My kids are way too old for dressing up in costumes and heading out to gather Halloween candy tonight. But for those of you who do have trick-or-treaters, I'm sure you will have an ample supply of a variety of candy by tonight. Halloween is the best season for candy sales, totaling in the billions of dollars. Wow!
I think that there are more than trick-or-treaters eating candy when the numbers are that high. And I think we probably are eating candy more than on just Halloween day. The days leading up to, and certainly the days afterward, are prime-time for candy consumption.
One thing that is interesting about Halloween candy is that it comes in little packages. Many candies nowadays come in smaller packages - fun-size, bite-size, etc. This is good, considering how many little packages get distributed and eaten. Often times we think that a little package means little calories. But then we don't take into consideration how many of those little packages we actually eat!
For instance, the label on one brand of "fun-size" candy says that one serving is one package and there are 100 calories in one package. On a bigger package of the same candy, it lists one serving as 1.69 ounces (about 1/4 cup) and that contains 240 calories. Either way the portion size is not very big and one contains twice as much as the other.
This same principle applies to many foods we eat. Many times a package contains more than one serving, but we eat it as one serving. A quick check and a little math can determine the actual number of calories that you consume.
The other problem with small packages is that since we think we are eating a smaller portion, then we think it is okay to have more than one package. If you have many small packages of a variety of candies in the bowl, it is very easy to take more than one.
If you have diabetes or are counting carbohydrates, that information is also listed on those labels. The carbohydrates count up fast, even on the smaller servings of candy. Remember, one carb choice equals 15 grams of carbohydrate.
November is National Diabetes Awareness Month. Diabetes is a disease that affects the body's ability to convert food into energy. Whether a person has Type 1, Type 2 or Gestational Diabetes, nutrition plays an integral role in the management of the disease. The focus of the diet for someone with diabetes involves controlling the carbohydrate content of the diet. Certainly it doesn't make it easy with holidays that focus so much on sweets.
Now is a good time to start being mindful of what and how much you eat. The days are shorter and colder and it isn't as much fun to be outside anymore. The Halloween candy can stretch to Thanksgiving and then the holiday parties start. By paying attention now, you may be able to keep your blood sugars under good control and avoid the winter gain in weight that is so easy to do.
Cheryl Rude is a registered dietitian at Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center. In addition to her column, you can also find nutrition tips and ideas on the blog she writes at www.averastorycenter.org.