5 Worst Halloween Candies (and 10 Best Survival Tips!)

A cocker spaniel weighs about 24 pounds. You know what else weighs 24 pounds? The heft of candy the average American gobbles down each year, a big chunk of that falling to our waistlines in the days before and after Halloween. Fun size? I don't think so—unless it's fun being size 16. These stats could very well turn you as white as a ghost:

  • Three miniature Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups—the kind you find in office candy bowls and trick-or-treat-bags—fill your belly with more sugar than a glazed doughnut.
  • Half a pack of Skittles has more sugar than a scoop of Haagen-Dazs Cookies and Cream Ice Cream. 
  • Nine Twizzlers carry as many calories as a Wendy’s Double Stack Burger.

These are some spooky treats. And Halloween is only the beginning of the eating season: Thanksgiving and Christmas are just around the corner. If you want to see your feet come January, start by conquering the sugar fest that’s nearly upon us. Here's your plan for surviving the scariest night of the year for your waistline. (And speaking of frightful food, check out the Scariest Food Creations of 2010!)


Butterfinger Fun Sized BarWORST “FUN SIZE” CANDY BAR
Butterfinger Bar (fun size bar)
100 calories
4 g fat (2 g saturated)
10 g sugars

Again, fun for whom? Your cardiologist? By calling it “fun,” food marketers are cleverly pulling your attention away from the fact that candy bars are flab-inducing logs of concentrated fats and sugars. And Butterfinger is the worst offender—there's no quicker way to swallow 100 calories.

Eat This, Instead!
3 Musketeers (fun size bar)
63 calories
2 g fat (1.5 g saturated)
10 g sugars

SURVIVAL TIP #1: Toss the candy bowl
Alabama researchers found that people who have snacks within reach when they're watching TV consume more calories per day overall. But instead of simply relocating the bowl to another table, limit the potential for mindless munching by keeping the candy bagged and in the cupboard.

SURVIVAL TIP #2: Consume drinks before treats
Drinking 16 ounces of water before a meal fills the stomach, quells hunger, and helps you lose weight, according to a study presented at the National Meeting of the American Chemical Society. Use this strategy to help tamp your candy cravings. Just don't substitute a sugary beverage for the water or this strategy will backfire: A can of soda has more sugar than two Hershey’s Take 5 bars. (Get more food shockers and instant weight loss tips by following me right here on Twitter, and check out these 20 Worst Drinks in America to learn what other beverages you should avoid.) 

Brach's AirheadsWORST FRUITY CANDY
Brach’s Airheads (3 pieces)
140 calories
1.5 g fat (1 g saturated)
19 g sugars

Here’s the basic formula for an Airhead: Sugar and filler carbohydrates, artificial colors and flavors, and partially hydrogenated oils—a source of trans fat. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like our Eat This Instead, Dum Dums, are nutritional paragons, but they do have two noteworthy advantages over Airheads: They have no heart-wrecking oils, and they're hard candy. That means they dissolve slowly on your tongue, letting you enjoy the sweetness over time.

Eat This, Instead!
Spangler Dum Dum Pops (3 pops)
77 calories
0 g fat
105 g sugars

SURVIVAL TIP #3: Work out on Halloween morning

Lifting weights reduces levels of blood sugar by 15 percent for more than 12 hours after you’ve left the gym, according to research from Syracuse University. Why does that matter? Some of the sugar you consume will stay in your blood stream, providing energy to your cells, instead of pitching a tent in your belly. (For more strategies that will keep you thin and healthy for life, check out The Best Fitness Tips Ever!)

SURVIVAL TIP #4: Switch to dark chocolate
It won’t necessarily save you calories, but dark chocolate boasts a bevy of health benefits that milk chocolate can’t claim. Flavonoids in the cocoa help keep your arteries soft, decreasing your risk of cardiovascular disease. And according to new research, a compound called epicatechin might help prevent brain damage from stroke. Keep a bar on hand to nibble on any time you have a craving. Seek out those bars with at least 60% cocoa.


