7 Candy Ingredients to Avoid this Halloween and 7 Safe Alternatives
Halloween can be a scary time for health-conscious adults and parents alike.
Surrounded by processed candies full of refined sugar and other additives, you might feel as though you have to decide between fun and health. This can be especially difficult if your children don’t understand why junk food is, well, “junk.”
Those of you without children might be looking for a way to enjoy Halloween treats without wreaking havoc on your health.
I have good news for you — you can have fun AND support your health with a little extra consideration. Let’s talk about how you can healthfully satisfy cravings for sweet treats at this time of year by avoiding the toxic and inflammatory ingredients that affect your health. Then we’ll cover the alternatives that are just as sweet and satisfying in all of your favorite seasonal treats.
I’ve also included some delicious homemade recipes for tasty treats that you and your children can make and enjoy together.
7 Toxic & Inflammatory Candy Ingredients to Avoid
While my parents adopted natural, homemade foods early on, I know that most of you could find processed foods and “junk foods” in your pantry growing up. This includes many of the popular candies displaying themselves in their shining wrappers in grocery store checkout lanes throughout the year. Yet, on Halloween night, they’re everywhere! There is literally no escape.
While there are a few companies on the market that started making cleaner and allergy-friendly candies, many are still full of harmful ingredients. Some major toxic and inflammatory ingredients to look out for are:
- High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) and Corn Syrup
- Partially Hydrogenated Oils
- Artificial Colors, Flavors, and Sweeteners
- Preservatives – including: sodium benzoate, sulfites (sulfur dioxide), polysorbate 60, 65 or 80, nitrites, TBHQ, and BHT/BHA
- Gluten – may be listed as maltodextrin, modified food starch, caramel coloring or flavoring, citric acid, and “natural flavorings”
- Dairy – including skim milk, milkfat, and lactose
Not only do many candies contain artificial ingredients, there are often other hidden sources of sugar, dairy, gluten, corn, and soy. Be sure to carefully read the ingredients list. Ultimately, my big rule is: if there is an ingredient you do not recognize, do NOT eat it.
7 Safe Ingredient Alternatives
When it comes to Halloween, I know it can be hard to avoid sugar and sweeteners altogether, so I like to focus on other keywords in my sweet treats to help me make the most wholesome choices for myself and for my family.
- 75% chocolate or higher (the darker the better!)
- Maple syrup
- Natural fruit juice
- Natural colors from beets, turmeric, carrots, and other fruits and veggies
- 100% Organic and USDA Certified Organic ingredients
The sweetener options listed above ensure that you and your child get a lower dose of sugar and minimize your exposure to GMOs. You may be surprised to find out that sugar typically comes from genetically modified sugar beets.
While I encourage you to search for candy using the above alternatives, sometimes they’re difficult to pin down. If you’re caught in a pinch, I recommend sticking to candies you know are gluten-free, dairy-free, and free of any artificial flavors and colors, such as YumEarth candies or UNREAL chocolates.
I also look for organic and sustainably sourced ingredients, so be sure to read the label closely. Or you can go with my favorite option for healthier treats without any of the tricks.
Create Your Own Homemade Candies
One way to ensure you are getting better quality treats in your diet is to make them yourself. While these home-made goodies are not to be handed out to trick-or-treaters, they’re the perfect addition to any Halloween party with friends and family. To get you started, I put together some tasty recipes that you and your child can make together and enjoy on Halloween.
- Pumpkin Butter Cups
- Sour Pomegranate Gummies
- Mint Meltaways
- Strawberries and Cream Cheesecake Bites
- Caramel Apples
- Chocolate Chip Cookies
You Can Hand Out Goodies Other than Candy
Another alternative to giving out candy for Halloween is to hand out fun surprises for kids instead, such as glow sticks, bubbles, fidget toys or fidget spinners, stickers, and/or slap bracelets.
If you are planning on handing out non-candy items, I highly encourage you to check out the Teal Pumpkin Project™.
Launched as a national campaign by Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) in 2014, the Teal Pumpkin Project™ raises awareness of food allergies and promotes inclusion of all trick-or-treaters throughout the Halloween season.
Paint a pumpkin teal and set it outside of your home to let trick or treaters and their parents know that you are handing out goodies such as stickers, pencils, bubbles, spider rings, and other toys instead of candy.
Your children can enjoy the night without any extra sugar. Suggest that they share their candy with those who don’t have a chance to trick-or-treat. Donate the packaged, snack-sized sweets they collect to Candy Buyback or Candy Give-Back organizations such as Operation Gratitude. These organizations send care packages to troops oversees. During the holiday season, care packages include Halloween candy donated by parents and children alike who want to let others know they care.
With this option, your child can continue to trick-or-treat with their friends. In addition, it’s a chance to teach them one of the many ways that being kind can be fun!
Making changes in traditions can be challenging for both parents and children. However, the most important thing you can do to support these changes is to keep your child excited and help them feel included rather than left out.
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