By Ashley Koff RD, CEO, The Better Nutrition Program

Trick or treat?! This Halloween learn these tricks to enjoy your treats and still get the lasting benefits of better nutrition.

Halloween happens, but chemistry projects shouldn’t. Trans fats, artificial (fake) flavors, fake colors like Red 40, and artificial sweeteners like aspartame, offer only “tricks” to your body. Try to stay away from these “tricks” in your “treats”. Check out these tips to sort your candy and sweets:

  • Free-dumb. Food and drink products often tell us what they are free of like sugar free, fat free, trans fat-free, gluten-free. But these labels don’t say anything about what they are full of. When it comes to candy, check out the label to see what it is full of. Take time to read your candy’s food label.
  • Fat-free candy is usually a sugar bomb in a costume! For example, one serving of Fat-Free Jelly Beans is 35 pieces and contains 0% fat and 28 grams of sugar. One teaspoon of sugar is about 4 grams. That means that a single serving of Fat-Free Jelly Beans has over 6 teaspoons of added sugar. The American Heart Association recommends that you eat no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar a day. So if you eat a treat full of sugar, focus on the amount you eat and how often you eat it to avoid getting too much at one time.
  • View portion size as a good thing, not a bad thing. Portion control is a chance to enjoy the treats you love. Paying attention to portion size means focusing on how much you actually eat, not what is listed as a serving size on a label. The serving size can help guide you but it’s only a recommendation. You may want to eat half or you may want to eat two times the amount. Use the food label to calculate the treats you eat. For example, if the treat you choose is a baked good or a piece of candy, make sure to balance it out with all the other treats you eat that day and the portion size is within reason, so you don’t over eat that day.
  • Colorful candy is usually a chemistry lab project in disguise. Chemical colors don’t belong anywhere and certainly not in any trick or treater’s body. When buying and eating treats, choose colors made from nature’s ingredients.
  • Dress up like a science experiment – don’t be one! Some foods have GMOs (genetically modified organisms). Genetically modified foods are not found in nature. What’s scarier than a Haunted House? Eating foods that have GMO corn or sugar – and that its effects may last longer than a quick jump or scream. Choose organic candy or at least look for Non-GMO project verified products.


Keep this guide in mind while you enjoy treats, not tricks. And remember, sweet foods aren’t the only item you can treat yourself to. You can treat yourself to a new yoga class, art materials, shoes, or a show with a friend. What are your favorite treats? How will you enjoy your treats this Halloween?


Ashley Koff, RD

Email Ashley to get her free Better Nutrition Guide at [email protected]

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