It’s that time of year when the costumes come out, the spider webs go up, the horror movies run constantly on TV and candy inundates our lives. Well let’s be honest, Halloween candy has been in the grocery stores for at least two months, but soon children everywhere will don their creative get-ups and go trick-or-treating.

I always loved Halloween as a child. Who doesn’t like an excuse to get dressed up and ask for free candy? Now that I am older and know the effect of consuming copious amounts of processed sugar, I wonder if there is a way for Halloween to be healthier. Is it possible to have healthier options that are just as yummy that our trick-or-treaters will still enjoy? As an eternal optimist, I’d certainly like to think so.

We all know that most of the candy options we see on the store shelves are loaded with corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, and artificial flavors and colors in addition to processed sugars. So what options do we have? We can’t just cut candy out of our lives and pretend it doesn’t exist. From personal experience, that normally leads to unhealthy habits and unwanted cravings. So the key here is finding healthier alternatives to help us slowly wean our young ones off of the really bad stuff.

To help you in your hunt for healthier options I introduce GoodGuide. GoodGuide is a company that provides reliable information on the health, environmental, and social impacts of consumer products. It has put together a comprehensive rating guide of candy based on nutritional value, environmental scores and social scores, the second two of which are comprised of product-level and company-level scores (see their ratings and more on their methodology here). The guide also discusses certifications to keep an eye out for such as Fair Trade and organic and key issues surrounding cocoa production such as child and slave labor, fair pricing, ecological impacts and health.

Here are the products that came out on top:

1.       Justin's Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups (also available in milk chocolate)

2.       Vital Choice 80% Extra Dark Organic Chocolate with Mint

3.       Simply Balanced Dark Chocolate Pomegranate Fruit Bites 

4.       Zone Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bar

5.       Hershey's York Sugar Free

There are also candy alternatives that are popular such as Clif Bar minis, Luna Bars, raisins (Raisinets got a fair rating!) and fruit bars (try Twizzler Sugar Free Strawberry Twists).

If you still aren’t convinced, keep ingredients in mind as you shop and skip products made of solely sugar and artificial coloring (gummy bears, candy corn) and opt instead for products with natural ingredients like chocolate and nuts/nut butters (Peanut M&Ms, Reese’s). These will provide protein and satisfy you more.

I truly believe that there is a way to enjoy our traditions in a healthier way. Hopefully this information has been helpful and you can find candy options that work best for you and your family. Happy shopping and many wishes for a fun, healthier Halloween!

Photo credit:  CC image courtesy of liz west on flickr

Published by Anna Young