[Article updated on 19/09/2023]
Autumn has well and truly begun and the month of October passes smoothly, ending with a festival known to all: Halloween.
Before reading on
I’m not an expert in this field, but I am passionate about nutrition and health.
The articles you’ll find on my site are the result of in-depth research that I’d like to share with you. However, I would like to stress that I am not a health professional and that my advice should in no way replace that of a qualified physician. I’m here to guide you, but it’s important that you consult a professional for specific questions or medical concerns. Your well-being is important. So be sure to consult the appropriate experts and take the best possible care of yourself.
This night, preceding All Saints’ Day, is in the minds of the vast majority synonymous with sweets devoured by us and/or our children.
As a Dietitian Nutritionist, I would like to enlighten you on the subject of sweets, consumed between 3 and 4kg/person each year.
Is it advisable to eat them or should we avoid them as if they were little monsters?
Where do the candies come from?
Spoiler alert: candy doesn’t grow on trees! It is therefore not a natural product but a 100% industrial food in which all the components are the fruit of industry.
It was in the 19th century that the confectionery trade became democratized thanks to the development of the sugar and sugar beet industries.
Before that, not everyone could have access to these taste treasures, only the most fortunate could obtain them.
The candy therefore dates from 600 years BC, at the time of Ancient Persia.
200 years later, thanks to Alexander the Great, cane sugar was used for therapeutic purposes.
In 1484, only apothecaries (pharmacists) could use sugar and it was in the 15th century that it entered the kitchen, becoming a gourmet product, reserved for the richest.
Candies come in different flavors: sweet or sour. Of all colors, of all shapes.
Berlingo, honey candy, caramel, marshmallow, nougat, sugared almonds, praline, lollipops, licorice rolls,… The list is pleasantly long! There is something for every taste.
Nutritionally, what do candies do?
Candies are part of the Sweet Products family. This family, on the food pyramid, is the one at the very top, that is to say, the one that is recommended to be consumed occasionally.
Nutritionally the candy is of no interest, it does not provide vitamins.
It is a very high-calorie food, non-essential since it is composed of simple sugar (very often from glucose syrup) at more than 80% and saturated fatty acids.
The candy gives the body a “boost” effect, i.e. energy that can be quickly used but just as quickly consumed, generating spikes in blood sugar (and possible reactive hypoglycemia, that is to say, say bar effects).
The WHO (World Health Organization) recommends consuming 25g of sugar/day. With 5 cat’s tongues (sour candies) you have already reached the recommended threshold.
The downside of consuming too much sugar is:
- promote weight gain, which is harmful to health
- increase triglyceride levels
- promote insulin resistance in the blood = chronic hyperglycemia = risk of developing type 2 diabetes
Candies, with their flashy colors, are full of additives: colorings and flavorings of all kinds.
Beware of additives such as: E131 and E171 which can cause allergic or carcinogenic manifestations.
However, you can look for candies with natural colors or natural flavors.
Acidic candies should be consumed in moderation because high and prolonged consumption (especially by young children) modifies the pH of saliva, promotes the appearance of cavities as well as the demineralization of dental enamel.
The gelatin in the candies, made from pigs, is not very tasty. Knowing the manufacturing process might even dissuade you from eating too much. However, there are candies using fruit pectin, agar-agar or even plant gelling agents.
Can I eat it?
Of course ! And you must not stop yourself from eating it, otherwise it will create frustration and then inevitable future breakdowns (and therefore large quantities consumed).
They must be consumed with pleasure, on chosen times, on particular occasions, in full consciousness (that is to say, without doing anything else at the same time) and in small quantities.
Pay attention to the representation of candy as a reward for children. Over time, this leads to a distorted relationship with sweet foods which are not rewards but sources of taste pleasure.
Be careful with sugar-free candies! Under no circumstances should/can you replace candy with this type. The sugar and sugar syrup in the original recipe can be replaced by another form of sugar (isomalt for example) which will provide the same number of calories as well as other inconveniences such as bloating or digestive problems.
A study showed that the more colors there are in a package, the more you will eat (marketing and its power over our consumption is incredibly powerful). So choose a single color package instead!
Homemade Halloween Candy Recipes
Marshmallow Halloween Monsters
- 1 packet of marshmallow
- sugar eyes (or smarties + a touch of melted chocolate for the pupil)
- colored gel pens (or candy colored threads)
Glue eyes onto each marshmallow using a gel pen (one eye, 2 or 3 for more monstrous effects).
Create wacky hair using the gel pen.
- 90g powdered sugar
- 1 C. tablespoon of banana flavor
- 3 tbsp. tablespoon of liquid honey
- 1 C. tablespoon of lemon juice
- 5 tbsp. tbsp. cold water
- 1 C. teaspoon of yellow food coloring
- 8 leaves of gelatin
Place the gelatin leaves in a container of cold water to soften them (do not hesitate to use a video for the technical help).
Pour the powdered sugar and water into a saucepan. Heat over low heat until you obtain a syrup. Add the honey, flavoring and coloring. Boil the water.
When it first boils, remove the pan from the heat and add the drained gelatin leaves. Mix well. Add the lemon juice.
Divide the mixture into small silicone molds and leave to cool for 2 hours. Carefully unmold the candies and enjoy.