Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Great Halloween Candy Debate

Happy Halloween Foodies!

I'll be honest, I've never been big into Halloween. When I was a little girl, it was a time for class parties and candy, but as I got older, there was always this burden of finding a clever costume. Truth be told, the best part of Halloween in my adult life?

(Regular readers of this blog should not be surprised)

Anyway, I bring Halloween up in this post, because I've noticed a fair bit of controversy in regards to the candy aspect of the holiday, and I'm very curious to hear people's thoughts.

First, Self Magazine posted an article entitled, "Halloween Candy: Is It Worth It?" earlier this month. The article states that before you reach for candy, you should be aware of how hard you'll have to work to burn off the following:

  • 8 Starbursts = 160 calories (50 minutes of Pilates)
  • 3 miniature York Peppermint Patties = 150 calories (17 minutes biking at a moderate pace)
  • 19 pieces of Candy Corn = 140 calories (19 minutes playing tennis)
  • 2 Reese's Peanut Butter Pumpkins = 350 calories (33 minutes running at a 6 mph pace)
  • 1 caramel apple = 250-350 calories (40 minutes moderate effort on standard rowing machine)
  • 3 Hershey's Milk Chocolate Snack Size Bars = 190 calories (1 hour of moderate weight lifting)
  • 1 roll Smarties = 25 calories (6 minutes treading water)
  • 2 fun size Snickers = 160 calories (22 minutes vigorous Vinyasa Yoga)
  • 1 package Skittles (61g) = 250 calories (27 minutes of aerobic workout with 6-inch step)
Granted, the target audience of this article is specifically not the general public. That is, the majority of Self Magazine's readers are either trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle, or trying to reach a healthy weight or take steps toward living a healthy lifestyle. However, does the article go too far? 

Second, a woman the media is dubbing, the "Halloween Grinch". Check out the video below:

Is this woman also going too far? Should children be allowed to enjoy the innocence and candy of Halloween, or does it embody and breed the culture of gluttony and obesity? Lay those thoughts on me!

Third, Biggest Loser host Alison Sweeney appeared on Ellen DeGeneres' Halloween episode to discuss how she deals with her children's Halloween candy.

I will say this about the "Switch Witch" and I invite people to agree or disagree with me. I very much disagree with labeling foods as "bad" or "good" and I believe that Alison's approach causes her children to believe that candy is "bad". I think that certain foods are healthier than others, but I don't think anyone should start believing that any food (in moderation) is completely off limits. Feel free to post your comments below

In closing, with my resolve to live a healthy and fitness-filled lifestyle, I tend to be lukewarm about candy. I don't deny myself candy, but I also know that I'd MUCH rather have a nice pasta dinner than a few candy bars. Or, if I do want a sweet, I'd much rather have one of the gourmet bon-bons that the Manfriend and I picked up from a chocolate class we took at 2 Chicks With Chocolate yesterday.

That being said, I'm not condemning anyone who IS enjoying the fruits of Halloween. Frankly, It's one night of the year so Snickers on, good friends.


  1. My candy tastes have certainly "evolved" as I've gotten older (hellooooo dark chocolate!), but I remember the thrill of tossing that bag full of candy out on my bed and dividing the treasure into "good" and "bad," which of course had nothing to do with health at all. I think it's a fun holiday and shouldn't be relegated to a "teaching" moment. The danger for adults might be the neverending candy bowl at work, but we can easily say "no thanks." I say amen to Snickering on and let kids have all the fun they want!!

  2. 1) I couldn't figure out why Self magazine translating X calories into workout time to burn X calories is controversial. Assuming accurate counts (definitely an assumption, but without evidence to the contrary, let's assume Self is accurate), it's just transmitting publicly available information in a different way and giving readers another tool by which to make their own decisions. I think that mandating food manufacturers and restaurants to post calorie counts in terms of work out minutes is a terrible idea, but a magazine doing it? Fine.

    3) Again, I didn't see how the concept of offering the kids to trade in candy for a toy, e.g. a practical application of the lesson of immediate vs. long-term gratification is controversial. It's actually a very good lesson and nice to see a celebrity actively parenting her own children rather than preaching to the rest of the world's parents how to raise their children for a change. I didn't think she was sending the message that candy is bad at all. The message that I thought she was telling her kids is "yes, candy is really tasty and tempting, but you could get something even better".

    The controversial part of the clip were the costumes. Sweeney telling her kids whom to dress up as and Ellen's costume. 'Nuff said.

    2) This woman is a bully, plain and simple. If she was actually motivated by a public health desire to reduce childhood obesity, she would have just not handed out candy. No one has to celebrate Halloween and no one has to provide candy to trick or treaters (I certainly didn't, but then again, I wasn't home). But she wanted to hurt parents and children that she deemed overweight, she wanted to harass and embarrass them publicly under the veil of "it takes a village", and she wanted to get in the news. She is a bully and I'd love to see the parents of one of the kids she bullied take her to court for harassment. I think a good lawyer could make a strong case for it.