I adore Halloween, but for a lot of my clients it can be a nutritional minefield. Even when you're an expert, it's easy to get tricked by your treats. Each of these Halloween goodies is similar in nature, but one is twice as scary, packing two times the calories, fat, sugar, or sodium than the other. Can you guess which? Scroll down for correct answers:
1. Which contains more than twice the calories as the other?
One fun-size packet M & M's Peanut Candies
Five individually wrapped Reese's Miniature Peanut Butter Cups
2. Which packs nearly twice the sugar as the other?
52 pieces of candy corn
Five rolls of Smarties
3. Which provides over twice as much fat as the other?
A half-cup of pumpkin ice cream
One slice of pumpkin pie (1/8 of a 9" pie)
4. Which packs more than twice the sodium as the other?
Two Halloween-sized Milky Ways
Two Halloween-sized Pay Days
1. Twice the calories: The mini-peanut butter cups at 220 vs. the M&Ms at 90. Both the peanut butter cups and M&Ms are made with peanuts, but pureed peanuts are a more concentrated source of calories.
2. Twice the sugar: The candy corn. Both choices are mostly sugar, but the candy corn packs 56 grams (vs. 30), the equivalent of 14 teaspoons of the white stuff. The American Heart Association recently recommended a daily cap of no more than 6 level teaspoons for women and 9 teaspoons for men.
3. Twice the fat: The pie at about 9 grams vs. the ice cream at 4 grams of fat. A lot of the fat is hidden in the crust though, which is typically trans-fat (aka partially hydrogenated), the worst kind for your waistline because it's tied to excess belly fat. Leave the crust behind and you'll slash the fat grams in half and save about 100 calories.
4. Twice the sodium: The Pay Days at 140 milligrams vs. the Milky Ways at 55 milligrams. Sodium isn't just a problem for blood pressure. There is some animal research to show that a high-sodium diet may affect the activity of fat cells, making them larger. And water is attracted to salt like a magnet, which means it can cause bloating, water retention and puffiness.
I'm certainly not recommending any of these as healthy, but did some of the answers surprise you? Do you tend to fall into unhealthy hidden Halloween traps? Please share your thought here or tweet them to @cynthiasass and @Shape_Magazine!
Cynthia Sass is a registered dietitian with master's degrees in both nutrition science and public health. Frequently seen on national TV she's a SHAPE contributing editor and nutrition consultant to the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays. Her latest New York Times best seller is Cinch! Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds and Lose Inches.