Halloween is about costumes, carved pumpkins, scary stories, and... candy. Lots of candy. Treats are obviously a big part of Halloween, and, as with many holidays, less-than-healthy temptations are hard to resist. But as those big bags of candy come into your house, it's worth keeping in mind just how unhealthy sugar can be in large quantities.
It's not that you shouldn't be allowed to enjoy the (occasional) overindulgence on days like Halloween. But it's important to know your sugars, and to avoid sliding into any poor habits with sweets. It can be all too easy to snack mindlessly on mini candy bars and other treats as the holidays begin. Studies show sugar has addictive properties, and it wreaks havoc on our health in multiple ways.
Sugar and Weight Gain
The ingredients used to make candy are full of empty calories, highly processed sugars, fats, and food dyes. Bingeing on sugar will cause the pounds to add up, and many people struggle to keep sugar intake to a minimum. It’s far too easy to overdo our consumption of sugary treats.
Sugar and Tooth Decay
Eating too much candy leads to cavities and enamel damage. The bacteria that cause cavities feed on sugar, so the more you eat, the more these bacteria are able to multiply. These bacteria also damage gums, leading to corrosion and even tooth loss. Tacky candies like taffy, caramel, and fruit chews stick to teeth, leading to enamel damage and tooth decay.
Sugar and Increased Disease Risk
Diets high in refined sugars lower the strength and effectiveness of the immune system, compromising your body's resistance to viruses and disease. Consumption of industrialized fats and sugar leads to obesity and heart disease; obesity also contributes to the development of diabetes, as well as a host of other health conditions, including cancers.
Sugar and Reduction of Nutrient Intake
Candy contains no vitamins or nutrients. Filling up on high-calorie candies leaves less room for nourishment from nutrient-dense foods. Sugar consumption also leaches other nutrients, such as calcium, from the body. This leads to a number of deficiencies, including iron, vitamin A and vitamin C, and contributing to osteoporosis, anemia, and lowered immunity.
Sugar and Compromised Digestion
Candies like gummies, Twizzlers, or fruit chews contain none of the fiber which helps foods move through the digestive tract. Binging on these types of treats can lead to an upset stomach, and a backed up GI tract.
A Healthier Approach to Sugar
Commit to limiting your intake of candies this year. Better yet, avoid the the traditional Halloween treats entirely, and opt for healthier substitutions. Don’t buy those bags of mini candy bars once they go on sale, and if you really struggle with sugar, be sure not to keep it in your house. If you want to indulge a bit, have a few squares of organic dark chocolate of 70 percent cacao or higher. Learn to enjoy a few bites of something sweet in moderation, without going off the deep end into a full-blown binge.
When you do want to enjoy a treat, select whole, natural products with the highest quality ingredients you can find, and enjoy them after a full day of eating a wholesome, balanced diet. Many companies are creating healthier candies these days; while they may be more expensive, taking steps to protect your family’s health is worth it.