5 Candy Alternatives for Halloween that Aren't Lame: Why We Should Avoid High Fructose Corn Syrup
Here it comes! That time of year with a crisp in the air (well, crisp-ish here in AZ), longer nights, and we can finally be outside before 10pm without sweating bullets. The time we wait all year for to say, “THIS is why we live in Arizona.”
As exciting as this time is, it also starts off about 4 months of SUUUUGAR overload. Kicking off a few weeks before Halloween (because, why not?), going through Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, and Valentine’s day, it’s basically a non-stop onslaught of over processed, artificially colored, flavored candies and desserts.
If we aren’t careful, this can be the root of putting on “a little holiday weight” that never seems to come off. And before you know it, each year you’re adding on 3-5 pounds on top of the year before.
Now, let me just say that I’m not saying don’t eat anything delicious. Moderation is definitely key and we have an upcoming blog all about how you can make sure not to overindulge for the holidays. But with Halloween coming up the quickest, let’s take a look specifically at candy. The candy today is pretty much nothing like the candy our grandparents bought at the five and dime. That stuff was basically sugar and NATURAL flavors. No Blue Raspberry or Fruit Punch for them. Yep, full of sugar, but I would take something chock full of ACTUAL sugar any day over what we’re handing out today.
One of the most dangerous ingredients in today’s candy is High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS). I grabbed these 8 reasons to avoid HFCS from @just.ingredients on Instagram. If you’re over on IG, give her a follow. She’s a wealth of knowledge and shares info on how to choose the healthiest ingredients in our food and products we use on our bodies and in our homes.
It is a highly concentrated sugar made from corn. Princeton recently did a study and showed that this highly concentrated amount of sugar consumed caused weight gain and was linked to obesity.
The American Association of Cancer Research found that HFCS promotes cancer growth, especially pancreatic cancer.
Due to the HFCS molecule bond, the fructose part does not need to be digested and it goes straight to the liver and causes lipogenesis (liver damage). (Dr. Mark Hyman)
Because HFCS does not need to be digested, high amounts of sugar are directly absorbed into the blood stream which causes a huge spike to your insulin. This causes issues with our appetite, obesity, diabetes, and can lead to insulin resistance.
It raises your bad cholesterol and lowers your good cholesterol. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that only after 2 weeks of having HFCS, your cholesterol numbers could be negatively altered.
HFCS has been proven to literally punch holes in the intestinal lining allowing nasty byproducts of toxic gut bacteria and partially digested food proteins to enter your bloodstream and trigger inflammation. This is called leaky gut. This inflammation is at the root of cancer, depression, anxiety, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, dementia, and more. (Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute.)
HFCS contains contaminants like mercury that are not measured or controlled by the FDA. Mercury is poisonous and known to cause lots of neurological issues, such as Alzheimer’s. (The Environmental Health Org.)
The fructose part of the sugar chemically reacts to L-tryptophan. It degrades the tryptophan so that there isn’t as much available to be absorbed into the body. Tryptophan is the building block for serotonin. This is why depression is so highly linked.
These 8 reasons aren’t meant to be a scare tactic to make everyone panic. But when we’re more educated about what’s going into our bodies, we can make healthier choices. When we know better, we do better.
So what do we do about Halloween? Do we just become “those” people that hand out toothbrushes? Let me just give a few alternatives that aren’t super lame:
Hot chocolate: this one takes a bit more preparation than the rest but is so cool because it actually lets you take a minute to talk to your neighbors. It’s not just the grab-and-go mentality of Halloween. Make sure you’re making it yourself (homemade is not that hard!) so you know what’s in it and you can hand out cups from a big ol’ crockpot in your front yard. If it’s a bit chilly that night, all the non-costumed parents will thank you!
Helium balloons: this is one of my favorite alternatives I found. There’s something about balloons that even older kids go bananas for. Extra props to you if you can find cool glow in the dark balloons. Tie those on their wrists and you’re good to go.
Anything glow in the dark: necklaces, bracelets, plastic fangs, they go crazy for it all.
Finger lights: do a quick check on Amazon. Pretty cheap and the kids love ‘em.
Slap Bracelets or coil bracelets: apparently these things didn’t die in the 90s and are now so. cool.
Punch balloons: like helium balloons, even the older kids go bizerk for these and it’s less work for you!
So there you have it, now you can avoid a little bit of HFCS but without being the Scrooge of Halloween. Don’t feel like you have to pull everything out of your pantry at once, but start with one decision at a time.