Twix MiniaturesWORST MINIATURE CANDY BARS
Twix Miniatures (3 pieces)
150 calories
8 g fat (6 g saturated)
15 g sugars

Twix has the worst saturated fat profile of any candy in your kid’s trick-or-treat bag. Think about it like this: Each one of these bite-sized candies carries 10 percent of the saturated fat you should consume in an entire day. Switch to Tootsie Rolls and you’ll cut your calories by more than half and trim your total fat intake by a whopping 81 percent.

Eat This Instead!
Tootsie Roll (3 pieces)
70 calories
1.5 g fat (0.5 g saturated)
9.5 g sugars

SURVIVAL TIP #5: Chew gum
Sort through any trick-or-treat bag and you’ll undoubtedly discover a handful of Super or Dubble Bubble—those small pink cubes wrapped in old-fashioned, end-twisted candy papers. Instead of plowing through the chocolates and taffies, throw a big gob of the gum in your mouth. The chewing suppresses cravings, and each piece has only about 15 calories.

SURVIVAL TIP #6: Don’t hand out your favorite candy
If your favorite candy is Milk Duds, and you’re handing out Milk Duds all night, doesn’t it seem likely that you’re going to wind up with a pound of chocolate and caramel in your stomach by night’s end? Of course! And that’s not even factoring in how many Duds you’ll plow through as they sit on the counter in the days leading up to Halloween. Choose something less tempting. And for tips to help you stay slim the other 364 days of the year, check out our 25 Best Nutrition Secrets

Brach's Milk Maid CaramelsWORST CHEWY CANDY
Brach’s Milk Maid Caramels (4 pieces)
160 calories
4.5 g fat (3.5 g saturated)
16 g sugars

"Milk Maid” sounds a lot like "Milk Made,” doesn't it? Very clever, Brach's! This candy contains a couple milk derivatives (whey and “lipolyzed butter fat”), but it hardly constitutes a dairy product. Plus, 90 percent of the fat is saturated. That’s bad news for your heart. If you enjoy the challenge of fighting chewy candy out of your teeth, switch over to Now and Later and save more than 100 calories per serving.

Eat This, Instead!
Now and Later (4 pieces)
53 calories
0.5 g fat (0 g saturated)
10 g sugars

SURVIVAL TIP #7: Keep the candy-calorie load to 400
The fewer calories you take in during candy season, the better off you’ll be heading into turkey season. So if you worry that you risk overindulgence, set a caloric limit and hold yourself to it. Four hundred is a good number—indulgent yet not overly destructive. That means you could eat every “Eat This Instead” on our list, and have 65 calories left for one of your personal favorites.

SURVIVAL TIP #8: Don’t skip dinner
A healthy dinner will take the edge off your candy craving, not to mention temper the blood-sugar rush that converts your body into a flab factory and puts you at risk for diabetes. What you want is a meal rich with fiber and lean protein—think chicken breast with vegetables.

Reese's PumpkinsWORST NOVELTY CANDY
Reese’s Pumpkin
170 calories
10 g fat (3 g saturated)
16 g sugars

This one should send your gimmick radar into the red zone. It’s simply an oversized peanut butter cup shaped like a pumpkin. What price novelty? Nearly two-thirds more calories than a regular Reese’s peanut butter cup! Grab two bite-size Reese's instead—you'll save more than half the calories, fat, and sugar. 

Eat This, Instead!
Reese's Bite Size Peanut Butter Cups (2 pieces)
72 calories
4 g fat (3 g saturated)
6 g sugars

SURVIVAL TIP #9: Take it outside
The worst thing you can do on Halloween night, after most of the trick-or-treaters have cleared off the street, is set your candy bowl by the door where you can grab a handful every day on your way out. Noshing 300 extra candy calories a day will add a pound of flab to your frame in less than two weeks. Instead, set the bowl on the porch before you go to bed. The leftover candy will be gone by morning, guaranteed.

SURVIVAL TIP #10: Remember: Halloween is a one-day event
A study in the journal of Nature Neuroscience found that eating junk food doesn’t just satisfy cravings—it creates them. That’s right; junk food is addictive. Limit your sugar splurging to October 31. If you start a week early, you’re going to have a serious candy habit to break after Halloween. You might find it to be frightfully difficult.

Bonus Tip! The NEW edition of Eat This, Not That!, completely updated for 2011, is on sale now! Pick up your copy today, and you could lose 10, 20, or even 30 pounds without giving up the foods you love.

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