The countdown to Halloween is on. For some it means haunted houses, costumes and elaborate decorations. For me, it means candy, a ridiculous amount of sugar-loaded candy. Don’t feel like dressing up? As an adult, with basically unlimited buying power (for candy at least) you can simply buy your way into trick-o-treating.
However, this is just the beginning of prime candy season (and it won’t stop after Halloween). After pumpkin-shaped peanut butter cups and candy corn comes chocolate Santas and candy canes.
If you find yourself unwrapping more than your fair share of sweet treats this time of year, you’re far from alone.
“Candy is in so many places – from the office to the supermarket to even your own house – during the Halloween season that it’s difficult to resist. That’s why it’s best to have an action plan in place to enjoy the candy in moderation,” says Amy Gorin, a registered dietitian nutritionist.
How can you indulge while making sure you’re not messing with your healthy eating plan? Let yourself live a little.
ntegrative dietitian nutritionist Robin Foroutan, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says, “The best Halloween candy to eat is the one that you love the most!” She continues, “Eat it slowly – enjoy the smell, the flavor, and texture – really savor it so that you get maximum enjoyment.”
Wait a minute? Did you just tell me to eat candy and that nothing bad would happen? Not quite. The American Dental Association reminds us that the sugar in Halloween treats can play some unwanted tricks on your teeth if you’re not careful. The bacteria in your mouth are probably more excited to eat Halloween candy than you are. When the bacteria eat the sugar and leftover food in your mouth, a weak acid is produced. That acid is what can contribute to cavities.
Dr. Ana Paula Ferraz-Dougherty says, “It’s okay to eat that candy on Halloween as a splurge as long as you’re brushing twice a day and flossing once a day all year long.”
Here’s a rundown of some common candies and their impact on your teeth:
1. Chocolate is probably your best bet, which is good because it’s also one of the most popular kinds of candy handed out on Halloween. Chocolate is one of the better candies because it washes off your teeth easier than other types of candy. Dark chocolate also has less sugar than milk chocolate.
2. Be picky if it’s sticky. These are some of the worst candies for your teeth. This candy is harder to remove and may stay longer on your teeth, which gives that cavity-causing bacteria more time to work.
3. Hard candies are also ones to watch on Halloween. They can actually break your teeth if you’re not careful. You also tend to keep these kinds of candies in your mouth for longer periods of time so the sugar is getting in your saliva and washing over your teeth.
4. You might want to pass on things that make you pucker – especially if they are sticky and coated in sugar. Sour candy can be very acidic, and acidity can weaken and damage the hard outer shell of your teeth, making your teeth more vulnerable to cavities.
My candy downfall is moderation. My way of surviving the season is to put candy out of sight (like in the back of your pantry, or in the freezer). When it’s not staring you in the face, you’re not constantly tempted by it. Eat it as a planned part of dessert rather than when you’re running around or doing other things, like working, or driving in the car.
Although candy may contain some vitamin C or fiber or some other ingredients that may have come from the earth, we all know it wouldn’t fall under the nutritious category. My plan has always been a candy blitz and then get it out of the house as soon as humanly possible (like Nov. 1).
I know it feels bad throwing away perfectly good candy that tastes delectable, so donate it instead. Through the Soldiers’ Angels Treats for Troops Halloween Candy drive, businesses can register to serve as a collection site for this program. Not only will you be serving the community by removing excess candy from the mouths of children, but also serving our service members, wounded heroes, and veterans. For more information, visit soldiersangels.org/TreatsForTroops.html.
For now, try to avoid the chocolate covered stomachaches by waiting until the last minute to purchase candy and buy your least favorite kind.