Boooo, here comes the sugar rush of the year. Halloween is the time for scary, spooky, and sweet things, and you may just find yourself slowly surrounded by sugary treats from home, to work, and every store and coffee shop you pass by. Even those with the strongest self-discipline might cave in, and we all need a little extra help to stay on track.
Why Halloween candy isn’t so sweet for your health:
Despite the attractive packaging, mouth-watering pictures, and the fancy marketing campaigns behind these candies, the truth is, most of them are made with processed, refined, or even synthetic sugars as the major ingredient, making up over 50% to even 95% of the total ingredients.
So now you know Halloween candies are basically just pure sugar shots for your body. In the short term, they will spike your insulin levels, disrupt your sleep cycle, and create mood swings. Long term effects could be increased chance of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, inflammation, and fatty liver disease.
What can I eat as a healthy Halloween treat?
Let’s be honest, healthy is a relative term to each and every one of us. We all have different definitions of what is healthy. However, here are some general guidelines to follow when it comes to sugar intake.
- Choose natural sugar instead of processed sugar
There are many different ways to sweeten a treat. Sugar exists in natural forms such as honey and maple syrup. Some processed sugars also contain more health benefits than others. Coconut sugar contains healthy fats, while date sugar is high in potassium, magnesium, and copper.
- Visit the dark side
Pay a little attention to the cocoa percentage in your next chocolate bar. This number indicates the amount of cocoa that comes straight from the cocoa beans. The remaining percentage of the bar is usually sugar, cream, milk, and other added ingredients. So, the higher the percentage, the more cocoa you are eating, and the more pure and non-processed the candy bar.
- Go nuts
If they’re going to add anything to a sweet treat, it might as well be something that actually nourishes your body. Nuts and seeds are great source of fat, fiber, protein, and antioxidants, so for once, go nuts!
- Bake your own treats
Home-made treats are usually way healthier for you and don’t include the same amounts of processed sugars, chemicals, or other unhealthy things that store-bought Halloween candies are packed with. Some of our favorite natural and better-for-you sweeteners to use in baked goods and candies are honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, dates, and monk fruit sweetener. With just a quick Google search, you can find healthier recipes for your favorite sweet treats; and they’re super fun to make too!
What is sugar and why is it bad for my body?
Sugar, in the form of carbohydrates, exists naturally in many kinds of foods such as vegetables, fruits, grains, and dairy. Consuming carbohydrates in its original form, or commonly known as a “whole food,” is safe and good, because while we consume the carbohydrates, we’re also taking in fiber, essential minerals, and antioxidants that are beneficial to our health. Consuming sugar from whole foods also allows our digestive system more time to slowly break down the food and gradually take in the carbohydrates, giving us a longer, more sustained source of energy.
On the other hand, consuming sugars that are processed or refined during the manufacturing process means your body does not have to put in any effort to break down the food in order to extract the sugar. In other words, the sugar can be absorbed immediately as energy in your body, giving you a sugar rush by spiking your blood sugar level, followed by the infamous sugar crash afterwards.
What food has processed sugar or added sugar?
According to Harvard Health, “the problem of sugar occurs when you consume too much added sugar -- that is, sugar that food manufacturers add to products to increase flavor or extend shelf life.” While the average man consumes 24 teaspoons of processed sugar per day, The American Heart Association suggests that men consume no more than 150 calories (about 9 teaspoons or 36 grams) of added sugar per day. That is close to the amount of a 12-ounce can of soda.
To make things worse, processed sugars are hidden virtually everywhere. Besides the obvious places, such as sodas and desserts, processed sugar is used as one of the top 3 ingredients in ketchups, BBQ sauce, coffee drinks, crackers, cereals, nut butters, potato chips, breakfast cereals, and even processed foods that are labeled as healthy alternatives, such as energy bars, plant based milks, yogurts, and probiotic drinks.
What are some alternative names for sugar?
Read the labels during your next grocery shopping trip, and remember processed sugars can be disguised in alternative names such as: