this rate!!! :) Report
What is your favorite Halloween or Harvest Party treat? Do you believe you have the skills necessary to include it this year?

I like nearly anything that has milk chocolate. However, I do not want to take one bite of milk chocolate because it will cause cravings to come back. I don't want the cravings to resurge in me. I do eat 1/3 oz. to 1 oz. dark chocolate if I need a sweet/candy fix. I can eat it without craving more and it satisifies me. I used to eat milk chocolate and when I ate it I'd crave more and more and more. I have come to really like dark chocolate. Try Trader Joe's Belgium chocolate. It comes in a big bar that can be easily broken into 1/3 oz pieces and has a high percentage of cacao.

What is this harvest party nonsense? Learn the true meaning of Halloween and you won't be afraid to celebrate it. Halloween is the eve of All Saints' Day for goodness sake. Hallow means holy. Children love to dress up and go trick-or-treating. Those passing out treats could pass out non-food alternatives or healthier choices like little bags of pretzels. It's the fun of dressing up and walking door to door or celebrating with a party that is the fun part for kids. I assume most of the candy is thrown out or delegated to the top shelf of a cupboard to be doled out on special occasions.

snickers are for me. we have bags of them along with 3 musketeers and milky ways for halloween. so far, not one bag has been opened and i have no desire to open one and start eating them. i think that's great for me. Report
Homemade popcorn balls made with molasses!! Yummy! Report
I'm a popcorn ball girl. Thankfully after Halloween popcorn balls disappear from store shelves so I won't have that temptation for a whole year! If you know about popcorn balls for other holidays, please don't tell me! :) Report
I will not have Halloween candy this year. I don't want to start something that might just lead me to wanting more candy. I have found if I just decline that first piece of candy/cake/pie/etc, I don't start wanting it. It's been very helpful. Report
I love the peppermint patties!! Report
Thanks for the Peanuts and Candy corn idea never thought of that. Report
Candy Corn is my downfall. Last year, I think I ate 4-5 bags all by myself. Same goes for jelly beans at Easter :)
I have only had a couple pieces of candy corn this year when someone at work brought some in. Otherwise, I've completely avoided the candy isle at the store and won't even look at the displays for halloween candy. Big accomplishment for me!!
I'm also very lucky in that I don't get trick or treaters at my door where I live. Haven't bought candy to give out in about 8 years. Eliminates a huge amount of temptation right there because it's not in the house. Report
Candy Corn is my weakness, but so far I've been goos just smeeling the bag - LOL Seriously.

Mr. Goodbar sounds awesome, and I've always like Peppermint Paddies, so It's nice to know those are "good" choices to make. Report
Raisinets come in dark chocolate too now ! :) Very good tips..... thanks for the heads up! I think everyone is thinking about the holidays and how to avoid taking two steps back..... Report
Reese's Peanut Butter Cups are my favorite (and thankfully they are gluten-free!) Report
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