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The Skinny on Candy

by Dr. Madelyn Fernstrom

“No bad foods, just bad portions” is my mantra – and one that I share with the community to help get away from the good food/bad food mindset. Now a new study provides additional support for this concept. And these results might totally surprise you! People who report eating candy tend to weigh less, have a lower BMI, and a smaller waistline. Does that mean eating candy makes you slim? Not at all. It simply points out that it’s not candy – or any specific food – that promotes weight gain, but taking in more calories than we burn.

Published in Nutrition Research (February, 2011), the researchers reviewed diet surveys from more than 15,000 adults. “Candy” included sugar candy, chocolate, and mints. Only about 20% of people were regular candy eaters – and they didn’t eat much, about 1.3 ounces per day. That’s equivalent to 8 Hershey Kisses (about 150 calories). Whether the candy-eaters exercised more, or trimmed calories in other areas isn’t known.

While you always want most of your calories to be nutrient dense and healthful, there are some guidelines for a daily “treat” (candy, chips, cookies) up to 10% of your daily calories. For someone eating 1500 calories daily, that’s up to 150 calories; for 2000 calories day, it’s about 200 calories.

Healthy eating is not about deprivation, it’s about balance.