If you’re telling yourself that eating those orange and green-topped mini candy pumpkins counts as “eating your vegetables,” and noshing on warm apple cider doughnuts means you’re taking advantage of seasonal fruit, you may be kidding yourself, but chances are, you’re not laughing at the joke when you step on the scale.
With so many pumpkin-flavored goodies on supermarket shelves, Halloween candy everywhere you turn, and treats galore in your office’s kitchen, we wanted to know which are the worst offenders when it comes to sugar all season long. Here are some sweet treats that may derail your best fat loss efforts if you aren’t careful.
“Pumpkin foods and beverages always come to mind when I think about seasonal sugar bombs,” says Chicago-based nutritionist Jennifer Vimbor, MS, LDN. “When we think of autumn, we think pumpkins, leaves changing color, warmth, and comfort. We may get some warmth and comfort from seasonal foods and drinks but we’re also packing in the sugar!” For example, a Starbucks Grande Pumpkin Spice Latte has 50 grams of sugar! The American Heart Association suggests limiting added sugar to 24 grams (6 teaspoons) for women and 36 grams (9 teaspoons) for men. “The Pumpkin Latte has 2 1/2 times more sugar than the recommended limit!” says Vimbor. (And keep in mind that pumpkin-spiced baked goods, like scones, can contain 40 grams of sugar per serving, too!) If you want to enjoy some pumpkin-flavored coffee this fall, consider buying a flavored coffee creamer and pouring a teaspoon or two into your morning beverage.
Two packaged candies to beware of include a “Cadbury Scream Egg” (20 grams of sugar per serving) and candy corn, suggests Vimbor. While you may think candy corn is relatively harmless, each candy corn contains about 1.5 grams of sugar. If you can get away with eating one candy corn all season long, kudos to you for your restraint. But grab a handful (like the rest of us) and you’re easily consuming 30 grams of sugar, Vimbor says. What’s important to keep in mind is that many of these candies are in “fun size” size packages so you’ll likely eat more than one, and the sugar grams rack up quickly. According to this PopSugar.com article, some of the “fun size” Halloween treats with the most sugar per serving includes: Skittles, M&Ms, and Whoppers.
Promotional Seasonal Treats
It seems like every food company has their own version of fall flavors, like Nabisco Pumpkin Spice Creme Oreo sandwich cookies or Pepperidge Farm® Milano® Pumpkin Spice Cookies (which contains 11 grams of sugar for three cookies—not too bad, considering). You might also come across pumpkin spice latte M&Ms, pumpkin spice flavored granola, or pumpkin flavored yogurt (some contain 29 grams of sugar per serving!). Remember that you need to read nutrition labels and look at the sugar grams to see if that food (even so-called health foods like granola and yogurt) should really be considered dessert.
Plan for treats
If you were reading this and found yourself at the bottom of a hot, sugary, pumpkin-flavored drink, take a breath and don’t beat yourself up. “To bounce back from too much sugar, I would encourage a client to eat a balanced diet, including lean protein, complex carbs, good fats and lots of veggies,” says Vimbor. She also recommends you don’t skip meals and to make sure you drink plenty of water. “This will help to keep you satisfied and have less cravings. You’re setting yourself up for success,” she says.
As we approach the final months of the year, remember that you’re going to be surrounded by sweets. “Allow yourself to have a few treats but plan for them,” says Vimbor.” (So if you’re dying for one Pumpkin-Spiced Latte per season or a special apple cider doughnut or hot apple cider at an apple farm, just plan for that.)
If you feel guilty and/or a little bloated the next day, don’t restrict your eating and try to ‘save up’ calories.” You’ll be more likely to eat back what you thought you ‘saved’ and then some. Eat as you usually would the next meal and day, Vimbor suggest.
And take advantage of the cooler temps to go for long walks outdoors before it gets too cold in the winter!