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Halloween is in two weeks and I’m already dreading it.
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Halloween — the spooky movies, dressing up, decorating the house. It’s not any of that.
It’s the CANDY.
Every year I think it’s not going to be a big deal. “I’ll just have one or two pieces,” I say and then the flood gates open. I find myself rummaging through the kid’s stash for Twix and Kit Kats after they go to bed. It’s sad.
I know all the tricks: Buy candy you hate, wait until the last minute, blah, blah, blah. It’s all good advice, but at the end of the day, I still find my hand in the candy bag.
So this year I decided to do something different. I decided to educate myself. I wanted to really learn what’s in this candy I’m eating so I can make an informed and conscious decision of whether I want to put it in my body.
Note: You may think I’m anti-candy but I’m not. I’m an “everything in moderation” girl. There’s only one problem: sometimes I have a problem with the moderation part. I hope this helps.
10. Titanium dioxide, found in Skittles
… and sunscreen! That’s right. The same stuff we slather on our skin to prevent burns also happens to help make food white, which is why it’s also found in marshmallows. Oh, and paint. I don’t know it just doesn’t sound like something we should be eating either. Click here for more info.
9. Carrageenan, found in Baby Ruth, PayDay
Apparently it adds texture and thickness but has NO nutritional value and has been shown to be destructive to the digestive system. Interesting enough it’s “natural”. Check out this article on Prevention for more information if you are interested.
8. TBHQ aka Tert-Butylhydroquinone, found in Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Baby Ruth, Goobers
It’s a preservative that does not cause discoloration in food and it’s been deemed safe for consumption even though the FDA limits it usage to 0.02%. I’m not so sure I’d categorize something as safe when it has to be limited to such small quantities. Click here for more info.
7. Partially hydrogenated soybean oil, found in Snickers, Almond Joy, Tootsie Roll, Reese’s Pieces, Whoppers, Baby Ruth
According to some it’s quite possibly the most harmful ingredient in processed foods. Look, even Urban Dictionary says so.
I’m only partially joking here. It is a trans fat and it is bad for you. Click here to see what the Mayo Clinic has to say about it.
6. PGPR, aka polyglycerol polyricinoleate, found in Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Kit Kats, Twix, Peppermint Pattie, Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar, Mr. Goodbar, Hershey’s Special Dark
PGPR is considered safe for consumption, however, according to BeacauseNoOneAsked.com, PGRP is used to replace the expensive cocoa butter that is normally found in chocolate. So they take the stuff that actually may have some health benefit to us and replace it with what? A bunch of chemicals to mimic chocolate. Let me guess, it’s cheaper.
5. Carnauba wax, found in Nerds, Mike & Ikes, Gummy Bears, Swedish Fish, Skittles, Reese’s Pieces, Good & Plenty, Jolly Rancher Gummies
Another “safe for consumption” ingredient, carnauba wax is the same stuff used in car wax, shoe polish and cosmetics. Just thinking about that makes me reconsider grabbing that handful of Swedish Fish from The Husband’s stash. More info on FitSugar.
4. Hydrogenated palm kernel oil, found in Milky Way, Skittles, Butterfinger
Contains less trans fat than partially hydrogenated soybean oil, but like carnuba wax, I’d much rather it stay in my cosmetics and candles than my food. I’m thinking it’s just best to stay away from the word “hydrogenated.” More on Ehow.com.
3. Resinous glaze, found in Reese’s Pieces, Whoppers, Milk Duds
Also known as shellac, it is secreted by an insect called the tachardia lacca beetle. According to vrg.org, it is also used in furniture polish and varnish, hairspray, shampoo, perfume, cosmetics, and paint. Yikes!
2. Yellow dye No. 5, found in candy corn, Starbursts, Nerds, Skittles, Butterfinger, Reese’s Pieces, M&Ms, Dots, Jolly Rancher Gummies
I decided only to pick one dye or my list would have just been filled with them. According to CSPI’s Chemical Cuisine, it causes allergy-like hypersensitivity reactions, primarily in aspirin-sensitive persons, and triggers hyperactivity in some children. It may be contaminated with such cancer-causing substances as benzidine and 4-aminobiphenyl (or chemicals that the body converts to those substances).
And the No. 1 Thing In Candy I’m Not Sure I Want to Be Eating is …
1. Sugar, aka high fructose corn syrup, aka almost anything that ends with -ose, found in EVERYTHING
I don’t want to start a sugar vs. corn syrup argument because that’s not the point of this. The point is to be a little more aware of what we are deciding (yes, deciding — what you eat is a conscious decision, or at least it should be) to put in our bodies, and the more time I spend thinking about it the more I want to reduce my overall sugar intake. If you really have some time, you may want to read this article in the New York Times about it.
Listen, I’m not an alarmist. I don’t think we are all going to die if we indulge in a few bites of candy this Halloween. But for some of us just having a “few bites” is a problem. So maybe, just maybe, if we are a little more aware of what we are eating, it will be a little easier to stop at a bite or even skip it altogether.
Now I feel like a big downer but I have to be honest, I’m not craving those Twix bars I know will be in the 8-year-old’s Halloween bag!
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I’ve been doing this a looong time…