Celebrating Halloween doesn’t have to mean overindulging in candy. You can have just as much fun by dressing up, playing Halloween games, working on arts and crafts projects and making a special Halloween snack together.
Mounting research suggests that added sugar can have harmful effects on metabolism and contribute to all sorts of diseases.
“We are in the midst of a paradigm shift in research on the health effects of sugar, one fueled by extremely high rates of added sugar overconsumption,” as Laura Schmidt, Ph.D., professor of Health Policy at UC San Francisco, put it in a commentary in JAMA Internal Medicine. “Too much sugar does not just make us fat; it can also make us sick.”
The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend a limit on sugar for the first time: no more than 10 percent of a person’s daily calories should come from added sugar. That amounts to about 12 teaspoons (50 grams) for someone consuming 2,000 calories a day (1 teaspoon contains about 4 grams of sugar).
The 10 percent limit matches the new one from the World Health Organization, which advises, however, that getting less than 5 percent of daily calories from added sugar (about 6 teaspoons and 100 calories on a 2,000-calorie daily diet) is an even better goal. The latter is similar to the strict recommendations from the American Heart Association: no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar a day for most women and 9 teaspoons for most men.
Limiting the amount of sugar you enjoy at Halloween doesn’t have to spoil the fun. You can bake popcorn balls and sugar-free treats. You can also plan games, such as bobbing for apples. By placing the focus on fun activities and not food, the holiday will be more memorable for everyone.
Children with diabetes can eat candy on Halloween, just like any child. However, parents should plan ahead to work the candy into their child’s diabetes meal plan or ensure they get enough insulin to cover the carbohydrates in the candy. The Child Life Team at Joslin Diabetes Center provides tips for Halloween planning and handling treats with diabetes.
LISTEN NOW: Serve, Taste or Trash! Food podcast. Learn to love the foods you hate.