7 Candy Ingredients to Avoid this Halloween and 7 Safe Alternatives

This article was originally published by our friend Amy Myers MD

Halloween can be a scary time for parents and children alike when you are surrounded by processed candies.

You might be feeling as though you have to decide between letting your child have fun, and supporting their health. Or maybe you don’t have children, and are looking for a way to enjoy Halloween treats yourself!

Well, I have good news for you – it IS possible to have fun AND support your health with just a little time and thought!

Let’s talk about how you can healthfully satisfy your sweet treat cravings this time of year! Plus, I’ve included some delicious homemade treat recipes that you and your child can make together!

7 Toxic & Inflammatory Candy Ingredients to Avoid

While my parents were very early to adopt natural, homemade foods, I know that for most people processed and junk foods were regularly found in your pantry. This includes many of the traditional candies that may have shown up here and there throughout the year, and came in abundance on Halloween night.

While there are a few companies on the market that have started making cleaner and allergy-friendly candies, many still are full of artificial ingredients. Some big ones to look out for are:

  1. High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) and Corn Syrup
  2. Partially Hydrogenated Oils
  3. Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
  4. Artificial Colors, Flavors, and Sweeteners
  5. Preservatives – including: sodium benzoate, sulfites (sulfur dioxide), polysorbate 60, 65 or 80, nitrites, TBHQ, and BHT/BHA
  6. Gluten – may be listed as maltodextrin, modified food starch, caramel coloring or flavoring, citric acid, and “natural flavorings”
  7. Dairy – including skim milk, milkfat, and lactose

Not only do many candies have artificial ingredients in them, there are often other hidden sources of sugar, dairy, gluten, corn, and soy that may be hard to find, so be sure to carefully read the ingredients list. Ultimately, my big rule is: If there is an ingredient you do not recognize, don’t eat it.

7 Safe Ingredient Alternatives

It can be hard to avoid sugar and sweeteners altogether with Halloween candies, so I like to focus on some other keywords in my candies to know I am making the most wholesome choice.

  1. 75% or higher dark chocolate. The darker the better!
  2. Honey
  3. Maple syrup
  4. Stevia
  5. Natural fruit juice
  6. Natural coloring from beets, turmeric, carrots, and other fruits and veggies
  7. 100% Organic and USDA Certified Organic ingredients

The sweetener options listed above will ensure that you and your child get a lower dose of sugar and minimize your exposure to GMOs, because sugar typically comes from genetically modified sugar beets.

I also make sure to look for organic and sustainably sourced ingredients, however be sure to still read the ingredients!

Create Your Own Homemade Candies

One way to ensure that you are getting good quality treats into your diet is by making them yourself! To get you started, my Registered Dietitian and I have put together some tasty recipes that you and your child can make together and enjoy on Halloween!

And, as an added bonus, many of them include collagen or gelatin for a boost to your gut health and gut repair.

Bonus Tip: Hand Out Non-Treat Goodies

Another alternative for hanging out candy for Halloween is to hand out fun surprises for kids to enjoy Halloween night. Some fun ideas include glow sticks, bubbles, fidget toys or fidget spinners, stickers, and/or slap bracelets.

If you are planning in 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 know that you are handing out goodies such as stickers, pencils, bubbles, spider rings, and other toys instead of candy.

Making changes in traditions can be challenging for parents and children alike. However, the most important thing you can do to support these changes is to keep your child excited and help her not to feel left out.


Breakfast, blood sugar, & inflammation

Recent research has shown that Inflammation is responsible for 7 out of 10 Deaths in the United States. But it doesn’t have to be the same way for you.

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