Ah, Halloween. That time of year when so many of us get tricked by the naughty treats . . . and spend days if not weeks trying to make up for it! Halloween may be a holiday for the kiddos, but the caloric consequences are for all of us.
Consider the fact that three mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups contain more sugar than a glazed doughnut. Half a pack of Skittles contains more of the dreaded white stuff than a scoop of Haagen-Dazs ice cream, and nine Twizzlers pack as many calories as a Wendy’s Double Stack Burger. Scary, right?!
Of course, there’s a big difference between a little indulging and a waistline-busting binge when it comes to Halloween candy. In fact, the best way to risk falling off your diet is to deprive yourself of enjoying even a tiny piece of sugary greatness.
So what’s a fitness lover to do? Here are 10 of my “healthiest” Halloween candy picks, plus 10 treats that everyone should steer clear of. These rankings take into account total calories, fat count, and number of artificial ingredients. Stick with the smart choices for a guilt-free way to have your candy and eat it too!
10 Treats to Avoid
10. Airheads Minibars
The basic formula for an Airhead is sugar and filler carbs (6.3 grams per bar), artificial colors and flavors, and partially hydrogenated oils (the source of trans fats). There’s really nothing redeeming about this product, which carries 46 calories per bar. A mere three bars contain more sugar and calories than half a cup of Edy’s ice cream!
9. Mr. Goodbar Snack Size
Each mini bar contains 66 calories, 4.3 grams of fat, and 5.6 grams of sugar. Triple that, per the serving size, and you’re looking at more fat than a McDonald’s Hamburger . . . all from three little bites!
8. Almond Joy Snack Size
Most mainstream candy bars are a combination of corn syrup, milk chocolate, sugar, vegetable oils, and sometimes nuts. Almond Joy and Mounds add coconut to the mix, which ups the fat (and calorie) content big time. One snack size Almond Joy bar contains 80 calories and 4.5 grams of fat, as well as 8 grams of sugar.
7. Swedish Fish
These little fishies contain a ridiculous amount of sugar – 14 grams per 9 pieces, totaling about 70 calories. In addition to two different kinds of sugar, Swedish Fish also include carnauba wax. Yes, that would be the stuff they use to polish cars.
6. Blow Pops
Eating one of these puppies is the equivalent of rubbing a bowl and a half of Fruity Pebbles’ worth of sugar on your teeth for 10 minutes, then chewing a piece of sugar-filled gum until it loses the flavor. The only saving grace here is that Blow Pops take so damn long to eat, you’re unlikely to have more than one for a total of 70 calories.
5. Heath Toffee Bar Snack Size
Heath is one of the most natural-tasting brands on the market, but that richness is pure dairy butter. This makes Heath Toffee Bars one of the fattiest products on the shelves. In fact, a single snack size bar contains more fat than a McDonald’s Chicken Nugget . . . and absolutely no protein!
4. Junior Mints Snack Size
Junior Mints are one of these candies that’s almost irresistible to pop back. But be careful – you’re actually popping an insane amount of calories and sugar. One snack size box contains about 76 calories and as much sugar as in three Chips Ahoy! Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies.
3. Starburst Original Fruit Chews Fun Size
Four pieces of Starburst contain 80 calories and about 11.5 grams of sugar – more, ounce for ounce, than any other candy on this list. In addition to corn syrup and sugar, Starburst pieces contain hydrogenated palm kernel oil, a greasy substance that accounts for the fat in this product.
2. M&Ms Peanut Butter Fun Size
Wait a second, peanut butter is supposed to be good for you, right?! Of course, but not when it’s crammed into a candy with 32 other ingredients, including fatty corn syrup, partially hydrogenated palm kernel oil, and 10 artificial colors. Stop getting tricked by the health halo!
1. Hershey’s Take 5 Snack Size
One of the fattiest candy bars in the world, Hershey’s Take 5 is more like a Take 35. Apart from the chocolate, pretzels, peanut butter, peanuts, and caramel, it’s packed with high fructose corn syrup, fattening vegetable oils, artificial flavors, and carrageenan (a binding agent made from – get this – seaweed).
10 Safe Snacks
10. Reese’s Pieces Snack Size
E.T. loved ’em and you should, too! One snack size portion of Reese’s Pieces contains a mere 7 grams of sugar – unthinkably low for most candies – 70 calories, and 3 grams of fat.
9. Hershey’s Kisses
Three of these adorable foiled nuggets carry 67 calories, 4 grams of fat, and about 8 grams of sugar. That means you get the satisfaction of opening three treats for the nutritional cost of just one Snickers mini bar.
8. Nestle Crunch Fun Size
Thanks to the crisped rice, Nestle Crunch contains a lower calorie and sugar count than most other chocolatey delights. (Think 60 calories, 3 grams of fat, and 7 grams of sugar per bar.) If you can restrict yourself to one or two, these treats really hit the spot.
7. Kit Kat Snack Size
Give yourself a break and enjoy a Kit Kat bar. With a light and porous wafer core, you’ll save serious calories as compared to the denser chocolate bars. One two-piece bar contains 70 calories, about 3.5 grams of fat, and 7 grams of sugar.
6. Tootsie Rolls
For those of you who actually think Tootsie Rolls taste like chocolate and enjoy them, nosh away! Three pieces contain 70 calories and 9.5 grams of sugar. Not great, but definitely not going to break the bank.
5. 3 Musketeers
Unlike the vast majority of Halloween chocolates out there, 3 Musketeers don’t contain nougat or caramel filling. This makes them lighter and airier all around, although one fun size bar still packs about 10 grams of sugar and 63 calories.
4. M&Ms Pretzel Fun Size
This is the latest spin on M&Ms, and boy, does it bodycheck everything else the candy companies have out there. The original milk chocolate core in this tasty treat has been replaced with pretzel, which makes for a lower caloric content. Trading boatloads of sugar for a satisfying cookie-like crunch – yes, please!
3. Smarties Candy Rolls
You may think these are all sugar – and you’d be right! – but Smarties are also a highly effective way to curb a sweet tooth. Each one contains only 25 calories and 6 grams of sugar, so popping a pack or two can really help keep you on the dietary straight and narrow.
2. Pixy Stix
While this might be pure sugar in a straw, as Halloween candy goes Pixy Stix are fairly safe. At only 9 calories and 2.1 grams per serving, you’re unlikely to do much damage if this is your treat of choice.
1. Jelly Belly Jelly Beans
It’s purely a coincidence that the treat with the least waistline-friendly name is actually your smartest Halloween candy pick. Each jelly bean contains only 4 calories, and Jelly Belly uses real fruit puree to flavor its product. There’s no two ways about it – you’re still eating candy. But this is definitely the lesser of many sugar-laden evils and provides a great way to get your cotton candy, toasted marshmallow, and strawberry shortcake fix!